Christmas is a time for family. To gather around and drink eggnog with just a splash or 12 of cognac. To write letters to Santa Claus to kindly request a PS5 under the tree. And something yule logs. Anyway, this year why not shake things up by making it a Christmas of Horrors? By that, we mean watching Christmas-themed horror movies, of course. But with so little time on your hands, how are you supposed to decide which ones are worthy of your time. Just leave it up to us! You can trust our good taste in movies. Or can you? Yes, you can. Here are 9 Christmas horror movies that get our seal of approval.
9. Better Watch Out
The title, taken from the lyrics of the strangely threatening song “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” says it all. This 2016 movie stars a young Australian case that is surprisingly good. 17-year-old Ashley (Olivia DeJonge) is babysitting 12-year old Levi (Luke Lerner), a precocious lad who tries varying ways to seduce her. When he fails, he begins to act like a psychopath, bent on killing her. This movie is full of twists and turns and while it generates the kind of eye-rolling that is typical of the horror genre, it is nonetheless an enjoyable flick to watch with friends.
The tagline is “You Better Watch Out” because, again, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” is such a shockingly hostile song! You might know Krampus from Austro-Bavarian folklore. He’s the half-demon, half-goat guy that punishes naughty children. In this movie, a dysfunctional family gets together to celebrate Christmas, and all that fighting causes Max (Emjay Anthony) to lose the Christmas spirit. Krampus isn’t cool with this, so he reveals himself and attacks the family. Plenty of gore in this one!
7. Dead End
It’s Christmas Eve and a family is out on a routine drive. Frank (Ray Wise) decides to take what he thinks is a short cut through a remote area. Oops. That’s when the horrors begin. Seemingly on an endless journey and not knowing how to get back on the right route, they come across all manner of eerie ghosts and all sorts of bad, scary things happen. Merry Christmas indeed!
6. Jack Frost
The titular Jack Frost (Michael Keaton) is a father and lead singer of a blues band who is killed in a car accident during a bad snow storm. His son Charlie (Joseph Cross), still in mourning a year later, builds a snowman in honor of his father. Playing a harmonica that his father had given him causes Jack to be resurrected, with his spirit awakening in the snowman! Sounds pretty scary, right? Well, actually it’s a comedy. But it shares the same name as a horror movie that had come out the previous year in 1997. Why not watch both of them, eh?
5. Silent Night, Deadly Night
This slasher film is about a psychopathic killer who dresses up in a Santa suit and goes on a murder spree. The movie begins in 1971 when a young Billy Chapman (Jonathan Best) witnesses the killing of his parents on Christmas Eve by men clad in Santa suits. Billy spends the rest of his childhood in an orphanage and is released as an adult in 1984. He attempts to live a normal life, but events thriller post traumatic stress disorder and he kills a bunch of people. This movie was controversial when it came out because of the ads that depicted a murderous Santa figure, which caused angry parents to protest that their children found Santa Claus to be scary.
4. Wind Chill
The movie starts with a female student (Emily Blunt) attending a college in Pennsylvania who uses the campus bulletin to find a ride home to Wilmington, Delaware for Christmas break. She catches a ride with a male student who is also heading to Wilmington. On their journey through the snow-covered highway, they encounter mysterious, creepy figures who cannot be explained.
3. Anna and the Apocalypse
It’s a Christmas movie that’s also a horror movie, a comedy, and a musical! What more could you want? It’s very similar to cult classic Shaun of the Dead but with a lot of singing. It was nominated for a pair of British Academic Scotland Awards, including Best Feature Film.
2. The Nightmare Before Christmas
This Tim Burton stop motion animation movie might be the only movie that is perfect for both Halloween and Christmas. Bored with how things are in his mundane world, Jack Skellington accidentally stumbles across Christmas Town and becomes obsessed with celebrating the holiday. This is the only movie on the list that’s completely ideal for the kiddies.
Duh. How was Gremlins not going to top the list? Peter Peltzer (Zack Galligan) receives a mysterious furry creature called a Mogwai as a gift. He’s warned that sunlight kills it, to never let it come into contact with water, and never feed it after midnight. Of course, this wouldn’t be a movie unless some of those rules were broken!