News

5 Christmas Horror Movies – From the Sublime to the Ridiculous

'Tis the season to be gory.

by | December 2, 2015 | Comments

It’s Christmas time, and Krampus is coming to town to scare everyone who hasn’t gotten into the holiday spirit. And while the idea of mixing comfort and joy with jolts and screams might seem unusual, there’s a proud tradition of Yuletide scares.

After all, one of the most popular stories at this time of year is Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, in which four ghosts appear to frighten Ebenezer Scrooge into embracing the real meaning of the holiday. And even the original Christmas story has that whole slaying-of-the-firstborn undercurrent to it. (That’s a combination Bible epic/slasher movie that some exploitation filmmaker is bound to get around to one of these days.)

So if your idea of a holiday hero is Jack Skellington rather than George Bailey, here’s a list of five entertaining horror movies that will bring an extra chill to your December. (For a more complete list of scary, funny, exciting, sad, and pretty much every other kind of holiday movie, check out my book Have Yourself a Movie Little Christmas.)


Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010) 89%

Christmas-Export

In this fiendishly funny and frightening Finnish import, an excavation team makes a mysterious discovery while a young boy researches Santa Claus, only to discover that the old man is a fearsome legend who exists to punish naughty children. As strange events begin occurring around town, the boy fears that the diggers have uncovered Santa’s resting place, and that the man in the red suit plans to exact a hideous revenge.

Watch Trailer


Black Christmas (1974) 71%

Black-Christmas

Director Bob Clark is probably best known for the beloved A Christmas Story, but his first foray into Christmas stories was this pre-Halloween slasher classic about a group of sorority girls being tormented by an obscene phone caller just before winter break. Plucky Olivia Hussey is the valiant Final Girl, but the cast also includes Keir Dullea (2001), veteran comic actress Andrea Martin (who got stunt-cast in the far inferior 2006 remake), and the scene-stealing Margot Kidder, whose wry line readings are unforgettable.

Watch Trailer


Christmas Evil (1980) 83% (aka You Better Watch Out)

Christmas-Evil

This Santa-slasher horror movie is one of John Waters’ favorite movies, and it might just become one of yours, too. Brandon Maggart (a Tony nominee and Fiona Apple’s real-life dad) plays Harry, a toy factory employee obsessed with Santa Claus, giving himself a beard made of shaving cream and keeping tabs on which of the neighborhood kids have been nice and naughty. When he loses his job, Harry snaps and starts eliminating the people he thinks are lacking Christmas spirit, leading to a must-be-seen-to-be-believed finale. Ho ho ho!

Watch Trailer


Gremlins (1984) 84%

Gremlins

What would happen if you crossed It’s a Wonderful Life and a monster movie? Screenwriter Christopher Columbus (who would go on to direct another seasonal fave, Home Alone) and director Joe Dante decided to find out, subjecting the idyllic town of Kingston Falls to an invasion of the mogwai, creatures that start out cuddly but then turn nasty and start spawning offspring when they get wet. This movie has a nasty streak a mile wide, but its combination of dark laughs and genuine horror has made this one a Yuletide fave. (It also – in combination with another Steven Spielberg production, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – helped usher in the PG-13 rating.)

Watch Trailer


Jack Frost (1996) 7%

Jack-Frost

Forget every other film you’ve ever seen about a serial killer who gets turned into a homicidal snowman: this one’s the real deal. Stemming from a genuinely ludicrous concept, this story about a prisoner whose DNA mixes with experimental acid in the Snowman Capitol of America finds the humorous in the horrific, and vice versa. Keep an eye out for a pre–American Pie Shannon Elizabeth, who turns up to get assaulted by the titular monster. (Not to be confused with the Michael Keaton movie of the same name – that one’s arguably even creepier.)

Watch Trailer


Follow Alonso Duralde on Twitter at @ADuralde.

  • John Rivet

    What? no Silent Night, Deadly Night. That’s a classic now.

  • Brian

    Santa’s Slay is circles better than Jack Frost. Featuring Emilie De Ravin from Lost, a bravura Christmas dinner opening, stop motion animation at one point, and curling as a major plot device, it’s certainly better than any other film starring Bill Goldberg.

    • And it’s a comedy! With some genuine laughs!

  • Tenshi Ippikiookami

    for me the best will always be Gremlins. It was the first I watch, when I was around 7 or 8, and the mix of horror and comedy for a child was amazing., Joe Dante, where are you :)?

  • Michael Flinn

    Okay, Gremlins is a given but no Child’s Play? While not centered around Christmas, it takes place around the holidays and what epitomizes holiday horror more than a killer toy?

  • Roberto

    No Die Hard?

    • somwun

      Not horror

Tag Cloud

Summer biography ABC Family 2018 cars Lifetime Musicals discovery Marvel Television GIFs cops vampires dogs romantic comedy Infographic reboot screen actors guild ghosts ratings Mindy Kaling BET FX Starz Reality YouTube Premium political drama San Diego Comic-Con Countdown Sci-Fi Reality Competition crime thriller First Look Binge Guide YA Spike NYCC Syfy 24 frames Martial Arts Food Network screenings President CNN Tarantino USA anthology Character Guide independent RT21 crime movie documentary Mystery Emmy Nominations zero dark thirty E! cancelled TV shows Esquire psychological thriller NBC Lucasfilm transformers 2017 doctor who sports Comics on TV police drama teaser scary movies technology zombies 20th Century Fox quibi X-Men FX on Hulu romance Cartoon Network Election Peacock Apple TV+ period drama cancelled TV series Tomatazos Vudu binge Crackle social media MSNBC Disney streaming service politics Nominations FOX video Rocketman A&E The Purge south america Comic Book breaking bad Biopics natural history SXSW Turner Classic Movies facebook hist Hallmark Christmas movies Ghostbusters Acorn TV dramedy TLC Mary poppins Comedy Central New York Comic Con Brie Larson Animation Disney Plus SundanceTV crossover justice league Academy Awards based on movie composers Oscars Amazon blaxploitation Paramount Network Star Wars tv talk Bravo Anna Paquin American Society of Cinematographers anime TCA Trivia dragons foreign franchise Schedule spanish language boxoffice CBS All Access unscripted 2015 spinoff Baby Yoda Endgame Holiday dceu 45 Trophy Talk adaptation Adult Swim Country National Geographic Paramount comics robots miniseries YouTube Shudder Ovation richard e. Grant cartoon versus joker Box Office space Stephen King 2016 Pride Month theme song Quiz VH1 Rom-Com canceled singing competition award winner Chernobyl strong female leads Star Trek Certified Fresh Red Carpet First Reviews halloween Video Games festivals jamie lee curtis blockbuster Calendar science fiction Cosplay cancelled Valentine's Day Epix Marvel Arrowverse ESPN The CW Amazon Prime Video BBC Amazon Prime supernatural PBS spain Sneak Peek serial killer Mary Tyler Moore Netflix Christmas movies werewolf Masterpiece CBS comic Pirates 21st Century Fox nature movies SDCC latino OWN thriller Spring TV comiccon Sundance sag awards aliens Lionsgate Shondaland DC streaming service Elton John Family Ellie Kemper Warner Bros. TBS casting rotten movies we love El Rey USA Network Interview spy thriller Creative Arts Emmys talk show Western Fantasy VICE cancelled television CW Seed finale Set visit Lifetime Christmas movies TCA 2017 Horror name the review RT History Sundance TV APB Britbox Action Classic Film MCU Trailer TIFF FXX Hallmark Women's History Month television OneApp Tubi sequel crime drama Film Festival Logo Television Academy Sony Pictures Discovery Channel Fall TV A24 Disney+ Disney Plus green book canceled TV shows Disney streaming Teen 71st Emmy Awards Emmys stand-up comedy spider-man TCA Winter 2020 ABC Hulu Spectrum Originals 007 Marvel Studios Avengers witnail IFC Films docudrama game show Watching Series Rocky TV series what to watch game of thrones Funimation Black Mirror sitcom harry potter Premiere Dates Nat Geo TCM Pixar 2020 Holidays DC Universe Apple DGA Thanksgiving Nickelodeon Dark Horse Comics elevated horror Black History Month psycho Opinion Extras LGBT diversity LGBTQ zombie Year in Review cats cults YouTube Red Musical GLAAD Apple TV Plus kids 2019 The Arrangement Drama Turner Christmas MTV TNT Comedy indie Mudbound adventure Pop TV universal monsters Winners Mary Poppins Returns children's TV Marathons See It Skip It Song of Ice and Fire HBO Music WarnerMedia Film DC Comics revenge animated Awards Tour CMT directors christmas movies Fox News Walt Disney Pictures The Witch TV renewals TV Land Disney Channel cooking toy story Super Bowl Grammys Heroines golden globes Freeform Toys Travel Channel WGN Pet Sematary Sundance Now war Superheroe renewed TV shows dc GoT Amazon Studios disaster E3 travel medical drama Superheroes Cannes cinemax Chilling Adventures of Sabrina slashers mutant Winter TV Rock Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Awards TruTV DirecTV Kids & Family Best and Worst The Walking Dead mockumentary book Netflix Columbia Pictures Pop Writers Guild of America Polls and Games reviews Captain marvel historical drama PaleyFest hispanic Tumblr free movies BBC America Universal History ITV Podcast Photos Showtime HBO Max IFC AMC true crime Crunchyroll batman