RT's Top Holiday Thrillers -- Christmas Countdown, Day Three

by | December 20, 2006 | Comments

Welcome to Day Three of RT’s Five Days of Christmas Countdown, in which we serve up a different list each day of the best holiday flicks around. Today, we’ve got the best-reviewed holiday thrillers — a list that includes a proto-slasher, a cop/buddy flick, and a wrestling match between love and hate.

The holidays are here, and it’s time to break out the sleds, roast the chestnuts, and watch a movie or five about yuletide magic (or a decided lack thereof). And when in doubt regarding your best viewing for any occasion, as always, we’re here to help; the merry elves at Rotten Tomatoes have listed the Tomatometers, checked them twice, and will be presenting, during the Five Days of Christmas, the best-reviewed holiday films in the following categories: Classics, Comedies, Animated/Children’s, Dramas, and Thrillers. Pour yourself a cup of eggnog and get ready for some fine seasonal viewing!

Top Five Holiday Thrillers

All this holiday cheer is all well and good, but what if you like a few chills to go with your jingle bells? We’ve got just the five movies for you. Whether it’s running barefoot through shards of broken glass, Shelley Winters at the bottom of a lake, or sorority girls being hunted down by a murderous psychopath that strikes your yuletide fancy, you’ll find it here!

5) Black Christmas (1975) 63%

Think John Carpenter‘s "Halloween" invented the use of the killer’s-perspective shot? Nope — they’re all over the place in Bob Clark‘s "Black Christmas," released a full four years earlier. Not a film geek and don’t care? Not to worry, "Black Christmas" has lots to love, including the stunning Olivia Hussey (otherwise known as "The Hottest Juliet in the History of Film") and pre-fame versions of Margot Kidder and Andrea Martin. For its 32nd birthday, "Black Christmas" is receiving the big-budget remake treatment. It is bound to suck. Rent the original instead, and you’ll be likely to jump in terror the first time someone calls to wish you a merry Christmas.

Starring: Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea
Directed by: Bob Clark

4) Gremlins (1984) 80%

"No exposure to bright light. Don’t get him wet. And never feed him after midnight." These would later go on to be helpful rules for taking care of young "Gremlins" star Corey Feldman, but in this holiday classic, they’re the three quick steps from cuddly Mogwai to leathery, troublemaking Gremlin. One of a series of mid-1980s kids’ classics from director Joe Dante, "Gremlins" is notable for helping to provoke the invention of the PG-13 rating, which seems laughably quaint if you compare its more violent bits with those of, say, "Spy Kids." (If viewed back-to-back with "The Santa Clause," "Gremlins" will make for a very Judge Reinhold Christmas. And there isn’t a thing wrong with that.)

Starring: Hoyt Axton, Phoebe Cates
Directed by: Joe Dante

3) Lethal Weapon (1987) 91%

This film’s connection to the season may seem rather tenuous, and we suppose it might be; that being said, it’s hard to argue with the inclusion of a movie in which Christmas is celebrated immediately after Gary Busey receives a brutal, richly deserved public pummeling. Were the sequels necessary? Hardly, but that doesn’t make a dent in Richard Donner‘s steely direction, Mel Gibson and Danny Glover‘s easy chemistry, or Michael Kamen and Eric Clapton‘s terrific score.

Starring: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover
Directed by: Richard Donner

2) Die Hard (1988) 95%



Nothing says "Christmas" like sending a dead terrorist in a Santa cap down an elevator with a note saying "Ho, ho, ho. Now I’ve got a gun." After Bruce Willis killed his movie career with "Blind Date" and "Sunset," it was "Die Hard" that brought it back from the dead — while simultaneously reinventing large chunks of the entire action-movie genre. The sequels couldn’t help but be inferior (and it’s best not even to think about the upcoming "Die Hard 4.0"), but the first entry in the John McClane saga is a lean, mean action machine. Revisit Nakatomi Plaza this season and let the bullets fly all over again.

Starring: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman
Directed by: John McTiernan

1) The Night of the Hunter (1955) 100%

Ah, noir for the holidays — there’s nothing like it. Christmas may not be the first thing on your mind when you watch the tale of murderous Harry Powell (played by Robert Mitchum) and his quest to learn the location of a treasure hidden by his dead prison cellmate, and in fact, there’s nothing terribly jolly about impersonating a preacher or marrying a woman to get at her kids. But if a bloody shiv in your stocking sounds like some primo Christmas cheer, "Night of the Hunter" will have you shaking like a bowl full of jelly.

Starring: Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters
Directed by: Charles Laughton

Click here for Day Two: Top Five Seasonal Dramas
Click here for Day One: Top Five Yuletide Comedies

Tag Cloud

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