Christmas time is full of unspeakable horrors that usually involve elderly relatives getting drunk and telling younger relatives that they are “professional students,” “have put on a few pounds,” or “don’t know how to live like a human being.” It’s fun stuff to watch as long as you’re not the target. For such a period of happiness and goodwill, you’d never expect the horror genre to strive and prosper – but you’d be wrong. In fact, we’ve seen a plethora of quality Christmas horrors released in and around the festive season.
Yep, here are the very best Christmas horror movies. Ho. Freaking. Ho.
SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT (1984)
If you can’t afford Christmas presents for your kids, just make them watch this movie. Within the first 15 minutes an otherwise catatonic grandfather tells his grandson Billy that Santa will punish him if he’s bad, a guy in a Santa suit shoots Billy’s dad in the face, and Mom is sexually assaulted and her throat is slit. Of course, this causes Billy to grow up as a serial-killing madman who dresses like Santa Claus. I fell asleep about halfway through, but I thoroughly endorse the concept. Show this to your children or your siblings’ children when you think they might be headed down the spoiled-fucking-brat path. It will scare the “I want…” out of them.
SANTA’S SLAY (2005)
I’m almost certain this is the only movie that features Santa played by a professional wrestler who gets around on a sleigh driven by “hell deer” and shoots fireballs out of his mouth. It must have been the easiest casting call in the history of cinema: “We need an old-looking guy with a beard who doesn’t give a shit about his career or life in general.” Thirty minutes later, that Goldberg wrestler guy showed up, signed a contract, and the entire crew went to Hooters for the rest of the day. Whoever is putting together the DSM-V should include a specific diagnosis for the person who was insane enough to produce this screenplay.
Better Watch Out (2016)
There’s something sinister about 2016’s Better Watch Out and its Christmas setting. Its plot and setting could’ve taken place at any other place or time in the year, but it largely works due to the contrasting spirit of the festive season with the film’s premise. What it also successfully did was establish a different kind of antagonist that no one would’ve expected.
The usually mopey and fun-hating critics seemed to enjoy it as well, as it currently sits on an 81% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. We’re not saying that Better Watch Out should be on your watch list this holiday season; we’re saying it needs to be.
JACK FROST (1996)
If you’re like me, you’ll be surprised to find out that this isn’t a heartwarming fantasy comedy starring Michael Keaton as a doofus who transforms into a walking, talking snowman after being killed in a car crash. That particular movie didn’t happen until 1998, after a horrible producer got the bright idea to rip off the plot of this garbage (a serial killer en route to his execution is involved in a car accident with a truck carrying genetic material, which bonds with his body and the snow to create a murderous snowman) and spin it into a family film that cost $85 million. It made less than half of that at the box office. The other thing that the films have in common is that they’re both giant Yuletide logs of shit.
In 2015 Michael Dougherty’s Krampus was the sleeper hit of the season, as it powered its way to $61.5 million at the global box office. In fact, you could say it was his stylish blend of special effects and the engaging storyline (on a thin $15 million budget) that convinced Warner Bros. to hire Dougherty for the upcoming Godzilla: King of the Monsters.
Back to Krampus, it’s a dark retelling of the Austro-Bavarian folklore, but it also holds a special moral about the importance of family over the festive season. Quite simply, if you watch only one Christmas horror movie this year, make sure it’s Krampus.
Go ahead and pick one of these movies from our list, chances are you’re not surviving this holiday night!