Top Ten Christmas Movies…of Horror!

Can you believe I haven’t made this list yet?! And just barely in time for Christmas. Although I’m not the biggest fan of Christmas most years, I’m always a fan of horror. Unfortunately, there are no Chanukah or Kwanzaa horror-holiday films, so here are some movies about creepy Saint Nick and bad presents.

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Honorable Mention: Jack Frost (1997)

I don’t know why the cover image for this movie has a weird, CGI skeleton face, because the horror Jack Frost looks exactly like the kids movie Jack Frost except with angry eyebrows. But guess what… this one came out first! I love a good evil snowman, but this one ain’t making the cut because of the ridiculous carrot rape scene.

 

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10. Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) or Christmas Evil (1980)

I’m cheating a little, here, but there aren’t a lot of Christmas horrors that are more than just set around the holidays. Both of these films are generic, eighties slasher nonsense, but they each have a good ole killer Santa.

 

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9. Christmas Horror Story (2015)

This four-pack anthology feels like a Christmas version of Trick R’ Treat. The film includes a lonely radio host, a group of teenagers investigating old crimes at a school, a creepy kid, a white-powdered Krampus, a Santa in need of a bath, and obviously, a group of zombie elves. The story about the changeling I liked best- it seemed very real, and was only ruined by the costumey look of the monster up-close. It’s about a family who loses their son in the woods and takes home the wrong version of him instead. The ending isn’t bad, but the movie could have been built with two of these stories.

 

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8. Krampus (2015)

I mean, it’s not the best movie. There is way too much going on and the gingerbread men and flashback animations almost push it into an unwatchable category. The Krampus idea hadn’t been used much before this movie came out, and I thought they did a good job with the look and feel of the character. It just needed a little more direction and focus, even though the idea of a family hiding from a Krampus storm seems like a pretty simple idea.

7. Better Watch Out (2016)

This home invasion horror-thriller doesn’t have a lot to do with Christmas, but there is a Christmas tree and lights and snow and such. There’s a twist in the middle, but overall, it’s pretty predictable. A babysitter and an awkward pre-teen who’s in love with her hide from intruders. It should have been better, but there was an unsuccessful attempt at a comedy shimmer that just didn’t work. It needed tension, creep, and more of a horror direction instead. (I recently saw the trailer, and if I had been tricked by this first, I probably would have appreciated it more, so watch that first.)

 

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6. Sint (2010)

Sint (Saint) is a Dutch scarytale about Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas), an undead bishop who rides around on his horse killing people. It’s an original movie with an awful climax and lots of holiday cheer and fear, although I’m not sure how I feel about the whole “Black Pete” situation.

 

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5. Silent Night (2012)

Another instantly forgettable Christmas title attached to a decent holiday horror. A killer Santa with a mask slaughters the naughty while police people, Sugar and Salty, fail miserably at trying to stop him from killing… literally everybody.  But you want everyone to die these random, horrible deaths because they’re all just disposable Barbies who make moronic choices like running straight towards the murderer. To wrap this little movie gift up nicely, it’s bad decisions and ruthless killing fun.

 

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4. Rare Exports (2010)

A film from Finland with an original story that I’m not even quite sure how to describe. Like a horror fairytale come to life where Santa is a giant Krampus-like creature who has been frozen in ice. The elves are old, hunched over men with wispy beards, and they want all the children for Santa once he’s melted. A little boy, his dad, and the hunters try to stop evil Santa and the elves in a part humor part action-drama sort of way.

 

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3. Gremlins (1984)

It all started in Chinatown… and when you buy a gift for someone in Chinatown, there are always strange rules that come with it, such as ‘no food after midnight’! About a sweet kid who breaks all the rules and endures the “horrors” of the evil-turned mogwais. Even though they’re mean and nasty, there’s a lot of cuteness going on in this film. It’s a very unusual and special Christmas movie, but not so heavy on the horror.

 

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2. Black Christmas (1974)

Here is your original, seventies, better than the sequels and decently constructed horror film. It’s about a group of sorority girls who are murdered in their home on campus. There’s no charcoal snow, or African Santas to make the title make sense, but the character development is refreshing and this well-directed gem is definitely one to watch. You can probably skip the remake, though.

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1. The Gingerdead Man (2005)

I really love the whole trilogy of Gary Busey as an evil, murderous, cookie. It’s not like there are all these amazing, scary Christmas movies out there, so might as well indulge in some yummy horror silliness. It’s probably already what you’ve guessed: a killer’s blood gets into some cookie batter resulting in the baked cookie going on a bite-sized murdering spree. I’m pretty sure I laughed at movie number two’s title for about twenty minutes. Check it out.

 

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Buckout Road (2017)

Score: 6.5/10

Length: 97

Rating: NR

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, recommended, witch, murderer, supernatural, ghost, woods

As seen at CIFF. The director, Matthew Currie Holmes, a Canadian known for his acting, was there and what a personality! He was handing out beers to the audience, and personally thanked everyone for coming. Luckily, it was a good film. Starring Evan Ross (who I just learned is Diana Ross’ son)! It’s all about urban legends, and although it focusses on a few of them, the idea doesn’t over-complicate the film. It centres around a bad boy, a girl with a past, and the sleepwalking twins as they try to solve a curse by investigating the past. The acting was strong, the photography was ideal, and the only thing I wasn’t really so fond of was the end. The whole “never can escape” thing was not the strongest possible ending I hope for, but it was satisfying enough. The movie was engaging, imaginative, and well planned-out, so I was pleasantly surprised, as you never know what to expect at a film festival.

XX (2017)

Score: 4/10*

Length: 80

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, monster, murderer, toys, anthology, holiday

This anthology is all female directors and lead actors (but not writers), so the disappointment with the film hit harder than usual. One of the stories is even written by the musician, St. Vincent who is a gifted visionary.  The film has four stories that aren’t related to each other at all, and none of them are original, memorable, creative, or provide any indication that this movie is focused on women. The only thing I can picture myself remembering when thinking of this film later is the strange, doll-head stop motion in between the segments. Also, I get why the film is called “XX“, but considering there’s a band already with the same name, they really could have tried a little harder. This whole film feels like a real lack of effort on everyone’s part.

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The Box

In one line: Cannibals at Christmas.

Good: I liked the mystery around what was in the box and this was probably the best story out of the four. It had clear direction to it.

Bad: The script was pretty cheesy, and there were parts that didn’t exactly make a lot of sense to me.

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The Birthday Party

In one line: Dead dad ruins birthday party.

Good: The struggles of a mom trying to make everything okay for her child’s birthday is relatable. The costumes are also hilarious, and I appreciated the quirky vibe.

Bad: It’s really just an episode of a woman dragging around a man’s dead body and that can get pretty dull.

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Don’t Fall

In one line: Monsters in the desert.

Good: The monster was fairly well done. Good makeup as opposed to CGI.

Bad: It was a pretty overdone story idea with nothing special added to it.

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Her Only Living Son

In one line: Teenager turns into violent werewolf-monster of sorts.

Good: Again, the mom’s struggles were relatable.

Bad: There wasn’t really an ending, and the son making the mom crawl towards him on her knees was pretty cringe-worthy.

 

* I’m giving this an overall score, as none of the shorts were anything special, and none were better or worse than any other, which is pretty rare. All in all, the meh movie is getting a meh overall score.

Annabelle: Creation

Score: 7/10*

Length: 109

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, murderer, toys, prequel, devil, ghost

Waaaaaaaaaaaaay better than the first one. Probably to do with the director, David F. Sandberg, who also did Lights Out. There are a few upcoming directors I’m following, and this guy might add himself to my list. The screenplay is by Gary Dauberman (Annabelle and the upcoming It and The Nun) and of course, it’s produced by James Wan. I don’t usually discuss the people behind the movie, but this is a real winning combination of horror minds. Lulu Wilson also stood out to me- I remembered her from Ouija: Origin of Evil, and Deliver Us from Evil. I hope she continues with the horror genre. So this one stuck with the demon/ ghost girl/ doll theme pretty well, although three things is already pushing it for me. I don’t particularly find dolls scary, so I’m glad the demon was involved. I feel more and more the importance of a movie’s consistency and main focus not muddied by other entities and useless storylines, so this was mildly refreshing. I was glad that the film focussed on the scares and darkness instead of lame CGI and a billion different monsters like some lazy movies…*cough*… Insidious. There were a few scenes and effects I could have done without, but overall, it was pretty solid. The acting was decent, and this film really knew how to drag out the tension. There were even a few cute touches thrown in, such as the original Raggedy Ann doll and the nun from The Conjuring, lurking in a photo. I could have done with more of a backstory to the girl and the doll and I’m still waiting to learn more about the demon. After seeing the first Annabelle, disappointment of the second installment was inevitable, however, I was quite impressed, which was most likely due to my low expectations.

*Friend score average: 6.2

The Bye Bye Man (2017)

Score: 3.5/10

Length: 97

Rating: PG-13

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, monster, ghost, devil, murderer

A nauseating couple and the guy’s childhood best friend move into a house in need of some renovations. They find some old stuff, say the bad bye bye words, and then the ghost-demon or whatever infects their brains, turning people into delusional killers. There’s a lot of stupid garbage in the movie. Like, the obvious one, the name of movie’s antagonist, and the title of the movie. Or perhaps, the dreadful script. The so-called (for reasons unknown) Bye Bye Man, who we see way too much of, reminds me of this guy from Beastly (which I obviously haven’t watched, but I remember the awful movie poster).  However, I did like the whole Vanilla Sky, “what’s real, what’s not??” situation. There were a few mini mind-fucks that caught me off-guard but there were a few dumb ones as well. This is not a film I’d recommend, but I didn’t feel like it was a waste of time or anything and the ending was kind of cute. If only that wit had been in the rest of the film.

Raw (2016)

Score: 6/10*

Length: 99

Rating: R

Language: French

Other title: Grave

Categories: 2000s, recent, murderer, gore porn

This French film was a “must see” at the festivals. It’s akin to Teeth or Ginger Snaps in that it’s fresh, mildly original, and centred around a beautiful, flesh-biting teenager. However, as in most French movies I have seen, the gore is thick, and the blood is bright. Raw is about a vegetarian college student who is forced to eat rabbit during a hazing ritual, and as a result, gains an irresistible urge to devour humans. She lets her douchey sister who is attending the same veterinary school be cruel to her again and again as she parties with the crowds of other students. I guess maybe when you’re the younger sister you are very forgiving as you just want attention from your older, cooler, sibling, but it was frustrating to watch, nonetheless. There are a few really gory scenes, but the most cringeworthy was the finger-sucking. My biggest wish is that the film leaned more to one side- a dark comedy or a thrilling horror. Because of this, I felt it lacked a bit of… bite. Although the ending was nicely-wrapped, it was guessable and geared towards a non-horror crowd.

*Friend Score: 6.5/10

Get Out (2017)

Score: 6.5/10

Length: 104

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, murderer, almost horror, psychological

This film was very hyped-up with super reviews but I was careful not to let it get my hopes up, just in case. It’s a good movie, with an original idea, but it seems to be more of a mystery-thriller than horror to me. Perhaps it was all the TSA jokes. It felt like a combination of The Skeleton Key, Being John Malkovich, and Under the Skin, (which are all fantastic films) and I enjoyed the mix of psychology and sci-fi. I was glad to not have to yell at the screen when things made no sense. The characters were well-thought out and well-developed. Daniel Kaluuya (you’ll probably know him from Black Mirror) is very relatable in his roles, and Allison Williams was an easy choice for the waspy white girl. The movie is about a guy who goes to meet his girlfriend’s family, but something is not right- all the help, who just so happen to be black, seem to be dazed and acting fake like they’re existing in some sort of deluded pleasantville. It’s clear they’ve been brainwashed into being servants and sex slaves, but it’s a little bit more tricky and strange than that. I thought I’d save this to the end- this is the first movie directed by Jordan Peele. You might not recognize the name, but you’ll recognize his face. He’s a comedy TV actor mostly, but appeared recently in Keanu. The comedic flare to this film makes quite a bit of sense now, but I’m still pretty shocked that he directed it.

Rings (2017)

Score: 5/10

Length: 102

Rating: PG-13

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, ghost, religious, murderer

I will start off by saying that I’ve been waiting for this movie for YEARS. The 3D version, that is. When the first Ring movie came out I was still obsessed with 3D, and I fantasized about what it’d be like to see Samara crawl out of the theatre screen and towards a terrified audience. This film was delayed several times, and I didn’t realize until I had bought the tickets that this release was not, in fact, 3D and was now just titled Rings instead of Rings 3D. I was annoyed to say the least, but let me unenthusiastically review what I did get to see, by a director who has barely any experience (he’s only released one full-length film prior to this one). The third installment in the Ring series focuses around Samara’s birth mother and uncovering the story behind her suffering. The plot is easy to follow and mostly makes sense without being looking like there was minimal effort put into it. There are, however, a bunch of character decisions that make absolutely no sense. Like why was there no one helping the guy in the totalled car? And why on Earth did she think it was a good idea to wonder around exploring by herself and leaving her boyfriend to figure out where she might be? Stuuupid. But what I REALLY don’t understand is why the tape isn’t shown to someone who is going to die anyway. Say, someone with a terminal disease. You’d think that’d be simple solution. Besides the lazy choices, the movie doesn’t have many obvious faults except that I doubt an old ghost would know how to work technology that well. A movie within a movie…. pshht. There isn’t much tension, but there are a lot of silly jump scares. The acting is fine, the make-up and effects are good enough, and the ending (which reminds me of The Exorcist) isn’t an awful one. Unfortunately, it’s hard to get over the fact that the first movie pretty scary, and this one just wasn’t.

Fun fact: The adult contortionist playing Samara shares the same last name: Morgan.

Review for original Ring movie (2002) here