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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.