Christmas themed horror movies are a great antidote for the suffocating cheer of the holidays. There’s nothing like taking all the wholesome happiness of Christmas and lousing it up with gore.
If the most wonderful time of the year is getting you down, put some murderous monsters, psycho snowmen and European folklore nightmares on your Christmas list.
(Really) Bad Santas
This is a grimy little Christmas treat that straddles the line between winking humor and genuine horror. The cheap and dirty aesthetic is punctuated by surprising moments of inspired filmmaking. It’s so kinky and singular John Waters called it the greatest Christmas movie ever made and recorded a commentary track for its DVD release.
Silent Night, Deadly Night
Parents and critics got their Christmas stockings in a bunch when this Santa slasher opened in 1984. Siskel and Ebert said SNDN was among the most detestable movies ever made. Despite or perhaps because of the controversy, the filmmakers made a truckload of sequels to it; SNDN II is internet famous for its bizarre “Garbage Day” murders.
Don’t Open Till Christmas
This one switches up the Santa slasher model. Instead of a killer Santa, it’s a movie about a guy who kills Santas. A for innovation, but D for delivery.
Santa, played by pro wrestler Bill Goldberg, is the son of Satan and was forced to spread Christmas cheer after losing a bet. He stalks Fran Drescher and other people from TV shows. It’s an important lesson in how you can’t force a cult movie.
Psychological Christmas Warfare
One of the first slasher movies ever made, Black Christmas’ star-studded cast includes future Lois Lane, Margot Kidder. Despite its title, the movie is light on Christmas content; it’s a standard issue lunatic vs. sorority girls picture tied up with a Christmas bow.
Silent Night, Bloody Night
Despite the always welcome presence of B-movie Queen Mary Woronov, a barely awake John Carradine (I think he literally grunts his way through his only scene in the movie) and a cameo by Warhol superstar Candy Darling, SNBN is mostly a snooze. The entire movie is available for free on YouTube, so you can have it on in the background as you wrap presents without spending a dime.
Please note: this is not the Michael Keaton movie of the same name. A serial killer magically becomes a snowman and goes on a killing rampage, only to find defeat at the hands of scientists armed with hair dryers. It’s not as clever as it thinks it is. Nonetheless, the world is a better place for its existence.
A Finnish a mining crew accidentally unearths the real Santa Claus and, whoopsy daisy, it turns out he’s not nice at all. In fact, he’s an ancient force of murderous evil—as naughty as it gets. This Finnish action horror gem is refreshingly unsentimental about kids and Christmas—innocence almost triggers the apocalypse rather than saving the day.
While it’s never quite as mean-spirited as it needs to be, Krampus is a worthwhile addition to the Christmas horror canon. The stellar cast, from the always dependable Adam Scott to Anchorman’s David Koechner and the Fargo TV show star Allison Tolman, gamely brings life to a thinly sketched story about Christmas monster Krampus wreaking havoc in an American suburb.