Ho Ho help – A killer’s on the loose! The best Christmas horror movies
It’s the holiday season, and a time when we should give thanks…for all of the horror film franchises in our lives.
There are only so many times one can watch A Christmas Story before starting to root for Scut Farkus (Zack Ward) to pull a Michael Myers on Ralphie Parker and his gang of delinquents. There is something intrinsically creepy about Santa Claus sneaking into one’s house in the dead of night. All of these horror flicks have done a better job parodying than we can.
So pull up to a cackling fire, pour some eggnog, and lock your doors tight as we go through the creepiest holiday films of the past 50 years.
Batman Returns (1992)
Some people might not qualify 1992’s Batman Returns as a horror film. Clearly, those people have clearly never had night terrors of Danny DeVito as the Penguin creeping ever closer towards them with his deformed fish hands.
A proper holiday horror fest must lean into the camp. Batman Returns is packed full of flame-throwing clowns, penguins with bombs attached to them, and a woman in black latex licking herself clean. The film also has Batman (Michael Keaton).
Christmas is on full display in Gotham City with a soft covering of snow blanketing the never-ending parade of murderous weirdos hell-bent on city-wide domination. Batman Returns deals with the rise of Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer), the fall of Max Schreck (Christopher Walken), and the staggering rise and fall of the Penguin. It is campy and fun and packed with action, like a Christmas present with a bomb inside.
Director Michael Dougherty has already blessed us once with the underrated Halloween-themed Trick ‘r Treat in 2007. Dougherty returned in 2015 with Krampus, a festive holiday romp of a yuletide demon/part-goatman out to torture naughty children.
Krampus is the anti-Santa. He’s a German-speaking hellbeast accidentally summoned to the home of a nice, suburban family comprised of Adam Scott, Toni Collette, and Allison Tolman. It’s funny, it’s scary, it’s based on actual legends. It makes for a perfect holiday flick!
If you think about it, then it kind of makes sense for Santa to appear as the devil. Both appear unbidden in your home at night, dressed all in red, with your name inked in a book that says if you’ve been good or bad all year.
Silent Night, Bloody Night (1974)
Obviously anything filmed in the 1970s is going to be filled with gore, violence, and exploitative material. 1974’s Silent Night, Bloody Night is one of the messiest films on this list. A typical Christmas eve is interrupted by an ax murderer on the loose, and he decides to target a house that was previously an insane asylum.
Black Christmas (1974)
Black Christmas (1974) was masterminded by the same man who would eventually give TNT/TBS a reason for existing with their 24-hour marathons of A Christmas Story. Before Bob Clark wrote and directed the story of a small boy dedicated to shooting his eye out on Christmas morning, he gave us Black Christmas.
In the days leading up to Christmas, a murderer starts picking off a group of sorority girls. It was cited as a key inspiration for Halloween, and suffers from remake syndrome with the woefully inferior 2006 version of the same name. (There’s another remake coming out in 2019.)
Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
It’s telling how many of these films have repurposed Christmas lyrics to show that they are 1) centered around the holiday and 2) packed to the gills with dead bodies. The 1984 slasher classic garnered four sequels and a 2012 remake. The first, however, remains the best of the bunch.
In much the same vein as literally all slasher films, a young boy witnesses his parents get brutally murdered in front of him by a deranged killer in a Santa suit. He grows up, gets a job at a toy store, and pulls the anti-Batman by performing a similar killing spree over the holidays dressed as the killer who took his parents.
Anna and the Apocalypse (2018)
This 2018 instant classic is for the holiday horror fan who would appreciate a few less killers, and a few more musical numbers. Anna and the Apocalypse follows a zombie attack on a small town. This forces a small group of high school kids to band together and try to save the day. It has catchy Christmas tunes, zombies, teen angst, and a woman beating people to death with a giant candy cane.
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)
We are… not sure how to describe this one. Much like the little boy who saw mommy kissing Santa Claus, seeing is believing with the 2010 Finnish film. There are dead reindeer, an old naked man, and a truly bizarre dismantling of the lore of Santa Claus.