‘Tis the season for Yuletide greetings, holiday movies, and holiday music everywhere. It’s that time of year where things seem to be set aside for good tidings towards your fellow folx. Many of us may have a hard time believing that Halloween is almost two months past and left feeling like we need more. So where do you turn for your scares during this holiday season? Here is a list of Top Ten Christmas/Holiday Horror Movies for your dark viewing pleasure.
10. Elves (1989)
What do you get when you combine Grizzly Adams star, Dan Haggerty, zombies, elves, and Nazi experiments? You get this 1989 holiday horror nightmare called Elves. The beginning of this film you see three girls casting a spell in the woods. The girls call on the sisters for anti-Christmas and one accidentally cuts herself, spilling her blood on the ground. The girls decide it was enough fun and leave, unbeknownst to them, their dabbling has set in nothing a Nazi ritual to summon an evil Christmas spirit in the form of elves. The ritual was created for the Nazis to continue their mission of creating a master race… through elves. As bodies start piling up, a has-been cop, Haggerty, enters to try to solve the mystery. If you like no holds barred, irreverent characters in a movie script that doesn’t take itself seriously while trying to be artistic, then try to find this 1980s bottom shelf horror movie. Just make sure to plug in your tree lights, spike your eggnog, and snuggle under your blanket, first.
9. Saint Nick (2010)
As kids, we’re told that we better watch out, we better not cry, and to be good for goodness sake, all in hopes that Santa will visit us. What if St. Nick wasn’t the giving type. It instead punished those he came across. This dark comedy/horror takes a spin on St. Nicholas Eve, December 5th, where St. Nicholas comes to punish those he feels deserves it. Once every 32 years, St. Nicholas returns from the grave to exact vengeance on Amsterdam for his first death. This movie has it all, sec out of wedlock, drugs, and vengeful spirits. What it lacks is a good script and acting. “St. Nicholas Eve is nice but you always get junk you don’t really need.” This movie makes sure to drive home to lock your doors tight on this holiday and be sure to stay out of St. Nick’s way on his night.
8. A Christmas Horror Story (2015)
The small rustic town of Bailey Downs is settling in for a Christmas holiday one year after the mysterious and brutal killings of two of the town’s teenagers. William Shatner plays a radio do that shares his views on the holiday season while hosting a holiday show for a town that has seemed to have lost their holiday spirit. This movie plays in a vignette format similar to the Halloween movie Trick ‘R’ Treat. The big difference is that in this movie they all are taking place at the same time. This can lead to some confusion in following the story. Nonetheless, watch as zombie elves try to take over the North Pole, Krampus taunts a family prone to being bad, Changelings torment a police office that found the murdered kids one year ago, and an college investigative tv crew is left to deal with a haunted basement that was the scene of the tragic murders. Is there something spooking going on in Bailey Downs this Christmas? Watch this fun ride of holiday horror to find out.
7. Gremlins (1984)
This movie proves the old adage of “be careful what you ask for”, even at Christmas. In the sleepy New York town of Kingston Falls, a gadget salesman, Rand Peltzer, is on the search for a unique gift for his son, Billy. As he meanders through Chinatown, trying to sell his gadgets to local stores, he comes across a shop that carries items that cannot be found anywhere else. He meets a “Mogwai” and decides he has to have it. The shopkeeper is reluctant to sell it and tells him about the amount of care it needs. He leaves empty handed only to meet the man’s grandson who offers it to Rand. When Rand gives it to his son, he shares the rules of keeping the mogwai safe, never expose to sunlight, never get wet, and most importantly never, ever feed after midnight. An unfortunately accident left Gizmo, the mogwai, getting wet and a batch of new mogwai are created. From here the madness grows. The town is taken over by an invasive species and it is left up to Billy and Gizmo to save the day. By the end of this movie, you understand why your mother was always on your case to take care of your toys.
6. Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
The movie opens to a family going to see their grandfather who is in a care facility and is unresponsive. On the way, Billy is asking his mother about Santa and how he will find him since they aren’t going to be home. Once at the facility, the grandfather grabs Billy to warn him that Santa knows if children have been bad and will punish them if they have been, severely. On the drive home a scared Billy is asking his mom about it. At the same time, somewhere else a Santa holds up a convenience store and kills the clerk and flees the scene. Billy’s family runs into a Santa broke down on the road and happens to be the same Santa that robbed and killed the clerk. The Santa kills Billy’s parents and Billy flees the scene. He watches as Santa attempts to rape then kill his mother. Billy ends up in an orphanage with his brother. The movie jumps ahead to when Billy is 18 and starts work in a local toy store. As Christmas approaches, the vivid memories of the childhood murder surface inside Billy along with the teachings from the orphanage where the nuns beat into him that the guilty must be punished. Billy is asked to play Santa on Christmas Eve, for the toy store, and the idea of punishing the guilty takes over Billy.
This is the second movie in the list where Santa becomes the villain. Silent Night, Deadly Night has received many negative reviews over the years. Personally, its a sleeper of a movie. It is nice to see a slasher flick where the main character actually has a backstory for what drives them. The trauma child-Billy goes through is hurt wrenching and, at times, keeps us engaged. The kills are bloody and unique, for the era. The biggest problem is the seemingly pervy nature of Billy, in this movie. Spying at keyholes, staring leeringly from distances, and the focusing on women who seem sexually active seem a tired cliche, even for the time frame. Still… this movie is worth a glass of eggnog and some sugar cookies. Enjoy.
5. Black Christmas (2019)
This is the third remake of the 1974 classic and is another horror movie where a sorority is the plot device of the movie. Welcome to Hawthorne College and it is just before Christmas break. The campus is buzzing with people getting ready to go home and a few that are throwing last minute parties. The girls of Mu Kappa Epsilon (MKE or Moos) are putting together a Christmas musical for their Fraternity brothers. Sister Riley is still going through the emotional trauma of being attacked by one of the brothers. All of this is going on as a silent stranger is stalking the sororities of the campus. Soon the killer moves his sights to the MKEs, Kris and Riley take that charge against the killer. Will they survive the night and make it home for the holidays? For all of you Carey Elwes fans, this movie will give you another horror story with him as a character. While not as groundbreaking or well shot as the 1974 original, this movie does have its quaint charm. So grab one of those gift cards, you know you will get, and have a movie night with this holiday horror romp.
4. Christmas Evil (1980)
As the movie opens, we are witness to a mother and her sons “stealthily” spying on the living room waiting for Old Saint Nick. As he drops down the chimney we see him sample the snacks left out before placing presents under the tree. As one of the sons giggles a bit too loud, Santa realizes he is being watched. He turns, smiles and lays a finger aside his nose and rises up the chimney. Moments later Harry tries to talk to his brother Philip about what they witnessed. Philip only believes it was his father. Harry, upset, sneaks off to look at all Santa has left. His horror filled eyes witness Santa being frisky with his mother and his image is shattered. Scarred by this memory, Harry goes on to become obsessed with Christmas and goes to work at a local toy factory. All the while he is searching for his “tune.” This Christmas, Harry wants to give back to all the good boys and girls and teach the bad ones a lesson.
This is the first ever movie where we witness the jolly old elf wielding a knife against people and as such received massive negative reviews. The UK prosecuted this movie for its obscenity and was seized and confiscated. Under Section 3 of its Obscene Publications Act 1959. This is a dark movie, especially for the time, being built off classics like Halloween and using similar shooting styles.. The creator of this film was trying to impress upon viewers the importance of special responsibility, personal morality, and increasing expansion between society’s view of charity, hope,goodwill towards men, and the plight of those left outside of society. This movie was also called “Better Watch Out” and “Terror in Toyland.” While reviews are mixed, it is well worth the watch for its shooting and editing style. It may leave you understanding the motives of the main character.
3. Better Watch Out (2016)
From a long line of babysitter movies comes Better Watch Out. Enter Ashley, the babysitter that is working on last job for the Learners before she leaves for college. Luke Learner has a crush on her and wants to make it known before she leaves. What Ashley doesn’t know is that this final job will leave her defending Luke and the house from a strange home invasion. The script of this movie leaves a little to be desired, as it panders to a great many stereotypes but it is beautifully shot. You often find yourself cringing and laughing at the same time. If you love movies with a twist, then this movie is for you. Best of all, this movie gives the best gift of the holiday season… REVENGE!
This is a favorite movie of my boyfriend, so it is a given that I included it in this list. I will say I enjoyed it much more than I thought that I would. It even has a great twist.
2. Black Christmas (1974)
A bit of trivia about this movie, it was directed by Bob Clark. Oh wait, that name doesn’t ring a bell? How about if I told you that he was the director of a wildly famous “other”Christmas movie – A Christmas Story? He directed this horror movie first, but don’t come to it expecting any similarities or you may “shoot your eye out.”
This could be one of the first horror movies to involve a sorority and the holiday. The movie opens to the holidays coming to this small college and the sorority girls of Pi Kappa Sigma are preparing for their departure by having a small house get together. Suddenly, the phone rings and we are treated to an obscene phone call. For many of you, you may have never experienced one – thanks to caller ID. We find out that they have been receiving similar calls for a few days. As the party plays out, we witness someone breaking into the house and killing the pure of heart character who has decided to go to bed. Throughout this movie we never see the face of the killer. Just their ominous presence through shadows, angles of feet, and the occasional eye. Tensions build in the house as they find out one of their sisters has gone missing. More calls are received and the movie escalates. The police work with the sisters of the house to try to catch the person making the prank calls. Murders escalate. As we reach the end of the film, we still do not know who the killer is or what drives them to their murderous machinations.
This movie received much negative press at its original release but has gone on to become a seminal holiday horror cult classic. Be sure to put it under your tree this festive season.
1. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)
“He knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you’re awake. So, you better be good for goodness sake,” should be the motto for this movie. Rare Exports is defined as a Finnish fantasy, action, horror film and definitely gives you a darker spin on the Holiday origins and Santa Claus. This movie takes place in a small village near the Lapland mountain of Korvatunturi. The villages depend on the yearly reindeer migrations to fund them for the rest of the year, but this year something has caused the herd to go missing. On the nearby fell (mountain), a British research team is taking core samples on top of Korvatunturi and appears to wake an ancient legend. Other strange events start happening in the village near the mountain and lead a young boy, Pietari, to start believing it may be Santa Claus watching over them. As children start disappearing, the villagers decide to confront the research team to see what’s going on. What the find on the mountain top is immensely different than what they expected. This is a slow but fun romp of a movie but be ready to read subtitles for some of it. Also, this movie gives you insight on why there are so many Santa’s. From bell ringers to mall Santas, you will never look at them the same way again.
Grab your milk ‘n cookies
If you’re tired of all the Christmas holiday favorites, maybe these Top Ten Christmas Horror Movies can help break your December Doldrums. Be sure to keep the fire roaring and the lights down low as you take in the holiday chills and thrills of these ten movies direct from Santa’s Slay.