The Halloween season seems tailor-made for horror fans. Their favorite movies are on the air and there is spooky decor all around. However, Christmas time is the polar opposite, being joyful and merry with bright colors all over the place. That’s not to say horror fans can’t love the holidays, I’m a huge horror hound and Christmas is my favorite time of year. But there is a certain itch for horror fans that traditional Christmas movies can’t quite satisfy. I’ve compiled a list of movies that are still holiday feeling movies, but give horror fans the pick me up they need.
1) Silent Night, Deadly Night
This movie is one of the best known so bad its good flicks, and it is perfect for Christmas time viewing. In a traditional sense, this is not a good movie. It hits every single wrong note imaginable, but it misses the mark so perfectly it is hard not to love it. The film follows Billy, a terribly disturbed individual who kills those he believes to be naughty, all while dressed as Santa. This movie understandably attracted controversy upon release and has gained a massive cult following. The film spawned a franchise, with the sequel being just as enjoyable as the first. The movie got a remake in 2012 and is due to be rebooted again next year.
2) Santa’s Slay
There is a joke in Ernest Saves Christmas involving a Christmas horror movie with a punny title, with the director stating “Not Sleigh, Slay!” What many may not know is that there is a very real horror movie with that same punny title. Santa’s Slay doesn’t have a killer dressed as Santa, it has the man himself going on a killing spree. WWE champ Goldberg plays a very evil Santa who has served his time as a holly jolly symbol of happiness and is free to be his true self. The movie is great because it doesn’t take itself seriously. It is a fun, holiday-themed goofy time as long as horror fans take it for what it is.
3) Black Christmas
Switching gears from laughable scary holiday movies, here is one that is good, and genuinely chilling. Black Christmas is more than just a holiday-based horror movie, it is a groundbreaking movie that helped lay the groundwork for the slasher genre. The movie takes place in a sorority, whose sisters are being hunted by a killer known only as Billy. Billy was the precursor to characters such as Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees and is just as scary as them. The movie has had several retellings, but none are as effective as the original classic. Funnily enough, Black Christmas’ director Bob Clark went on to direct the classic A Christmas Story. Play them back to back for a nice Christmas double feature.
Here is a movie that is more recent than others on the list, but just as worthy of Christmas viewing. There are more than a few movies about the Anti-Santa, Krampus, but the 2015 movie of the same name is the crowning achievement. Krampus has been called one of the most unique and enjoyable horror films in recent years, which is no small feat. the movie follows a family who has lost their Christmas spirit, and an evil creature who intends to show them the error of their ways. The movie doesn’t take itself extremely seriously, yet it doesn’t lean too much into comedy either. Krampus earns more and more horror fans every year, and it is on the fast track to becoming a holiday classic.
While not technically a horror movie, Gremlins has just enough carnage and creature-based mayhem to make the list. Unlike Die Hard, Gremlins is undeniably a holiday movie, and it finds its way into homes every year around this time. Blood-hungry little creatures aside, the movie just has a great Christmas atmosphere. Christmas songs are scattered throughout, it is snowing constantly, and decorations adorn nearly every set. The horror itch is more than scratched with the titular creatures. If a Gremlin being nuked in a microwave isn’t enough to satisfy you, then nothing will.
6) Nightmare Before Christmas
There is little that can be said about Nightmare Before Christmas that hasn’t been said time and time again. It is a masterpiece, plain and simple. There are few holiday movies that can be played at Halloween and Christmas and perfectly fit the tones of both holidays. The movie follows Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, as he discovers the magical world of Christmas. Jack wants to spread his own brand of holiday cheer and does it in a way that is masterfully spooky. Besides the constant Halloween imagery, the movie is still very much Christmas-y and even has an excellent message about adopting other cultures and diversity.
7) Jack Frost
While the thought of a snowman possessed by Michael Keaton can be scary, this isn’t the movie being mentioned. This movie came out a year earlier in 1997 and is as ridiculous as a movie about a killer snowman can be. The movie is about a serial killer named Jack Frost who possesses a snowman. Shenanigans ensue. This is a movie that has to be seen to be believed. It is gory, sleazy, and absolutely absurd. The titular snowman looks silly, which just adds to the mayhem. Admittedly the movie is played for laughs, but that fact doesn’t save it from entering the same territory as Troll 2.
8) Gingerdead Man
Nothing says Christmas like a killer gingerbread man voiced by Gary Busey. This timeless family classic follows a killer named Millard Findlemeyer who, what else, possesses a gingerbread man and wrecks havoc. This premise alone should sell anyone on this movie. You can’t help but love the fact this thing even exists. It is just as ridiculous as it sounds, and comes highly recommended. It is a blast when viewed under the right circumstances. Horror fans should be warned that this movie is best enjoyed as all Christmas movies should be. By an open fire, with a cup of hot chocolate, and their brains checked at the door as thinking really shouldn’t be part of this viewing.
9) Anna & The Apocalypse
Anna & The Apocalypse is a Christmas musical set against the backdrop of a zombie apocalypse. While it’s not West Side Story, this movie still deserves more recognition. The music is catchy, the zombie effects are solid, and it’s just an overall fun movie. The movie even takes place in a cliched sleepy town that is in so many Christmas movies. Anna & The Apocalypse came out in 2017 and has developed a steady cult following. I feel the movie needs more attention, and Christmas is the perfect time for horror fans to check it out.
10) The Thing
While technically not a Christmas movie, John Carpenter’s The Thing is still perfect holiday viewing. The movie follows a group of scientists as their Antarctic base is taken over by a shapeshifting alien. The movie just has a cold feel to it, as the entire thing takes place in the Antarctic. The Thing has some spectacular special effects and manages to still be scary today. Oddly enough, the movie was a huge flop upon its original release. It may not have the traditional Christmas feel, but it is still perfect for this time of year. It is recommended to watch it in between Rudolph and The Santa Clause for maximum effect.