Gather round the Christmas tree, boys and girls! Regular contributor Spencer Mitchell is back, this time with a bag full of some of the best holiday horror movies to come down the chimney. Ho Ho Ho and all that claptrap!
Top Naughty & Not So Nice Horror Films for the Holidays
The “feel good” cheery holidays, like Christmas, are upon us and if you’re like me you enjoy the sugary sweetness for the first week or two, and then you’re itching for something a little more… menacing. Sure, the holidays are a time of joy, but it can also bring some sadness for horror fans – after all, the Halloween terror was so abruptly taken away with the arrival of November and yuletide cheer.
But thankfully there’s a special little genre set aside for this time of year. For all you horror fans who’re looking for year round terror and blood, check out this short list of the best scary holiday movies and embrace the season of Santa (which is oddly close to Satan ~Hunter)
Black Christmas (1974)
Home invasion movies are always the scariest; we’re supposed to feel safe in our own homes, and when we see that level of comfort invaded it makes us second guess our own safety. So, when a sorority house is terrorized by creepy perverted phone calls, in classic slasher fashion, the police turn out to assist them. But the true terror of Black Christmas begins when a young girl’s father, played by James Edmond, visits the campus when his daughter turns up missing along with a little high schooler who is found dead in the park nearby. Jessica (Olivia Hussey), the girl’s friend, must fight for her life and her friends’ when the attacker comes after her. Things are not always as they seem, and the bodies pile high in this holiday horror film (on Netflix) as killers are misidentified and safety is nowhere in sight.
Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
When his parents are murdered by Santa Claus, Billy (Robert Wilson) is forever haunted by the memories of Christmas past. Sent to an orphanage where he’s abused by the head nun and cared for by Sister Margaret (Gilmer McCormick), kindred spirits who seem to find themselves scolded frequently. When he turns 18 he leaves, desperate for a normal life, but Christmas rears its ugly head when he’s forced, by his employer, to put on a Santa suit and dress up for the children. He snaps and goes on a killer rampage leaving a trail of bodies back to the orphanage for revenge in true Michael Myers style. Followed up by a slew of sequels and a loose remake years later, none quite match the gruesome terror of the original bad Santa.
Many seem to forget that Gremlins is technically a Christmas movie. After all, it’s around Christmas when Billy, played by Zach Galligan, gets the strange furry creature called a Mogwai as a gift. While seemingly cute and adorable at first, these things quickly multiply and run wild. They drink and gamble and even flash the bartender throughout their rampage. Having Gremlins around is a lot like being terrorized by your pet or stuffed animals, but the scene where Lynn Peltzer (Frances McCain) kills a few gremlins with various household objects is amusingly akin to the typical panic of slasher films. The story continued in Gremlins 2: The New Batch (streaming info here) where the gremlin army threatens New York City, and there are rumors the third sequel could even feature a Godzilla-sized gremlin making the jump over to terrorize Europe.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
This movie’s not as scary if you only take it for face value. The true terror lies in the imaginative story Tim Burton brings to the film. What’s more horrifying than having the most joyous holiday of the year hijacked by the nightmarish creatures of Halloween or having your toys attack you? Jack Skellington (Chris Sarandon), bored with his role as the Pumpkin King, becomes intrigued and inspired by Christmas’ strange customs and leader, Sandy Claws. So, he decides to take on Christmas himself. After kidnapping Sandy Claws and throwing him into the merciless hands of Oogie Boogie (Ken Page) Jack begins his sleigh ride. However, he soon realizes he should’ve stuck to his own holiday when he becomes sorely unwelcome. With amazing musical tracks The Nightmare Before Christmas is a true classic, family-friendly, and suitable for both Christmas and Halloween!
Jack Frost (1997)
Starting off simple, yet still a tad gruesome, Jack Frost is full of ridiculous death scenes and simpleminded humor. It’s very reminiscent of old slasher films in that regard. Scott MacDonald plays the murderous Jack Frost, an inmate who, while on the way to his execution, narrowly escapes a car accident, only to be mutated and turned into a snowman. With a second chance to exact his revenge, Frost goes after the one who locked him up, Sam Tiler (Christopher Allport), the sheriff of the small fictional town. Tiler must team up with arrogant FBI agents to take down Frost – with a little creative use of antifreeze!
So, there you have it: five holiday horror movies to hopefully get those carols out of your head, at least for a little while. Who says Christmas is a time for only joyous, mushy, feelings? It’s great to see this little genre getting recognition as the years go on – especially with Krampus, based on the folklore of Santa’s murderous helper, coming to theaters in December. It’s sure to leave a lasting impression on the kids.