Christmas Horror Films


Written by Jack Sharp
05 Monday 05th December 2011

With Christmas fast approaching, chances are you’re going to watch a Christmas movie in the next few weeks, no doubt with a warm, feel-good message at the end. But what if you choose to subscribe to an alternative Christmas message -- one of terror, gore and gratuitous boobtography?

Perhaps, like me, you believe that Christmas is a season best spent watching people be killed in increasingly horrific ways, while you sit in a cold, dank basement eating semi-defrosted ready meals out of a metal bucket. That’s normal, right? Please tell me I’m normal.

Well, if you’re after some Christmas horror this December, then you’re in luck, because there are a ton of creepy yuletide movies out there, from the tame (Gremlins) to the sleazy (Don’t Open Till Christmas), to the mind-numbingly awful (Satan Claus).

One of my personal favourite Christmas horror scenes, and one I like to kick the Christmas season off with, is from the 1972 movie Tales From the Crypt. The scene is based on a story from the classic ‘50s horror comic series Vault of Horror, and was later retold as an episode of the classic HBO show Tales From the Crypt in the early 1990s.

It’s a story that’s been told countless times: an insane killer dresses up as Santa and causes carnage. The classic horror movie Black Christmas used the set-up just a few years after Tales From the Crypt was released, and was then later rehashed as the notorious slasher film Silent Night, Deadly Night, which gave birth to a whole host of unintentionally hilarious sequels.

The original film was protested upon its release, and famously named and shamed by film critics Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel, who described it as “sick, sleazy and mean-spirited”. Today, however, Silent Night, Deadly Night has a strong cult following amongst many horror fans and seems strangely tame by today’s standards.

Some may have heard of the series due to the popularity of the internet meme “Garbage Day”, taken from a scene from the awful second instalment of the series in which the main character, Ricky, yells “GARBAGE DAY!” before mercilessly shooting a poor, unsuspecting man who’s putting out his rubbish.

But the fifth film of the series, Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker is where the series plumbed its lowest depths. Starring Micky Rooney, who angrily protested the release of the first Silent Night, Deadly Night, the film tells the story of Derek Quinn, a spooky young boy with no definable characteristics other than his irrepressible creepiness.

In the opening scene of the film Quinn is shown watching his parents fornicate, safely observing from an open door as if what he’s witnessing isn’t going to psychologically disturb him for years to come.

Rooney appears as the seemingly jolly toyshop owner Joe Petto. I wont spoil the ending of the movie, but I will show you this image, taken from the moment that Pino -- Joe Petto’s weird Dickensian street punk son -- reveals that he is in fact a toy, exposing his shiny, penis-less plastic groin as the proof that nobody asked for.

Understandably, Petto couldn’t get to grips with the robotics required to build a robotic penis.

If rampaging Santas aren’t really your thing, then how about killer snowmen like the one in the 1997 movie Jack Frost? Not to be confused with the 1998 family film of the same name, of course -- the one about a small child’s dead dad, who comes back to life as a grotesque talking snowman.

The 1997 horror version of Jack Frost is similarly terrifying, however. Due to the fact that the snowman doesn’t have fully operational limbs, it spends much of its screen time awkwardly shimmying along the ground. It’s essentially two giant snowballs mounted on top of each other, with a carrot sticking out. Still, that doesn’t stop it from clumsily terrorising, killing and even raping his victims.

As ridiculous as that may be, there is at least one horror film that dares to go even further. The movie Elves tells the story of elves that have been selectively bred by Nazis. When a young girl and her two friends find themselves trapped in a department store with one of them, only a maverick in-store Santa can save them!

That’s right, this particular department store Santa is a loose cannon. He doesn’t play by the rules, even when Nazi elves are involved. By day he dons a Santa suit to entertain small children, and by night he wrecks twenty cars in a high-speed Nazi elf pursuit.

Notable Mentions:

- Silent Night, Bloody Night – Produced by Troma co-founder Lloyd Kauffman, Silent Night, Bloody Night It tells the story of a man who inherits a mansion, which was once a mental home. Although filmed in 1972, it was eventually released in 1974 and is sometimes known as Night of the Dark Full Moon. Over the years, the film has fallen into obscurity, and is now listed as public domain. Despite this, however, the film is considered a classic by many horror fans.

- Christmas Evil – Predating Silent Night, Deadly Night by several years, Christmas Evil (AKA You Better Watch Out) tells the story of a little boy who becomes obsessed with Santa after watching him (actually his father dressed up) performing sexual acts on his mother one Christmas. Now an adult, he keeps a naughty list and punishes those who have been bad.

Like the previous film, Christmas Evil is listed as Public Domain and can be watched legally online.

- Jack Frost 2: Revenge of a Killer Mutant Snowman – A hilarious Jack Frost sequel that frankly has to be seen to be believed. 

- To All A Good Night – Pretty awful Black Christmas wannabe that’s set in a sorority house during Christmas. Notable solely due to the fact that one of the characters looks like an inebriated Rod Stewart.

- This promotional image for the film The Most Wonderful Time of the Year in which Henry Winkler (yes, Fonzie) is seen riding a child’s bike.

- This hideous robotic Santa at Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park.

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