Christmas is a time for families to get together. And where there are families there are fights. And where there are fights there is bloodshed. Perhaps that is why Christmas and Horror are natural partners in some films. There have been some great, and not so great, movies that find ways to shoehorn the festive season into their frights. Since it’s 2020 and all maybe these films should be seen as a warning to what may be in store this Christmas…
Here are ten of the weirdest, scariest, and best holiday horror movies ever made.
Christmas as we celebrate it today is a mash up of many different cultural phenomena. Not every Christmas character has made the cut however. Krampus, an Austrian/German monster from folklore, generally does not feature in most people’s idea of a perfect Christmas. Krampus is a terrifying figure with horns, the legs of a goat, and a bundle of birch sticks that he beats bad children with. The very worst children he bundles up into a basket and carries off to Hell.
In 2015’s Krampus this punisher of naughty kids comes to town just as one family gathers to celebrate Christmas. While a snowstorm traps the family together for longer than they intended (a real horror for most families) Krampus begins to invade the house. Not every present left under the tree is a treat.
9 Home Alone
Home Alone is one of the greatest modern classic Christmas films. It is a relatively gentle comedy – at least if you a child watching it. If you happen to see the film as an adult though it is a straight up horror.
The film is centred on adorable child/sociopathic monster Kevin being left home alone over Christmas. He precedes to set up various traps to keep out a pair of bungling burglars. In the course of one evening he shoots them, drops heavy objects on them, burns them, has them walk on broken glass, and sends them slipping down icy steps.
In real life Kevin would have killed the burglars several times over. Kevin is a filthy animal and one child who should never be left alone with vulnerable people.
8 Await Further Instructions
While most people find Christmas an annual delight some people will feel nothing by terror at the idea of returning to their childhood home. In ‘Await Further Instructions’ one man is returning to his family with his girlfriend. Since he has a racist grandfather waiting for him and his girlfriend is not white you can imagine how things are going to turn out.
Except no one can foresee an outside force physically trapping everyone together for days on end. Unable to escape and with cryptic messages being beamed in via the television the family begins to slowly unravel. Dry turkey is the least of their worries.
7 Dead End
If Christmas together with the family can be hell then a long Christmas drive with the family is the quickest route there. And the second anyone mentions a short-cut you know things are about to get tense and you are about to get lost.
In Dead End one quick shortcut sees a family lost on Christmas Eve in a deep, dark wood. When they charitably stop to pick up a woman and her baby things begin to get creepy. Then things get bloody.
Before you buy someone an animal remember a pet is for life, not just for Christmas. If you give someone a Gremlin then the rest of your life might not be that long.
In Gremlins a cute and cuddly little critter called a mogwai creates all manner of havoc. If the mogwai, called Gizmo, happens to get wet then it will spawn more mogwai. And if a mogwai eats after midnght then it will transform into one of the titular Gremlins. Guess what happens to Gizmo? He gets wet, and his spawned mogai have a midnight feat. The resulting green and monstrous Gremlins begin to tear the town apart.
The sequel to Gremlins is one of the wildest films produced in the late 80s. No idea was seemingly too mad. Vegetable gremlins, bat gremlins, lightning gremlins, and oddly sexualised lady gremlins all make an appearance.
5 Jack Frost
Be careful what you ask Santa for. If you ask him to get you a film called Jack Frost you have to be very specific. He might bring you the heart warming 1998 film starring Michael Keaton or he might bring you the 1997 Jack Frost about a murderous snowman.
The horror Jack Frost film sees a truck carrying a serial killer, the appropriately named Jack Frost, on his way to execution colliding with a truck carrying “genetic material” in the middle of a snow storm. As any scientist will tell you this is the easiest way for a human body to be converted to snow.
No one is safe from this abominable snowman as he attacks his victims in bathtubs and under Christmas trees.
4 Rare Exports
If you find a giant mound of ice has been built over several centuries specifically to keep something trapped inside then it is probably not a good idea to blow it up with dynamite. That is the moral at the heart of Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale.
When researchers begin explosively exploring a location in remote Lapland they soon uncover more than they expected. While the company digging on the hill are all killed when something escapes its icy prison local farmers are a little luckier. In their wolf traps they capture a strange old man. An old man who looks a lot like Santa Claus…
Safe to say that the creatures that are awoken are not ones you would like to find sliding down your chimney on any night of the year.
3 Silent Night, Deadly Night
Normally people are not very welcoming of stranger who break into their house in the dead of night – even if they do claim to be bringing gifts. Santa Claus however gets a free pass and is often left out a meal of cookies and milk. Sometimes however it is not Jolly Saint Nick who comes to town.
In Silent Night, Deadly Night we meet someone with a red and white costume and large beard who enters people’s homes at night. But instead of gifts he brings a deadly sharp axe.
The movie starts with a family being murdered by Father Christmas and only gets jollier from there. Let’s just say that this Santa judges more people to be naughty than nice.
2 The Children
Children are the absolute best people to spend Christmas with. Their infectious love of presents and endless energy can make even the grumpiest Scrooge love the holidays. Leave it to a horror film therefore to ruin even their innocence.
In The Children a family sets out to enjoy a snowy holiday in the countryside with traditional games like sledding. While the adults have a fine time drinking wine and doing drugs the children all begin to succumb to an illness. And this is not just the holiday sniffles. Any child who gets infected begins to plot the murder of any adult nearby.
As the trailer says “You brought them into the world. They will take you out.” Bah Humbug.
1 Better Watch Out
Big American houses always look great in Christmas films as huge families gather together to celebrate the season. Big American homes also look good in horror films because they give the bad guys somewhere to hide.
When a masked intruder begins stalking a babysitter and her charge through their home at Christmas the grand house soon begins to look rather grim. But as the title of the film suggests it’s not always the obvious person that you have to watch out for.
This is one film to watch if you want a more realistic take on the horror of Home Alone. To ‘home alone’ someone is not a verb you will want to use.