In this series, we’ve already been to extremely cold places (with the BEST Chilling Horror Movies) and we’ve had quite a laugh (with the BEST Trashy Christmas Horrors). Now, it’s time to wrap up these specials (for this year…) with my 10 Favourite Christmas Horror Movies.
Quick and obvious disclaimer: the word “favourite” doesn’t equal to the word “best”. I purposefully avoided the word “best” in the title of this article because I want to make clear this list is based on my opinion and my enjoyment for the films listed below. Sure, it’s quite hard to argue these aren’t good movies, but they’re not necessarily the best Christmas-related horror films ever made.
To put it simply, these are great Christmas horror movies that I enjoy watching pretty much every year, around this time. If you haven’t seen one or more of them, please do yourself a favour and check them out before Christmas, you won’t regret it! Here are my 10 Favourite Christmas Horror Movies, listed in alphabetical order.
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Black Christmas (Canada, 1974, 98 mins) – A movie with not one, but two remakes on its resume doesn’t need any introduction. Black Christmas is THE Christmas-related horror movie, period. This Canadian picture is, at its core, just an early example of slasher film. However, this movie about a group of sorority girls stalked (and tortured) by a stranger is more influential than you might think. From harassing phone calls to the killer’s POV to lines like “the call is coming from inside the house!”, Black Christmas truly paved the way to some of the slasher clichés we all love. This is a movie I love to watch every year because it gives off some genuinely creepy vibes, it features great and inventive camera work, it relies on characters that are likeable for the most part. Anyway, you’ll read more from me about this classic once the Blumhouse remake comes out…
The Children (UK, 2008, 84 mins) – Although I usually get very annoyed at child actors, this film about killer kids turning against the adults really works for me. The Children revolves around a Christmas vacation that goes horribly wrong when the children become infected and turn against their parents. Simple set-up, great and fun execution! What I really love about The Children is the contrast between the build-up (slow but fundamental to understand the characters) and what follows, which is some seriously gory and scary stuff. The filmmakers did a great job at making the kids actually threatening, and they didn’t hold back on the violence and gore. If you’re looking for a Christmas horror film where the child actors don’t ruin the experience – quite the opposite, they improve it – The Children should be your pick!
Christmas Evil (USA, 1980, 100 mins) – I reviewed this film already, when I explained that, despite being released in the heydays of the slasher genre, it’s not a slasher flick in the traditional sense; it’s more of a character study. The character in question is Harry (perfectly portrayed by Brendon Maggart) who, as a kid, witnessed his dad having sex with his mom while he was dressed up as Santa Claus. That experience messed him, therefore as an adult he believes to be the real Santa Claus: as such, he gives presents to nice kids, but punishes the naughty ones… in a very bloody, mean-spirited way! This film has a slow pace, but the merciless approach of the movie in combination with a multifaceted villain makes this quite a unique watch, a psychological thriller that seems ahead of its time.
The Day of The Beast (Spain, 1995, 103 mins) – Had I decided to make this a bottom-up list, The Day of the Beast would be very near the top. This Italian-Spanish co-production is an action-comedy-horror about a Catholic priest teaming up with a Black Metal aficionado and an Italian connoisseur of the occult to avert the birth of the beast, and with it, the end of the world. Sometimes funny as hell, sometimes gory and brutal, sometimes profound in its social and religious commentary, sometimes heavily satirical, The Day of the Beast truly succeeds at mixing different tones and genres without feeling jarring. It’s a great watch, whether you decide to give it a chance on Christmas or any other time of the year!
Dead of Night (UK, 1945, 103 mins) – If you like horror anthologies, Dead of Night is guaranteed to please you. In the movie, architect Walter Craig wakes up after a terrible nightmare, which leads his wife to suggest to him that he spend a weekend in the country. Craig has been invited by Elliot Foley to his country home but, upon arrival at the cottage, he reveals to Foley and his assembled guests that despite never having met any of them, he has seen them all in a recurring dream. The other guests attempt to test Craig’s foresight and set him at ease, while entertaining each other with various tales of uncanny or supernatural events that they experienced or were told about. Let me tell you, despite being 74 for years old, the segment about the ventriloquist is pure nightmare fuel! In fact, each of the short movies is really creepy and atmospheric, resulting into a solid horror anthology all-around. On top of that, the wrap-around story features an unforgettable plot twist, one that will leave you both shocked and surprised. I really love Dead of Night and I think you should check it out!
Gremlins (USA, 1984, 106 mins) – Another movie that needs no introduction is Gremlins, a masterpiece of fantasy/horror, suitable for the whole family. I recently discovered that Gremlins was the very first horror film I’ve ever seen, when I was six years old. Perhaps, that’s why I love it so much! This film by Joe Dante features a sweet and creative storyline, adorable characters (Gizmo is the cutest!), ground-breaking animatronics and surprisingly high stakes. Gremlins truly is one of my all-time favourite motion pictures, and what I mostly appreciate about it is how timeless it feels. The fairy-tale approach, in combination with mind-blowing practical effects, makes this film look both nostalgic and modern at the same time. If you’re one of the very few people on the planet who hasn’t seen Gremlins, do yourself a favour and check it out by this Christmas.
Krampus (USA, 2015, 98 mins) – This exhilarating horror-comedy is undoubtedly a fan-favourite, but it was initially panned by critics. Why? I honesty can’t tell… As you already know, Krampus revolves around a family Christmas dinner being interrupted by the arrival of a murderous festive demon (Krampus, of course), accidentally summoned by a boy who’s tired of having Christmas ruined by the shitty part of his family. As I said in my original review of Krampus, this films stands out amongst countless money-grabbing Christmas parody due to many factors: great acting and solid character-development, fantastic special effects (both CG and practical), wonderful mix of comedy and horror, obvious but entertaining satire of consumerism. Despite its divisive ending – and the way the ending was changed to achieve a PG-13 rating – I feel comfortable to recommend Krampus to all kinds of horror fanatics.
Sheitan (France, 2006, 93 mins) – Not often listed as a Christmas horror film, Sheitan takes place on Christmas Eve so, to me, it’s a great watch around the festive time. As I stated in my review of this movie, Sheitan is often considered as part of the “new wave of French extreme horror”. However, to me it’s much more accessible than the other titles in this “movement” . Gore and distasteful sexual humour might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but this movie has a lot more going on for it. The acting is great (Vincent Cassel steals the show), the plot features an amazing twist, the setting is fun and eerie at the same time. If you’re looking for a more original king of Christmas horror movie, this is the one to pick!
Sint (Netherlands, 2010, 85 mins) – This is the only movie on this list that doesn’t really take place on Christmas, since it depicts St. Nicholas as a murderous bishop who kidnaps and murders children when there is a full moon on December 5. Based on Dutch and Nordic folklore, this film is very gory and violent, showing kids being slaughtered left and right. Don’t worry, though: it’s more entertaining than it is disturbing. In fact, Sint is also filled with comedic moments – borderline slapstick, by the way – that definitely lighten the whole experience. Despite the low budget, this film relies on some outstanding special effects. Overall, Sint is just an exciting, gory watch for fans of the genre.
Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? (UK, 1971, 91 mins) – Released both in black and white and in colour, this is a twisted version of the classic Hansel and Gretel tale (which is pretty twisted to begin with, when you think about it). Over the Christmas holidays, a demented woman lures kids into her house and then… well, that’s for you to find out. Set in the 20s, with a noir style mixed with an early slasher atmosphere, this movie benefits from great acting, a nostalgic look-and-feel and an overall dreadful feel that makes it quite an uncomfortable watch. However, there’s an uplifting side to the story, based on friendship and the Christmas spirit. If you like 70s cinema like I do, Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? should go on your watchlist straight away!
These are my favourite Christmas-themed horror movies. Like I said at the beginning, I’m not claiming these films are objectively the best ever made for the Christmas holiday, but just 10 great pictures I very much adore. What about you? What’s your top 10 Christmas-related horror movies? Let me know in the comments and have a wonderful Christmas!
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