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We Wish You a Scary Christmas: Christmas Horror Movies


'Tis the season to be...gory? If this time of year makes you reflect on how much you enjoy seeing people killed in nasty ways, then those psychiatrist appointments aren't really doing any good, are they? But far be it from me to call you crazy. I mean, I wouldn't want you jabbing any sharp objects in my eye or anything, so here's a list of movies that might appease your holiday bloodlust.

Tales From the Crypt [Movie] (1972)

© 20th Century Fox
This classic British anthology features the original killer Santa in the segment "And All Through the House." The story opens on Christmas Eve with a woman (Joan Collins) delivering a not-so-seasonal greeting to her husband via a fireplace poker to the skull. As she's trying to dispose of the body, an escaped homicidal maniac dressed as Santa Claus tries to break into the house. Trouble is, she can't call the cops because of the whole dead husband thing. Bloody brilliant!

Black Christmas (1974)

© Eclectic DVD Distribution
A groundbreaking early slasher, Black Christmas finds a sadistic killer making threatening phone calls from -- you guessed it -- INSIDE THE HOUSE. And a sorority house at that. Still terrifying to this day, it makes Christmas the creepiest holiday this side of Guy Fawkes Night.

Silent Night, Bloody Night (1974)

© Diamond Entertainment
It's not really Christmas-centric, but this film has a mysterious figure taking revenge for something that happened on Christmas Eve 40 years prior. Even after the killer is revealed, the convoluted plot might have you wondering what happened, but Silent Night, Bloody Night is still an atmospheric, giallo-like mystery that anticipates the 1980s slasher revolution.

Night Train Murders (1975)

© Blue Underground
If you found the controversial Last House on the Left too lighthearted and family-friendly, try this Italian rip-off on for size. Heading home for Christmas vacation, two female college students are cornered on a train and brutalized, but the culprits get their comeuppance when they inadvertently meet one of the girls' fathers. Awkward!

Christmas Evil (1980)

© Synapse Films
Now here's a killer Santa who's actually sympathetic. You see, Harry loves Christmas. He loves it so much that he dresses as Santa and keeps track of who's naughty and who's nice. If you're naughty, you run the risk of having your eye gouged out, but other than that, Harry's not such a bad guy; certainly not "evil." As silly as it sounds, Christmas Evil is actually an in-depth character study into an off-kilter mind, sort of like the moments in When a Stranger Calls when the stranger isn't calling.

Don't Open Till Christmas (1984)

© Televista
In this holiday slasher, the killer isn't Santa; he's killing Santas. The fact that it's British makes it seem less sleazy than it is.

Gremlins (1984)

© Warner Home Video
Long before people started giving those obnoxious Furbies as Christmas gifts, Randall Peltzer gave his son Billy (Zach Galligan) a cute little mogwai in the hit horror-comedy Gremlins. Too bad Billy not only gets it wet, but he also feeds it after midnight, breaking two of the cardinal rules of taking care of mogwai. (The third rule is you do NOT talk about club.)

Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

© Starz/Anchor Bay
The most notorious of the killer Santa movies, Silent Night, Deadly Night is actually nothing special as far as slashers go. It just came along at the wrong time and felt the brunt of a slasher-weary protest movement that didn't want to see a guy dressed as a Santa killing people. Go figure.

Child's Play (1988)

Like Gremlins, Child's Play revolves around a Christmas present gone awry. Unlike a mogwai, though, the Chucky doll in Child's Play doesn't need to be fed after midnight to turn evil. He doesn't even need batteries.

Tales From the Crypt [TV Show] (1989)

© Warner Home Video
The first season of HBO's Tales From the Crypt TV show presented a gleefully over-the-top, almost slapstick remake of "And All Through the House," directed by Back to the Future's Robert Zemeckis. This time, Larry Drake plays a much more intimidating, grotesque killer who speaks, cackles and, most importantly, carries an axe.
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