Yuletide bleedings! We all know the Christmas season can be taxing on your peace: your nephew is having a Leave Britney Alone level shit-fit ‘cause you got him the wrong Yu-Gi-Oh, Uncle Ed’s griping about his fuckin’ lumbar nonstop, and Auntie Cynthia won’t leave you alone about why you don’t have kids yet (I have broken cum, Cynthia! Is that what you want to hear? Enjoy the froth on that London fog.) Sometimes you just need to get away from that action, trade in the humdrum for some humbug and watch motherfuckers kill people on TV for a few hours. No, I’m not talking about the NFL, I’m taking about Christmas horror movies! And so I’ve compiled 10 Christmas Horror Movies To Watch Over the Holidays!
This jolly list is sure to put tinsel on your tits: some so-bad-it’s-good, some legit and a few wild cards. Though I love Antichristmas stalwarts like Gremlins and the O.G. Black Christmas, this list features lesser-known titles you can bring to your group of plucky Xmas defectors. No one wants to be the geek going, “Oh you like horror fillums? Let’s watch Nightmare Before Christmas!” That person needs to be hogtied with tree lights and basted with hot ham grease like there’s no Boxing Day.
1. Red Snow (2021)
Christmassyness: like a conversation you’re having about fishing and the other person goes, “hey isn’t it Christmas next week?” and you go, “Oh yeah. Anyway, about these sturgeon…”
What if I told you there was a movie that did for snow-vampires what Dead Snow did for snow-zombies? And what if you watched said movie and got really mad at me because there were only 3 vampires in the whole thing and it clearly cost a fraction of what Dead Snow cost to make and none of the vampires could act? And what then if I told you that you can’t get mad at a guy whose sperm is so broken it comes out tail-first? This is that movie.
A broke, aspiring Anne Rice type (the bangs are NOTICEABLE) is alone for Christmas when she traps an ailing vampire in her garage. She forges a friendship with him as she nurses him back to health in exchange for his life experience, which she puts towards rewriting her new vamp novel. Red Snow has one foot planted in so-bad-it’s-good territory, but it’s so bonkers, charming and self-aware that you can’t help but proudly shake your head and go, “You did it, you goddamn sonsofbitches: you and your 85-dollar budget made me care what happens to Ol’ Bangs-Head.”
Film’s Gift: what’s the opposite of a full frontal? Anyways, there’s a “full rear-al” shot where the main vampire guy reveals the shortest butt-crack this side of a Ken doll. You could’t squeeze a Tic-Tac between those cheeks (though I’m sure the breath refreshment would be welcome).
2. Wind Chill (2007)
Christmassyness: about as Christmassy as a jack-o-latern filled with Easter eggs on Yom Kippur.
It’s hard to pull off Christmas horror movies without them becoming a goofy comedy affair where the main characters wind up dressed as elves, fending off homicidal reindeer with sharpened candy canes and scalding zombie gingerbread men (or zombie gingerbread womyn!) with egg nog lava. That’s why I admire this film’s approach to Christmas movie qualification: mention Christmas once in the opening scene and boom – Christmas horror movie. If Die Hard is a Christmas movie, then this counts too! And so is that home video I have of my hammered dad singing Jingle Bells on the 4th of July right before he pissed in the hibachi.
This film puts Emily Blunt (of Emily Blunt fame) in the jalopy passenger seat of a ride-share driven by a fellow college student who’s supposed to be a nerdy-ass creepazoid, but he’s like this handsome creepazoid they tried to nerd up by giving him those oily matted down emo bangs that make it look like you passed out with your forehead pressed against Hulk Hogan’s chest. Their ride home to Delaware for the holidays goes screwy after the driver takes some questionable backroads and reveals to know a bit too much about Blunt’s personal life. Wind Chill features a few jumps and creeps that are par for the course for its time and is firmly planted in the horror genre.
Film’s Gift: the takeaway is pretty much “stalking is okay as long as you really mean it and also ACAB”.
3. A Creepshow Holiday Special (2020)
Christmassyness: more Christmas spirit than the shelves of Dollarama in late September (i.e. oodles)!
The legitimacy of the Creepshow brand fell like an elf off a very tall shelf after Creepshow 2, so I was skeptical when desperate for Xmas content and resorting to A Creepshow Holiday Special. But you know when you walk into a low expectation situation, like a fistfight at a Pier 1 Imports or a visit to the Portuguese dentist, and you walk out mega-pumped even though your mouth is a little bloody? That’s this 46-minute horror-comedy about a tortured man who seeks answers and support from a Shapeshifters Anonymous meeting. Unluckily for this guy, it turns out Santa fucking hates shapeshifters and a war is nigh.
I’m usually nonplussed by horror-comedy, but this plays like an Adam McKay line-o-rama with actually funny, vibrant characters. It has all the hallmarks of a good holiday genre film, including quality practical effects that supersede much of the Creepshow episodic fare and a story that’s less predictable than a Kanye interview.
Film’s Gift: one word – wereturtle.
4. Santa Jaws (2018)
Christmassyness: like day 4 of Christmas vacation when you can’t even look at another Lindt ball.
-hot-dog eating contests
-a monkey wearing a cowboy hat
-self-flagellating with a wet spatula
-a potato with googly eyes glued to it
-the nation of Poland
None of the above are in the movie, but all of the above have more creative merit than Sharksploitation films and this Syfy Original is no exception. But this one takes it so far, your bus transfer’ll expire. It’s frankly commendable. Santa Jaws is a great way to start your Antichristmas if you still have one foot in a living room argument with brother-in-law Jerry about why “all lives matter” is not a good tramp stamp idea. And a fun game to play is to look around the room and imagine which mounds of grime under your furniture would give more believable performances than the cast of Santa Jaws.
One thing that’ll put a kink in your popcorn garland is that you’ll probably have to pirate it off an illegal Russian horse betting site ‘cause I can’t find it streaming anywhere right now.
Film’s Gift: It’s easy to underestimate how many Christmas tropes you can tie to a single CGI shark, but I’ll say this: Santa hat on a dorsal fin.
5. The Advent Calendar (2020)
Christmassyness: feels like a makeout session with Ebenezer Scrooge himself.
This is a film that forces you to look at the age-old hypothetical: she’s a 10… but she’s a paraplegic and kills people using a haunted advent calendar. Also she’s Belgian and they’re the only French-speakers lower in the hierarchy than Quebecers. The titular entity is a gift a friend brings back from Germany. Every day, the advent calendar releases a candy that once eaten, grants a wish. Being a German wish machine, it’s beyond me why it doesn’t just offer the eradication of laughter every day.
The lead is in a wheelchair and her dad is catatonic, prompting you to wonder if this family is just really bad with fireworks or something. They bluntly lay out all the heroine’s problems and you can see how she’ll use the advent calendar to screw everything up with hasty wishes. It’s a very effective scary movie even though it leans on several tired tropes: cheap jumps, a blind guy who’s not just “regular blind” but has eyes that look like ice cream loogies, fingernails getting pulled back and the classic drawn-out gunpoint scene where at the last second they cut to an exterior of the house and a muzzle flare flashing in the window. Despite the adherence to convention, the premise carries the film from start to finish.
Film’s Gift: an indirect death by boner pill.
6. P2 (2007)
Christmassyness: like those Reese’s peanut butter cups shaped into Christmas trees. You bite it expecting something reminiscent of that winter magic, but swiftly realize it’s just a fucking peanut butter cup.
Still, you know this is a Christmas movie because it’s about a girl leaving an office Christmas party late at night, a coworker sexually harasses her while wearing felt reindeer antlers, and in one scene the bad guy sings Blue Christmas. It comes from the minds of Alexandre Aja and Gregory Levasseur, who were behind the likes of Haute Tension, The Hills Have Eyes remake and Piranha 3D, so you can rest assured they’ll crank the intensity up to 11. Any filmmaker with the capacity to fire up the screenwriting software and type, “-and then the piranha chews her tits…” is going to give you something memorable. Should note, if you can’t handle seeing dogs getting bludgeoned and impaled to death with a tire iron -BY YOUR PROTAGONIST-… maybe watch Nightmare Before Christmas instead.
P2 stars Rachel Nichols wearing a dress that looks like wax paper someone used to reheat fried chicken. When she leaves the office, she gets abducted by a crazed underground parking attendant played by Wes Bentley. Poor typecast Wes Bentley. He probably walks around pleading with people, “I swear! I’m not a murderous freak who’s attracted to plastic bags!” Then they look at his face for one second and they’re like, “Yeah right. You fuck, stab and eat bags, man.”
A lot of these Christmas horror movies are confinement based (allegory for the shackles of family obligations, anyone?), so that’s why you slide Santa Jaws in the middle to shake things up. But P2 is easy and low stakes! Fairly paint-by-the-numbers. No one’s acting too hard. Even the dog is such a shitty actor that at one point I heard him flub a line and meow.
Film’s Gift: a pervert gets turned to mush by the front end of a sedan.
7. A L’intérieur – aka Inside (2007)
Christmassyness: like Christmas in Saudi Arabia. You know it’s supposed to be Christmas. You just don’t feel it.
Director duo Alex Bustillo and Julien Maury pumped out this French new wave horror about a widowed expecting mother who’s home alone on Christmas Eve (Christmas horror movie) when a dark intruder begins hunting her throughout the house. We all know, dark intruders only show up to pregnant mothers’ homes for one reason: they want your baaaaaaabyyyyyy! The whole thing feels like a rural Irish maternity ward, complete with catfights, botched caesarians and knitting needle attacks. But the scares and creeps are genuine, brutal and creative. This is a legit horror to put on for a true scare.
Film’s Gift: best shotgun head explosion of all-time.
8. Better Watch Out (2016)
Christmassyness: as Christmassy as the feeling you get when you put on a sweater you got for Christmas 3 months ago.
Virginia Madsen and Putty from Seinfeld are rich assholes heading out to a Christmas party (Christmas movie: CHECK) so they leave their 12 year-old kid with the babysitter he has an uncomfortable hard-on for (TW: tween boners are explored). So when gun-toting intruders swarm the house, the kid is compelled to set up boobytraps and save the day, proving his virility to the babysitter he so greatly wishes to, I dunno, do? Gotta say, the most horrific part of this film is the unsettling sexual dynamic between a 12 year-old boy and a 17 year-old girl. It’s like going to school in Florida.
The lead kid is basically Home Alone’s Kevin McAllister if he listened to too much Jordan Peterson. You get some twists and kills and the setting is Christmassy enough to fill your heart with holiday churn. I just recommend having a pot of mulled wine on standby, ‘cause you’ll wanna get a little sloppy and mutter “fuck you, you little bastard” at the screen a bunch.
Film’s Gift: swearing kids. That stuff always takes me back to my time as an Angolan child soldier.
9. Christmas Bloody Christmas (2022)
Christmassyness: the movie is a big ol’ Christmas stocking full of meth!
A great alternate title would have been “Fubar VS Terminator Santa”. A couple of record store skids close up the shop for Christmas just as an animatronic Santa that uses US military firmware becomes sentient and goes haywire, obviously stuck on kill mode. The film is refreshing in its abandonment of structure, yet in lockstep with horror fans’ wants in its wealth of carnage.
And look, I’ve seen a lot of killer Santa movies, but director Joe Begos’ grindhouse/synthwave motif on Christmas Bloody Christmas takes it right to the top of my naughty list. It’s on Shudder right now.
Film’s Gift: a TON of axe kills. We’re talkin’ more hatchet jobs than the NOW Magazine comedy album review section.
10. Fuck it: watch Gremlins or Black Christmas
They’re the best two Christmas horror movies. Or not. What do I know? I’m just a childless loser with limping jizz. RIGHT, CYNTHIA?
Hunter Collins is a retired chinchilla breeder with a prolapsed coccyx and little pile of blankets he sleeps on in your shed.