Five Christmas Horror Films Worth Seeking Out

Five Christmas Horror Films Worth Seeking Out

By Daniel Rester

The undisputed best time of the year, Halloween, has passed. But that doesn’t mean that horror movies need to take a backseat. There are actually plenty of horror films that take place around the winter holidays, making them ideal viewing for December — and Christmas in particular. Here’s a look at five of them that are worth seeking out if you need to scratch that horror itch while getting into the holiday spirit at the same time. 

Black Christmas  (1974) 

Years before directing the family-friendly classic A Christmas Story (1983), Bob Clark helmed a much different kind of Christmas movie. Black Christmas finds a group of sorority sisters being stalked and killed off by a creep during their Christmas break. The cast is excellent, with Margot Kidder a standout as the take-no-nonsense Barb, while the antagonistic “Billy” is terrifying despite only being a phone call voice and a few shadows. Clark also uses the killer’s POV in a way that was unique at the time the film was made. The film was an important stepping stone in establishing the slasher subgenre, which came into full form with Halloween (1978) four years later. Black Christmas is the ultimate Christmas horror film. Avoid the 2006 and 2019 remakes though. Grade: A

Gremlins  (1984) 

After making Piranha (1978) and The Howling (1981), Joe Dante delivered arguably his most famous project with Gremlins. The story, by Chris Columbus, finds a town terrorized by strange little creatures on Christmas Eve. With cheers and scares, Gremlins is a dark comedy full of images both festive and odd. It also features masterful puppetry effects. By being both playful and intense, the film was seen as fine for teens but too dark for young children and thus helped lead to the creation of the PG-13 rating. Grade: A-

Silent Night, Deadly Night  (1984) 

Here’s one that’s not to be taken too seriously, though it caused some unnecessary controversy upon release. Silent Night, Deadly Night features a guy with childhood issues dressing as Santa Claus and going on a killing spree. The death scenes are more amusing than scary, such as when a person is impaled on antlers and someone else is decapitated while sledding. Dopey slasher fun. Grade: B-

À l’intérieur  (Inside) (2007)

Looking for something that’s genuinely scary and shocking? Inside is a frighteningly violent but gripping French film that should never be watched by expecting mothers. It takes place on Christmas Eve and follows a pregnant widow who fights to survive against a mysterious woman who wants her child. At just 82 minutes, Inside is a lean and mean picture that will definitely make you squirm at times. It’s one of the best of the “New French Extremity” films of the 2000s. Grade: A-

Krampus  (2015) 

What starts out as a typical dysfunctional family comedy set around Christmas, Krampus soon turns dark and weird. It follows a family that is hunted by the folklore beast after one of the children loses his faith in the holidays. The whole cast is entertaining, with Adam Scott showing leading man quality and Conchata Ferrell a hoot as a mean old aunt. The creature attacks get really nutty in the third act, with things like a man-eating jack in the box and dangerous gingerbread men. I wish the film had gone hard R, but it’s still effective at PG-13. Grade: B 

Written by
Daniel Rester is a writer for the We Live Film portion of We Live Entertainment. He is a Southern Oregon University alumnus and has a Bachelor of Science degree with a double major in Communication (Film, Television, and Convergent Media) and Emerging Media and Digital Arts. He has been involved with writing and directing short films for years. Rester also won 2nd place in the Feature Screenplay Competition in the 2015 Oregon Film Awards for his screenplay "Emma Was Here," which is currently in post-production and will be Rester's feature directorial debut.

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