Guest contribution from Brandon Engel.
For many families, the day after Thanksgiving marks the official countdown until Christmas. ABC Family, for one, kicks off their annual “25 Days of Christmas” marathon with films ranging from old school classics like RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER and FROSTY THE SNOWMAN, to some of their original movies, plus more recent Pixar films.
But what about the horror fans? Their prime time for movie watching is Autumn, and once the spirit of Halloween has worn off and the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers have been eaten, it’s generally impossible to find any marathons or airings of horror movies.
There are, however, some Christmas-themed films for the horror fans of the world, so check out these five titles to watch this holiday season!
1. SANTA’S SLAY (2005)
A murderous Santa on a rampage – It’s a pretty common holiday horror premise that initially makes you think the movie will be terrible. But this particular film definitely falls into the “so bad it’s good” category. The film offers up a rather unique idea: Santa Claus (played by Bill Goldberg) is actually a demon who had to give gifts and spread Christmas joy after losing a bet with an angel.
Once the bet is off, he instantly reverts back to his demonic nature and spreads terror and fear instead. After watching this disturbing twist on a centuries old symbol of kindness, you’ll likely never trust those already sketchy mall Santas ever again.
2. DON’T OPEN TILL CHRISTMAS (1984)
Across the pond in London, someone dressed in a Santa suit has decided to go on a rampage and kill dozens of innocent people. The movie follows an inspector from Scotland Yard who makes it his mission to stop the murderer before his killing spree becomes a twisted holiday tradition.
It’s more Jack the Ripper than it is MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET, but DON’T OPEN TILL CHRISTMAS is a thrilling film for those looking for a jolt of terror amid all the merriment this season. If anything, it’ll definitely make you think twice before putting on a Santa suit for your company Christmas party or family gathering.
4. TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT (1980)
This 1980 thriller tells the story of a group of prep-school students who find their holidays anything but jolly when a killer dressed in a Santa suit appears on campus. Partying teens plus a mysterious masked killer in a Santa suit equals a movie that’s somewhat predictable, but entertaining nonetheless.
4. GREMLINS (1984)
Gremlins takes us in a different direction from the aforementioned titles, forgoing the serial killing Santas and casting the mischief and fear-inducing responsibility into the hands (claws?) of creatures called gremlins. They start off looking cute and cuddly, like some strange hybrid between Yoda from STAR WARS and a Furby. (Remember those?)
But there are three rules that must never be broken when caring for a Mogwai, and of course, the protagonist of this series is a young boy who can’t follow directions. After the little furballs have been fed after midnight, they transform into spiteful, evil little creatures who are anything but cute.
They begin tearing apart the town of Kingston Falls, and only a young man named Billy Peltzer can end their reign of terror! (Note: The Gremlins return and continue their rampage in GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH, in which the destructive creatures infest a futuristic skyscraper in New York City).
5. BLACK CHRISTMAS (1974)
This low budget, Canadian-made classic (directed by Bob Clark, the man who gave us A CHRISTMAS STORY!) twists horror, murder, comedy, and Christmas all into one. A group of sorority sisters begin to receive frightening, anonymous phone calls over Christmas break, before they are picked off one by one.
BLACK CHRISTMAS features Margot Kidder (Lois Lane in SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE) playing against type, and is regarded by many to be the grand-daddy of the modern slasher film. This movie was remade in 2006 starring Michelle Trachtenberg, but the 1974 classic that inspired it all is definitely the one you should check out first.
As you can see, there’s no shortage of viable (and frightening) options to keep yourself scared stiff during this cheerful holiday season. So pop yourself some popcorn, warm up some hot chocolate, and prepare to have some frighteningly good holidays!