Krampus stalks theaters today, and we’re excited about that. The film looks wicked in the best of ways, and fans are buzzing in a way we rarely see come Christmas time. This movie – be it amazing or mediocre – is going to successfully reignite a lot of interest in Christmas horror movies. And, why not? We all love seasonal offerings. Halloween flicks are great, but October 31st is now firmly in the rearview. Thanksgiving is a weight gain extravaganza with a few themed features worth taking in. It’s Christmas that really does front the holiday charge as there are far more themed films to choose from.
But what Christmas horror stories (is that indication of what is to come? Perhaps!) are worth tuning into? What films stand out? Which of the many movies about insane elves or murderous men in red suits are worthy of popping in the Blu-ray player in 2015? We’ve got your answers below!
10 The Children
The Children was released seven years ago to generally warm acclaim. That’s why it’s a wonder that fans sleep on the picture so much today. It’s one of the better “killer kids” movies out there, and while there isn’t an insane amount of emphasis placed on the Christmas season, it’s still there to absorb. Tom Shankland did an excellent job with this picture, and it remains a serious standout in the Ghost House Underground collection. Be prepared for a jarring story, as sometimes the things left unexplained or unexplored are the most disconcerting elements of horror fare. The Children leaves plenty of doors open and that crawls under the skin. Deep, deep under the skin.
09 Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale
Rare Exports had critics and fans alike totally split in regards to verdict. Some loved it, some hated it. For my buck it’s one of the coolest Christmas features out there, and the complexity behind the conflict is a blast to behold. Don’t anticipate the typical killer Santa, or simple slasher set on December 25th ideas from this one, it operates under a different set of guidelines. Effective guidelines.
08 Santa’s Slay
Santa’s Slay is goofy (okay, supremely goofy), often wooden in the realm of onscreen performances and about 10 minutes too short. But if you’ve got an open mind, and you’re okay with intentionally silly flicks, you’re in for a treat. Bill Goldberg makes for an entertaining evil Santa and he gets some great support from a few experienced and inexperienced performers. Santa’s Slay isn’t meant to be taken seriously, it’s meant to provide brainless thrills and it more than succeeds in doing so!
Sint, like Rare Exports – another foreign Christmas themed horror pic – breaks a lot of the rules we’ve been conditioned to follow. And, like Rare Exports, Sint impresses from the jump. The movie looks awesome, bringing some wonderfully warm visuals to home viewers. It also sounds great, features a terrifying villain (who has absolutely zero remorse for anyone and everyone), some ruthless gore and a strong finale. Sint has managed to fly under the radar since its 2010 release, but it’s a movie you should be adding to your holiday lineup in 2015.
06 Silent Night, Deadly Night
Once deemed one of the most controversial films ever released, and once damn near impossible to get your hands on, Charles E. Sellier Jr.’s Silent Night, Deadly Night is now recognized as a tame piece of work. It’s also extremely easy to get your hands on these days – numerous different versions, it should be added – as it now occupies space on shelves of some of the more commercial retailers out there. You can pick it up at Target, you can pick it up at Walmart. You can get it just about anywhere. And it’s an investment you should make. Despite the fact that it’s lost a little of it’s umph over the years it still plays out as a fun and merciless holiday film with a fine concept driving the whole production forward.
05 Silent Night
Steven C. Miller’s retooling of Silent Night, Deadly Night is bad ass. The flick showcases some insane cinematography and editing, some gorgeous visuals and impressive performances from modern day scream queen Jaime King, living legend Malcolm McDowell and the always enjoyable Donal Logue. Did we mention the movie is about as un-PC as you’ll see these days? Yeah, that goes a long way with horror viewers, as we get a morbid kick out of seeing naughty children punished in severe fashion. Call is sick, call us twisted – just don’t call us late to supper.
04 A Christmas Tale
Hands down the most underrated movie on this list, A Christmas Tale popped up as one of the featured flicks in the 2005 foreign collection 6 Films to Keep you Awake. That was a solid collection, but this pic far surpasses solid. It is crammed full of awesome nods to classic films, shockingly refined performances from a slew of youngsters and it’s all anchored by a great and creative spin on Santa. This one could be labeled a zombie film, but that doesn’t exactly do the movie justice; it’s a lot more than that. If you’re like the vast majority of genre fans, you probably allowed this collection to slip between the cracks. We urge you to track it down, if for no other reason than this particular flick right here. It’s awesome.
03 A Christmas Horror Story
2015 was one hell of a year for horror. Among the number of shining stars to hit the market, A Christmas Horror Story resides somewhere in the direction of the front of the pack. It’s a very well assembled anthology that utilizes the Michael Dougherty Trick ‘r Treat approach, electing to not separate the stories distinctly, but interweave them all together in somewhat discreet fashion. It’s a successful venture and then some, as the stories – while not all too original, admittedly – come together beautifully and hold our attention through the 99-minute runtime. Santa has as stunning showdown with Krampus in this one, and that alone is worth the price tag.
Hands down one of the finest films to wriggle from the 1980s, Joe Dante’s seasonal horror comedy, Gremlins is priceless. Absolutely priceless. The picture offers a slick story, some sharp humor, a few stellar performances and some of the coolest little creatures ever put to film. The essence of Christmas is captured with perfection and the story is so engaging it proves impossible to peel your eyes from the screen. You’ve all seen it, but we’re still happy to praise it; Gremlins is a legendary piece of work!
01 Black Christmas
When it comes to Yule Tide terror, it simply does not get any better than Bob Clark’s masterpiece and slasher kick-off, Black Christmas. This is what perfect character development and exploration looks like. This is what the perfect horror buildup looks like. This is an example of a group of young performers turning in amazing performances. Clark revolutionized the first-person POV and did so in style. The eye-popping aesthetics and faithfulness to the holiday are brilliant, as Black Christmas truly, truly looks like Christmas… gone horribly awry, of course! No matter what else you do this year, make Black Christmas a must-see movie.