Five Festive Frights
Lights, trees and gleeful songs usually mean the beginning of the Christmas season. However, for us hardcore horror fans, nothing says Christmas more than appropriately themed horror films. With tons of likeminded films, there’s enough to keep you elbow’s deep in gore all month long.
As a child I fondly remember the lure of the season. The belly full of knots at the chance of seeing Santa or listening for reindeer landing on the roof. I remember asking Santa for toys, warming by the fire, eating cookies and drinking milk (or something a little harder for the adults, if you catch my drift). I was in elated with the happy and cheerful tidings that was Christmas.
That is until one Christmas Eve when I couldn’t help it and just had to see the mythical Santa with my own two eyes. I recall sneaking into the family room and catching my dad putting out bikes for me and my brothers, before I headed back to sleep. The next morning, much to my surprise, the bicycles were tagged with greetings and well wishes from Santa, thus ending my affair with the mystique of Santa Claus.
It wasn’t until some years later, when I was in my late teens, that I once again fell in love with the season. Learning of all the spectacular and yet very disturbing Christmas horror films I had yet to discover made me giddy for the holiday once more. I began filling my December with blood and severed limbs, instead of trees and lights. To me personally, nothing says Christmas more than psychotic Santa’s, demonic monsters and killer snowmen.
From that moment forward I began a new tradition that still holds up all these years later. Each December I would watch my favorite Christmas themed horror films to celebrate, and to help me get myself in the cheerful, festive holiday mood-if you can call it that. Christmas had been reinvigorated through my relationship with horror.
To me, Christmas isn’t about a fat man in a red suit who brings presents and fly’s a sled with magical reindeer. It isn’t about the over the top displays of lights and the continuous repeating of up-lifting music to get you sorted. To me Christmas is about sadistic killer Santas, Krampus, evil elves and mutant snowmen, and the fat man’s rising body count that continues to jolt upward with each passing season.
Don’t get me wrong, is still enjoy the regular traditions of the holiday. I still enjoy giving and spending time with my family and pets. I enjoy the traditional Christmas films and the never ending flow of alcohol. I still get a kick out of seeing the fake mall Santas and the pictures of kids who are scared out of their mind while sitting on some random, more than likely drunk, guy’s lap. It’s just that I’d much rather have my eyes glued to the screen watching Santa decapitate and dispose of those who have been naughty: and nice.
As a young-in, there weren’t very many Christmas horror films to watch (although there were some true classics) like there are nowadays. In this day and age, there is an abundance of horror films to choose from. There’s practically horror films for every holiday you can think of, and then some.
So without further ado, this my top five list of must see Christmas themed horror films for the season.
5. Jack Frost (1996)
I’m starting off my top five list with an extremely cheesy and laughable film, which to me is simply downright horrific. Had I seen this film as a child I’m sure I would have been traumatized beyond all repair. Number five on my list is the insanely violent and gruesome 1996 film, Jack Frost.
This film stars Scott MacDonald as Jack Frost, a convicted serial killer who meets his fate in a tragic accident. When a police van transporting the infamous killer Jack Frost collides with a semi carrying genetically modified acid, Jack is mutated into a savagely evil, killer snowman. Using his new found powers, he manipulates his snowy surrounds to better help him exact revenge on those responsible for his capture.
I love this nightmarish version of Frosty the Snowman. The campiness and shockingly good special effects alone, in my opinion, are enough to put this film in my top five. Besides, who doesn’t love a maniacal killer snowman.
4. P2 (2007)
Next on my list, coming in at number four, is the terrifying psychological sledge hammer of a film, P2. Staring Rachel Nichols as Angela, a hardworking corporate business woman who is stalked by a psychotic security guard in a secluded parking garage on Christmas Eve. Wes Bentley delivers a teeth grinding performance, playing Thomas, the security guard responsible for overseeing the garage.
Imagine walking to your vehicle in a dimly lit parking garage while Christmas songs heavily play in the background. Trapped in a parking garage is something nobody ever wants to happen to them, not on Christmas Eve, and especially not with a deranged killer running rampant. This is one of those fun, try to evade and survive type films that is playfully nerve racking, keeping you on the edge of your seat the length of the film.
Yes, that is the kid who filmed the bag floating around in the wind in the award winning film American Beauty, which makes this film that much scarier in my opinion. I know some will disagree on this pick, however, no matter how many times I watch this film, for some odd reason I never tire of it. Hence the reason it’s on the list.
3. Silent Night Deadly Night (1984)
Coming in at number three on my list, is a lasting film that has stood the test of time as one of the most memorable and beloved Christmas horror films. If something along the lines of this film managed to take place in reality, it would undoubtedly send society into a barbaric frenzy. The 1984 film Silent Night Deadly Night, is definitely one for the ages.
Starring Robert Brian Wilson as Billy, whose life takes a drastic turn when his parents are killed right in front of his eyes by a man wearing a Santa costume. With the death of his parents, Billy is sent to an orphanage where he is tormented by those around him. Years later he acquires a job at a local store, where upon he catches two teens having sex which causes him to snap, setting him on a delectable killing spree while dressed as Santa Claus.
It doesn’t get much better when it comes to a psycho in a Santa suit. This is a film I watched when I was a kid that always stuck with me. It’s hard to shake the image of a bloodied Santa wreaking havoc on unsuspecting victims. It is something that will forever live on in my mind as well as plenty of other viewers, I’m sure. Santa doesn’t care if you’re naughty or nice, he just wants blood. A madman in a Santa suit hacking people up with an axe, it doesn’t get much better than that.
2. Gremlins (1984)
Taking the number two spot on my list, is a film that really needs no introduction. The 1984 film that captured the hearts and imaginations of viewers alike, Gremlins. This is a film that I am positive is on numerous top Christmas horror film lists as well as top Christmas film lists in general. With such a stellar cast and a phenomenal director, who doesn’t love this film?
Comedy and horror go hand in hand in this iconic adventure. Gremlins stars Zach Galligan as Billy Peltzer, the son of an entrepreneur/inventor who decides to give his son a Christmas present, the likes of which he will never forget. There are just three rules, 1. No bright light, 2. Keep him away from water, and the most important rule 3. No matter how much he begs, don’t feed him after midnight.
This is just an all-around great holiday film. Cute furry little creatures transform into hellish mutant monsters, infesting the town of Kingston Falls on Christmas. Led by their evil leader Strip, the Gremlins cause destruction and mayhem wherever the road takes them in this one of a kind Christmas gem.
1. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)
Number 1 on my Christmas horror film list is a film that I keep near and dear to my heart. A film that couldn’t be easier to fall instantly in love with. A classic twist on the beloved holiday and myth of Santa Claus. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale, is a harrowing Christmas adventure, mordant and cunningly mysterious, burrowing its way into your psyche.
The Finnish film stars Onni Tommila as Pietari Kontio alongside his father Jorma Tommila who plays Rauno Konito. It’s very rare to have father and son actors portraying a father and son on film, which is something that gives this classic a genuine feel. This film is not about what you see, but how the imagination tends to run wild with what you don’t see. It’s a grim fairy tale brought to life right before your eyes.
Something massive has been unearthed from the Korvatunturi Mountains, something that will change the face of Christmas forever. Young Pietari thinks he’s hit the jackpot when he accidentally stumbles across a gaunt man dressed in a Santa suit. But what happens next is something straight out of a nightmare, as the young boy discovers the real truth surrounding Santa and Christmas.
With plenty of Christmas horror films to choose from, I’m sure not everyone will agree with my list. There are a few other films not on the list that are very much deserving of an honorable mention. Films such as Christmas Evil, Black Christmas (1974), Krampus and even though it’s not really a Christmas film but emanates the theme in the background, Child’s Play, are definitely worth a gander.
So there you have it, my top five favorite Christmas themed horror films that shouldn’t be passed up. Grab some cookies, snuggle up by the fire, pop in one of these amazing films and enjoy as it’s sure to be a night filled with laughter and frights. Just remember Santa is making a list and checking it twice so don’t find yourself caught on the wrong side.
So as I bid adieu, Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight.