Watching a Yuletide Horror throughout December is just as exciting to me as watching a Halloween film during October. There's just something incredibly alluring about monsters and massacres juxtaposed with the joyous backdrop of Christmas!
There are a lot more Christmas Horrors out there than most people think, and I find myself discovering more and more each year.
So alongside Adam's Top Christmas Horror Film Picks all of which I religiously watch myself each year, here are some added Christmas Chillers that have become annual viewings for myself.
Click on each title's link to check out all the trailers!
I only discovered this little gem this year but I've immediately added it to the annual list!
Forest Gump's Sally Field and Arrested Development's Jessica Walter star as siblings, who along with their two other sisters are summoned home by their ailing and embittered father over Christmas. The patriarch tells his daughters he thinks his current wife (played by The Haunting's Julie Harris) is trying to murder him. With this revelation and in true horror fashion, the family become stranded at their home due to a storm, some flooding and a power cut, cutting all lines to the outside world. Needless to say, someone is trying to kill the patriarch, but not before making their way through the inhabitants of the house one by one.
This 1972 TV-Movie was produced by THE Aaron Spelling, so expect high camp and soap opera overtones. Interestingly this little film embodies many of the slasher traits we've come to love over the decades, yet Home For The Holidays actually predates the slasher craze; in which the genre's Golden Age began with Halloween in 1978.
Mysteries, Christmas Trees and a Pitchfork! What's not to love!?
For some reason I slept on this film for years, finally making the effort to watch it last year and immediately fell in love its bleak and chilly atmosphere.
Two college students (A Quiet Place's Emily Blunt and A History of Violence's Ashton Homes) share a ride home for the holidays. Their route is invariably fraught with hideous weather that leads them onto a mysterious back road. Tensions run high between the two strangers and they're suddenly run off the road by a hit and runner. As night falls and the temperature drops below zero, the unlikely pair begin to realise that they are caught up in a supernatural bubble where a crime from 1953 is doomed to repeat itself. Can the two protagonists survive the night, or will the Ghosts or frost bite claim their souls?
A slow burn with a chilly bite, 2007's Wind Chill emits homages to good old fashion horror and is a well done exercise in psychological terror.
The original (and remake) Silent Night, Deadly Night is most certainly one of my Yuletide favourites! The 2nd one was okkkkk and the 3rd, well - I don't want to even talk about that one! I've yet to see Part 4 but I'm aware it is unconnected to the first 3, and I believe it is about witches, NOT Santa! However it is directed by Brian Yuzna, so colour me intrigued. In fact, Yuzna is also Producer on Silent Night, Deadly Night 5.
Going into The Toymaker I knew that this would be a stand alone film... but I had no intentions of enjoying it as much as I did!
The film follows a young boy who receives a Christmas present late at night on his door step. He brings it inside but his father catches him and sends him back to bed. He opens the present himself and discovers a small Santa toy inside. However, this is no ordinary Santa toy. The toy comes to life and kills the father while the boy watches from the stairs.
Some time passes and the boy refuses to talk so his mother takes him to a local toy store where they meet the lovable owner Joe Petto and his mischievous son Pino. From here things take a terrifying turn with twists and turns and killer animatronic toys; one gory scene in particular is one of the main talking points of the movie! Think Puppet Master Vs Demonic Toys meets Halloween 3 with a bit of Pinocchio thrown in.
Interesting bit of trivia - Mickey Rooney (who plays Joe Petto) is known for voicing his disapproval of the first film in the series, in fact, he wrote a letter of protest against Silent Night, Deadly Night, stating that the 'scum' who made it should be 'run out of town' for having sullied the sacredness of Christmas - and here he is, a staring role in the fifth instalment of the series!
This one is a solid addition to any Christmas viewing!
This Dutch film harks back to the origins of Saint Nick and reimagines him as a scarier version of Sinterklaas, and maybe even more BAD ASS than Krampus! A vengeful, seasonal ghost armed with a razor-bladed staff, Sint is a bloodthirsty medieval murderer and all around brute who kidnaps and murders children whenever there's a full moon on December 5th. Centuries ago local villagers banded together on the night of Dec. 5 and lynched him but moments before he died Sinterklaas vowed vengeance from beyond the grave! Jump to present times and as the anniversary creeps around again, Sinterklaas is true to his word, and Amsterdam turns all bloody, leaving it up to an intrepid teenager named Frank and past survivor and ex-cop Goert to put a stop to the mayhem.
Director Dick Maas (Amsterdamned) has created a damn stylish, wicked, and hugely entertaining take on the darker history of a beloved legend. Action packed, gory and downright Festive fun, 2010's Sint needs to be seen by the masses! For those that felt Michael Dougherty's Krampus was a little too much on the PG side, then you can certainly get that gory mayhem fix here.
You brought them into the world. They will take you out.
A family anticipates a Christmas filled with sledding, laughter and hot cocoa as they head to their vacation home in the secluded backcountry...The holiday cheer takes a fast turn for the worse after a mysterious flu-like virus sweeps through the kids. One by one the children become deadly. Amidst the suspicion, mayhem and murder, the parents fight for survival against their own twisted offspring.
Tom Shankland delivers a gory British scarefest that doesn't involve any evil Santas, but asks 'what if all the children turned into pint-sized killing machines right around December 25th'? Whilst that theory may cut deep for many parents around the holiday time with some bratish behaviour from their own offspring, the children in this film are unstoppable agents of violence who smile impishly as they attack their parents.
If, like me, you're a fan of Evil Children Horror such as Village Of The Damned, The Prodigy and The Good Son, then you must check out 2008's The Children, it really does stand out from the crowd, and the juxtaposition of twisted macabre to the backdrop of the holiday season is an added treat.
Similar to Wind Chill in that it takes place almost exclusively inside a car, 2003's Dead End used to be one of my favourite films back in the day.
As many people will be able to relate, traveling with family for the festive season can be stressful. This is definitely the case for Ray Wise's Frank Harrington and his family on Christmas Eve. Rather than taking the usual route to grandma's house, the patriarch moves away from the highway and takes a detour down a road that never seems to end. As the family stays on this endless, desolate road, they come across unexplained and horrifying events.
Jean-Baptiste Andrea and Fabrice Canepa write/direct this sensationally underrated indie horror with a fantastic cast including the incomparable Lin Shaye, long before her status as a Horror Queen!
A black hearse and a lady in white starts pursuing them and one-by-one the family is carted off by its unknown driver. Whilst the premise is simplistic the direction and cast help elevate this spooky romp as tensions, paranoia, and insanity fog car windows and souls are claimed. The ending is also all too familiar within the horror genre, but the film is so much fun, I can't really see anyone overly caring and instead will just enjoy the whimsicalness of veterans Wise and Shaye giving it their all.
The only thing more terrifying than being alone, is discovering that you're not!
From Maniac director Franck Khalfoun and co-written by the amazing Alexandre Aja of Switchblade Romance, 2007's P2 finds Wes Bentley playing insane security guard Thomas, who refuses to let Angela (Rachel Nichols) go home for the holidays because he's obsessed with her... and because... well... HE'S A PSYCHOPATH!
A psychological cat and mouse thriller that's camp, intense and gory! The premise is rather formulaic but the performances and relentlessness of the action makes this worthwhile. This one definitely stands out from the crowd that's swamped with evil Santa's and teenagers being sliced and diced on Christmas, and slightly plays out like a grown up version of Better Watch Out - I can definitely see a bit of Levi Miller's Luke in Wes Bentley's Thomas.
This Holiday Season, do you dare to stay HOME ALONE?
1989's Deadly Games is another relatively new annual favourite of mine, having only discovered it last year! And boy, is this a good one!
This action packed French Festive film sees a young boy pitted against a psychopathic Santa inside his family's mansion, but Thomas isn't any normal little boy, he is a technology guru, and doesn't take kindly to his home being invaded. Thomas spreads on facial camouflage that would make Rambo proud and sets many Home Alone-flavoured festive traps and tries to evade this unstoppable Santa whilst also trying to keep his sick grandfather safe from the clutches of the maniac.
This all takes place inside a truly fantastical set - Thomas' Mother happens to be a CEO of a large toy store chain, and many rooms inside their big mansion echo the enormity of many a toy store. Mise-En-Scene plays out absolutely beautifully throughout this film.
The only part of the film that doesn't sit well with me is the very mean spirited scene where Santa kills Thomas' dog. I guess this character has a little John Wick inside of him, as well as Rambo and Kevin McCallister.
Dark yet satisfying with a great sense of adventure, I think you'll see a lot more people mention this film as it level ups to a Cult Status.
ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE
And so we come to the end of Craig's Christmas Chillers, but not before we drop in on two of the best evil Santa's around town.
Whilst not a film, I always double team these two Tales From The Crypt Segments, aptly titled All Through The House.
From the 1972's film based on EC Comics and Vault Of Horror, we're introduced to Joan Collins' character, who's in a bit of a pickle on Christmas Eve. The devious Joanne Clayton has just buried a fireplace poker into her husband's head and is quickly trying to rid her house of his corpse. She then realises she has to dismember the body before cashing in on his life insurance. At the same time, a radio announcement about an escaped lunatic dressed as Santa seemingly offers her the perfect escape from her predicament. Blame it all on him! Of course, in true TFTC fashion, we always know the naughty people get their just desserts! Her blissfully naïve daughter lets the killer big guy in, shrieking that Santa finally came, before he erupts into psychopathic rage.
Oozing with 70's British Hammer Horror style cinematography and maniacal fun this is almost as good as, if not slightly better than the 1989 version, which comes as the 2nd episode of the well known TV show, Tales From The Crypt.
With the Goonies' Mary Ellen Trainor taking the role of the devious wife, and directed by Robert Zemeckis (and written by Fred Dekker) this version plays out almost exactly the same, but with its tongue more firmly in its cheek. Brimming with pure Holiday terror this is considered to be CLASSIC Crypt episode, and paired with the original it makes for a Frighteningly Festive Yuletide viewing!
So - hope you enjoyed this Horrifying Holiday list, I find a lot of these to be undiscovered gems as you don't see many people shouting out about them. That may be for a particular reason tho HAHAH - but I stick by my guns. Alongside Adam's list, and between us, I feel we've come up with the ultimate list for the Yuletide Horror December viewing!
Follow me on my Instagram to keep up with what else I'll be watching throughout this Holiday Season - FisherFilms82