Christmas is the season of the classic film. No other celebration creates more movies than the holiday season. And really, you can see why, celebrating Christmas one of the new things that most people can agree on (unless you’re Kate Beringer).
Which is also why, I think, filmmakers love destroying Christmas with horror movies. There are so many Christmas-themed horror movies, it even out-numbers Friday the 13th sequels. While Christmas great and all, it’s even better with axes, demons and monsters.
But not all Christmas horror movies are created equal. Here are my personal favourites. I even stretched what it means to be a Christmas movie, because I can:
1. Black Christmas (1974)
Boy, I go on about this movie a lot, but I really do love it. The death scenes can be a bit gruesome, but they’re effective. The suspense is so well-built, it could be the foundation for a shopping mall.
A group of sorority sisters are terrorised during the Christmas season by an unseen man. The body count goes up, and so do the thrills. Olivia Hussey is absolutely perfect as the lead.
Black Christmas one of the finest examples of Canadian films and really gives Bob Clark’s other Christmas movie a run for its money (maybe). And this classic slasher one movie that I go back to every year, whether or not it’s Christmas. But watching it in the days up to the holiday is even better.
2. Gremlins (1984)
Yes. This is kind of cheating. While Black Christmas is one of my favourite horror films, Gremlins is probably my favourite film ever. Gremlins is definitely a children’s film in many ways, but Joe Dante’s horror influences are undeniable.
And if you’ve somehow managed to never see this movie, it’s about a Billy (Zach Galligan) who receives a creature known as a mogwai as a Christmas present from his father. The creature is sweet and loving, but comes with three rules: no bright lights, don’t ever get it wet, and never ever feed it after midnight.
Gizmo, the world’s greatest puppet, “gives birth” to several mogwai with bad attitudes. When they trick Billy into breaking the final rule, they turn into Gremlins, who wreck havoc on the small town.
Gremlins is an absolute classic in every sense. I see it every single year at The Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square, and it never fails to entertain. Plus is totally scared the shit out of me as a kid, which is a bonus if you’re a truly terrible parent.
3. The Night of the Comet (1984)
Is this a Christmas movie? Well… it takes place during Christmas so it counts. Anyway, it’s my list.
Two sisters survive the passing of a comet that wipes out a majority of the planet’s population when they stand outside to watch the comet pass. They then have to fend of the other zombie-like survivors who are out to eat them. Even worse, the military needs their blood to survive and these valley girls aren’t willing to give up without a fight.
Night of the Comet is the perfect 80’s film. It’s witty, completely absurd, and filled to the brim with excellent characters. I recently re-watched this on the Arrow Video blu-ray release and it was great to be reminded how good this film really is. It’s the perfect cult classic you can rope others into watching because CHRISTMAS!
4. Elves (1989)
Pagan rituals! Nazis! Sinister plots!
Elves is weird. I would be lying if I even pretended to full grasp what the hell this film is. It’s a part of the “so bad it’s good” genre. The plot is just utterly baffling, but I suppose that’s why I rather like it.
A girl is the centre of a Nazi plot to create a race of supermen. Some how this involves elves. Then the girl and her pals get trapped in a department store with said elf.
Sounds totally bonkers? It is, if you didn’t get the message earlier. But it’s rather fun if you’re into that sort of thing.
“I had a rough day at work. Santa got murdered.”
5. Christmas Evil (1980)
The classic “Santa goes nuts” plot. But Christmas Evil is so weird, so wacky that you can’t help but feel a bit of affection for it. Plus John Waters loves it, so you can only guess what type of film this is.
But if you’re interested in knowing more, you can just wait until Wednesday for a more in-depth Wicked Wednesday. This film is a much better option to Silent Night, Deadly Night, which on the surface is fairly similar (kid sees Santa do something “naughty” as a young boy, boy grows up to be psycho obsessed with Santa). Though that film is the worst option you’d have for a Christmas horror movie. In fact…
6. Silent Night (2012)
I know, I know. Horror remakes are never better than the original, but this is. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not exactly what I would catagorise as a good. But Silent Night is still a helluva lot better than the original film it was based on. And I’m constantly told that Silent Night, Deadly Night is worth it. It’s not. It’s really, really not. Though some of the sequels have some truly classic scenes.
Back in the Wicked Wisconsin Wednesday days I wrote about Silent Night. I slightly enjoyed it then, and I still tolerate it now.
7. Home for the Holidays (1972)
A made-for-TV film that has everything you could want, really: loads of over-the-top thunder, Sally Field, and a slightly-obvious murder mystery. This was another Wicked Wednesday choice, and I still rate it as the best made-for-TV film I’ve watched yet. Sure, it gets melodramatic but isn’t that what made-for-TV should be?
And a bunch of people getting killed off during Christmas is always exciting. And the whodunnit is rather entertaining as well.
So what’s your favourite Christmas film? Any horror picks I missed out on?