Halloween has come and gone, and we Americans have eaten our Thanksgiving turkeys as the fall leaves turn into winter snow. As the days get shorter and the nights longer, as we perspire near the fire and drink hot cocoa, as we build snowmen and decorate trees, we, all of us, think the same thought…
Christmas movies kinda suck.
But fret not, dear reader! I am here to help you deal with the endless sugary sweet movies of beautiful people kissing under mistletoe and kids hoping that Santa comes through again. I come with glad tidings of horror! Here, to help you ignore gumdrops, carolers, and candy canes, I bring you a list of ghouls, killers, and damaged brains! Here are some of the best horror movies for Christmas!
Before we start, I want to give you a warning – some of these trailers may not be safe for work. That out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff!
SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT
You may have looked at the first part of the title of this here flick and thought “I knew this would be on the list” then hit the second half and been all “Wha!!!!!!”. If so, I gotcha!
On Christmas Eve, John Carter and his assistant show up in a small Massachusetts town to set up the sale of the Butler Mansion for the super cheap price of fifty grand. The mansion has a nasty history to it, and the Butler family is happy to finally unload the thing on someone else.
This being a horror movie, you can be sure that there’s bad stuff happening at the Butler Mansion. A whole lot of killing, the super nuts secrets of the town, and a few phone calls make up the majority of this flick co-written by Jeffrey Konvitz and produced by Lloyd Kaufman. I must admit, I haven’t seen this one since I was maybe thirteen, but it’s always stuck with me. Does it hold up? Watching that trailer tells me “probably not”! Still, I do think it is worth watching.
NIGHT TRAIN MURDERS
Imagine you’re sitting in a theater watching THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT and you think to yourself, “This doesn’t go far enough!” That may have been what Italian filmmaker Aldo Lado was thinking when he decided to make NIGHT TRAIN MURDERS aka SECOND HOUSE ON THE LEFT aka LAST HOUSE PART II.
The movie, about two girls traveling from Germany to Italy by train, pretty much takes everything that happened in THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT and does it multiple times or amps it up, so if the nasty its of THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT were too much for you, then maybe skip this one.
I first came to find out about CHRISTMAS EVIL thanks to John Waters who loves it. He says it is a must watch every year, and who am I to disagree with an icon like him?
The movie revolves around Harry Stadling, a man osessed with Christmas. Harry wants to become Santa Claus, so he does all the things he figures Santa does. He keeps a list of all the good and bad kids in his New Jersey town which he spies on from the roof of his house. He sleeps in a Santa outfit. He’s one reindeer shy of a flying sleigh is what I’m saying.
When Harry figures out that everyone in town thinks he’s a goofball, he has a nervous breakdown and begins to believe that he really is Santa. Now totally bonkers, Harry goes on a murder spree.
This is one of those movies that I can only guess got lost in the shuffle. Why we don’t hear about it more I have no idea. That it has never been remade is shocking. Lucky for us all, Vinegar Syndrome released it on Blu-Ray in 2014.
Frank Harrington is driving his family to his mother-in-law’s for Christmas, just as he has for the last twenty years. This year, things don’t go the way Frank planned it; his new shortcut ends up getting him and his family lost on an endless, nearly deserted road. When Frank spots a woman in white in the woods, things go from bad to deadly.
Jean-Baptiste Andrea and Fabrice Canepa took the concept of the Woman in White and added their own touches to it. They set the story on Christmas Eve and instead of a lone driver, they made it a family on a long drive. This is a great present to us all. DEAD END is an unquestionably good movie with a super solid cast lead by Ray Wise and Lin Shaye. If you haven’t seen it, fix that right away. If you have seen it, watch it again. You know you want to.
DON’T OPEN TILL CHRISTMAS
When you were a kid, was there something you wanted for Christmas so bad you would have killed for it? When you didn’t get it, were you so filled with anger that you wanted to see Santa Claus get murdered in a wide variety of ways? If so, DON’T OPEN TILL CHRISTMAS is the movie for you!
A killer walks the streets of London murdering anyone with rosy cheeks, bright sparkling eyes, and a belly like a bowl full of jelly. No one is safe from this Santa Slayer! Well, anyone not dressed like Santa is safe, but Christmas is right around the corner and by English law at the time, everyone had to dress like Saint Nick, so the people of London are in a real bind!
DON’T OPEN TILL CHRISTMAS is… not good, but still fun to watch. The movie took two years to film and went through three directors. Edmund Purdom was the original director, but he quit. Co-writer Derek Ford took over directing duties but he got fired after two days. Ray Selfe stepped up to the directing chair and reshot most of the movie before he left and Edmund Purdom came back to finish it all up.
There you have it! Five great Christmas horror movies for your viewing pleasure! Well… four great Christmas horror movies and DON’T OPEN TILL CHRISTMAS. OK, OK… DEAD END and CHRISTMAS EVIL are pretty great, and the other three are varying degrees of good (ranging from not good to good!). Still, I do think each of them are worth watching for one reason or another. Some of them you may want a few friends to join you so you can MST3K it up though.
Either way, have yourself a scary little Christmas!
*Header Photo: CHRISTMAS EVIL (1980) Vinegar Syndrome