Thanksgiving is officially over and thus begins the Christmas season. Homes across America are covered in Christmas lights, Christmas trees are being set up in living rooms, and halls will most assuredly be decked soon if they aren’t already.
There are a number of Christmas movies perfect for this time of year. Bob Clark’s holiday magnum opus, A Christmas Story, is certainly on many lists of things to watch this December. Families celebrating the holiday now have two different feature-length movie versions of Dr. Seuss’ book How The Grinch Stole Christmas to enjoy, not to mention the classic animated cartoon from 1986. The Tim Allen family comedy The Santa Clause also serves as some fine holiday cheer, and action buffs can even enjoy watching Bruce Willis as John McClane take on Alan Rickman’s iconic villain Hans Grueber in the Christmas-themed action classic Die Hard.
But what about fans of horror? Halloween is generally regarded as their time to shine, but there are actually plenty of Christmas-themed horror films to keep the scares coming, even during “the most wonderful time of the year.”
Here’s a list of five Christmas-themed horror movies. We’re going in order of most family-friendly, to least.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
The Nightmare Before Christmas is easily digestible for the entire family and brings a level of heartwarming fun to the table, while still managing to evoke a ton of grim imagery. The only issue is whether or not The Nightmare Before Christmas should be considered a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie. While the film is about Jack Skellington, The Pumpkin King of Halloween Town deciding to take over Christmas, he ultimately comes to the realization that Halloween is his birthright and his true calling in life. In the end, Halloween wins the day. Still, there’s plenty of Christmas moments in The Nightmare Before Christmas, particularly during the dazzling “What’s This” sequence.
Gremlins amps up the violence a bit, but not much. It’s still fine viewing for most families, even with small children. Gizmo, the lovable and adorable fictional creature known as a mogwai is cute enough to keep children grinning throughout. Adults can also enjoy this film, most likely as a nostalgia trip from their own childhoods if for no other reason.
It’s perhaps not “fun for the whole family,” but Krampus is rated PG-13 and thus has a limited amount of graphic violence and no nudity to speak of. There is some profanity, but it’s kept to a reasonable minimum. Families with teenage children can enjoy this one together. Based on the Austro-Bavarian folklore of the titular creature Krampus, a kind of anti-Santa Claus, this movie actually brings some genuine scares, but also its fair share of slapstick comedy. Featuring Toni Collette of Hereditary and directed by Michael Doughtery (Trick ‘r Treat), Krampus was generally well-received by critics and features some seriously impressive special effects.
Black Christmas (1974)
This is where we step away from family viewing completely. Black Christmas is a violent, R-rated slasher movie that helped set the tone for the slasher genre of the ’80s. Pre-dating A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, and even Halloween, Black Christmas is a film about a group of sorority sisters being stalked by a psychotic madman, featuring brutal kills and sinister phone calls that will send chills up the spines of even the most seasoned horror fans.
Interesting fact about the brutal Black Christmas, it was directed by Bob Clark, who also directed the Christmas family classic A Christmas Story.
Silent Night, Deadly Night
SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT— Film Posters (@filmposters_) November 19, 2018
Make sure the kids are nestled all snug in their beds before putting on Silent Night, Deadly Night. Featuring some of the most brutal killings of the ’80s slasher golden-era, Silent Night, Deadly Night sparked an uproar of controversy upon its initial release in 1984. A number of organizations tried to have the film banned from theaters outright due to its usage of Santa Claus as the movie’s killer. Only for serious horror fans, Silent Night, Deadly Night is a great Christmas horror movie for those who can stomach it.