We Wish You a Scary Christmas: Christmas Horror Movies

'Tis the season to be...gory? If this time of year makes you reflect on how much you enjoy seeing people killed in nasty ways, then those psychiatrist appointments aren't really doing any good, are they? But far be it from me to call you crazy. I mean, I wouldn't want you jabbing any sharp objects in my eye or anything, so here's a list of Christmas monsters and horror movies that might appease your holiday bloodlust.

Tales From the Crypt (1972)

Still from "Tales From the Crypt"
20th Century Fox

This classic British anthology features the original killer Santa in the segment "And All Through the House." The story opens on Christmas Eve with a woman (Joan Collins) delivering a not-so-seasonal greeting to her husband via a fireplace poker to the skull. As she's trying to dispose of the body, an escaped homicidal maniac dressed as Santa Claus tries to break into the house. Trouble is, she can't call the cops because of the whole dead husband thing. Bloody brilliant!

In 1989, the first season of HBO's Tales From the Crypt TV show presented a gleefully over-the-top, almost slapstick remake of "And All Through the House," directed by Back to the Future's Robert Zemeckis. This time, Larry Drake plays a much more intimidating, grotesque killer who speaks, cackles and, most importantly, carries an axe.

Black Christmas (1974)

Black Christmas
© Ambassador Films

A groundbreaking early slasher,

Black Christmas

finds a sadistic killer making threatening phone calls from -- you guessed it -- INSIDE THE HOUSE. And a sorority house at that. Still terrifying to this day, it makes Christmas the creepiest holiday this side of Guy Fawkes Night.

Silent Night, Bloody Night (1974)

Silent Night, Bloody Night - Christmas horror movie
© Film Chest

It's not really Christmas-centric, but this film has a mysterious figure taking revenge for something that happened on Christmas Eve 40 years prior. Even after the killer is revealed, the convoluted plot might have you wondering what happened, but

Silent Night, Bloody Night

-like mystery that anticipates the 1980s slasher revolution.

Night Train Murders (1975)

Night Train Murders
© Blue Underground

If you found the controversial

Last House on the Left

too lighthearted and family-friendly, try this Italian rip-off on for size. Heading home for Christmas vacation, two female college students are cornered on a train and brutalized, but the culprits get their comeuppance when they inadvertently meet one of the girls' fathers. Awkward!

Christmas Evil (1980)

Christmas Evil
© Synapse Films

Now here's a killer Santa who's actually sympathetic. You see, Harry loves Christmas. He loves it so much that he dresses as Santa and keeps track of who's naughty and who's nice. If you're naughty, you run the risk of having your eye gouged out, but other than that, Harry's not such a bad guy; certainly not "evil." As silly as it sounds,

Christmas Evil
When a Stranger Calls

when the stranger isn't calling.

Don't Open Till Christmas (1984)

Don't Open Till Christmas
© Mondo Macabro

In this holiday slasher, the killer isn't Santa; he's killing Santas. The fact that it's British makes it seem less sleazy than it is.

Gremlins (1984)

© Warner Bros.

Long before people started giving those obnoxious Furbies as Christmas gifts, Randall Peltzer gave his son Billy (Zach Galligan) a cute little mogwai in the hit horror-comedy Gremlins. Too bad Billy not only gets it wet, but he also feeds it after midnight, breaking two of the cardinal rules of taking care of mogwai. (The third rule: do NOT make a sequel.)

Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

Silent Night, Deadly Night
© TriStar

The most notorious of the killer Santa movies, Silent Night, Deadly Night is actually nothing special as far as slashers go. It just came along at the wrong time and felt the brunt of a slasher-weary protest movement that didn't want to see a guy dressed as a Santa killing people. Go figure.

Child's Play (1988)

Child's Play

Like Gremlins, revolves around a Christmas present gone awry. Unlike a mogwai, though, the Chucky doll in Child's Play doesn't need to be fed after midnight to turn evil. He doesn't even need batteries.

Santa Claws (1996)

Santa Claws - Christmas horror movie
© E.I. Independent

It's hard to believe that James Russo, co-writer of the classic

Night of the Living Dead

, wrote and directed this cheesy, low-brow T&A-fest about a young man who, having killed his mother for giving a man dressed as Santa some "mistletoe action," dons a Santa suit and "slays" anyone who comes close to the adult film star he's stalking. And he uses a claw. Get it?

Feeders 2: Slay Bells (1998)

Feeders 2 - Christmas horror movie
© Sub Rosa Studios

Not that anyone watched the first

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

. In this ultra cheap version, the Martians are made of papier-mâché, and Santa packs heat.

A Christmas Nightmare (2001)

A Christmas Nightmare
© Lincoln Media Group

A few days before Christmas, a slain presidential candidate's campaign manager must go into protective custody when he himself is targeted for assassination. The assassin is soon the least of his worries, though, because the house in which he and his wife are hidden is haunted by the victims of a murder-suicide that happened on Christmas day 50 years ago. Solid low-budget direction can't save this film from its low-budget acting.

Dead End (2003)

Dead End - Christmas horror movie
© Lionsgate

This trippy,

Twilight Zone

-ish film follows a family driving to the in-laws for Christmas. If that isn't scary enough, they decide to take a short cut and end up on a road that leads to nowhere. Actually, if that means not reaching the in-laws, what's the big deal?

Santa's Slay (2005)

Santa's Slay - Christmas horror movie
© Lionsgate

Perhaps the most fun killer Santa flick of all time, Santa's Slay is the only one that pictures the actual Santa -- not some guy dressed as Santa -- as a murderer. (Imagine if this had been released in 1984, when Silent Night, Deadly Night came out.) It seems that Santa is actually the spawn of Satan and has only pretended to be nice for the past 1,000 years because he lost a bet with an angel. I heard the same thing about Jay Leno.

Black Christmas (2006)

Black Christmas
© Dimension

This odd but ambitious remake of the 1974 classic attempts to give a back story to the anonymous killer that includes incest and yellow skin (!). Yup, that would do it.

P2 (2007)

P2 - Christmas horror movie
© Summit

It's the most dangerous time of the year! Leaving work late on Christmas Eve, Angela (Rachel Nichols) is at the mercy of a deranged security guard (Wes Bentley) in her empty office building.

Wind Chill (2007)

Wind Chill - Christmas horror movie
© TriStar

Much like Dead End, Wind Chill finds people -- this time, a pair of college students (including Emily Blunt) -- heading home for Christmas, only to take a wrong turn and end up on a mysterious stretch of road that seems to have a mind of its own. The moral: don't go anywhere on Christmas Eve.

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale
© Oscilloscope

In this dark Finnish fable, an archaeological dig unearths the real Santa Claus, and he's not exactly a jolly ol' soul.

Saint Nick (2011)

Saint Nick - Christmas horror movie
© IFC Midnight

In this Dutch entry, Saint Niklas is a killer bishop who comes to Holland to murder children whenever there is a full moon on the 5th of December.

To All a Good Night (1980)


The only feature film directed by Last House on the Left villain David Hess, this slasher features a familiar genre premise: a killer dressed as Santa stalking a sorority a couple years after a prank-gone-wrong causes a student's death.

Elves (1989)

Elves - Christmas horror movie

Dan "Grizzly Adams" Haggerty stars an ex-cop turned store Santa who uncovers a plot by a neo-Nazi group to spawn a race of half-human, half-elf hybrids. Yes, really.

Jack Frost (1997)

Jack Frost - Christmas horror movie
© Ardustry

In this cult fave horror comedy set during the holiday season, a serial killer's run-in with toxic material causes him to fuse with snow and turn into a psychotic snowman seeking revenge on the lawman who arrested him.

One Hell of a Christmas (2002)

One Hell of a Christmas - horror movie

Released from prison on Christmas Eve, an ex-con seeking to go straight finds himself drawn into supernatural goings-on when his buddy comes into possession of a mysterious artifact that can seemingly raise the dead.

Trees 2: The Root of All Evil (2004)

Trees 2: The Root of Evil - Christmas horror movie
© Razor Digital

This sequel to the campy killer tree movie Trees focuses on the next logical step in the conquest of Man by Tree: killer Christmas trees.

Silent Night, Zombie Night (2011)

Silent Night, Zombie Night
© Pacific

The holiday season isn't immune to zombie outbreaks, as the dead rise to walk (or rather, run) the streets of Los Angeles in this low-budget offering.

Silent Night (2012)

Silent Night - Christmas horror movie
© Anchor Bay

This very loose remake of Silent Night, Deadly Night shares only the basic concept of a killer dressed as Santa. This time, a serial killer stalks a small Wisconsin town, and it's up to a local deputy (Jaime King) to stop him.

A Christmas Horror Story (2015)

A Christmas Horror Story
© RLJ Entertainment

In this horror anthology, several supernatural tales unfold on Christmas Eve: a group of students become trapped in their high school after hours with an ominous entity; a family discovers the legend of the yuletide demon Krampus; a couple loses their son while shopping for trees and when they find him, he seems...different; and Santa battles a disease that turns his elves into zombie-like fiends.

Krampus (2015)

Krampus - Christmas horror movie
© Universal

The director of Trick 'r Treat switches holidays with the story of a family gathering at Christmas that takes a dark turn when their dysfunction conjures the demon Krampus.

Krampus: The Christmas Devil (2014)

Krampus: The Christmas Devil
© Viva

In this cheapie, authorities pursue a child abductor who could be the mythical demon Krampus.

Krampus: The Reckoning (2015)

Krampus: The Reckoning
© Uncork'd

Oh look, more Krampus! This time, a little girl's imaginary friend turns out to be the legendary demon, who sets out to punish naughty residents of her small town.