What are the best Christmas horror movies? The holidays are a time of giving and cheer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a bit of gory fun too. Holiday-themed movies dominate December time, and the horror genre is no different, letting fans celebrate Christmas in their own morbid way, typically showing a darker version of standard holiday traditions and stories.
From murderous Santas invading chimneys to serial killer snowmen, or gift-wrapped monsters waiting eagerly underneath the decorated tree – Christmas horror movies are some of the most fun and original holiday films you can watch. But a truly enjoyable Christmas horror movie isn’t the easiest to find, and there are plenty of sub-par, or dare we say messy flicks, horror fans have to sift through before finding a quality choice for their festive movie night.
Well, fear not, if you are hoping to be fully terrified and possessed by the spirit of Christmas this year, The Digital Fix has got you covered. From age-old classics to some sleek modern titles, we have scouted which holiday horror movies are the best of the best. So grab some eggnog and lock your doors – here is our list of the best Christmas horror movies of all time.
What are the best Christmas horror movies:
- Black Christmas
- Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale
- Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2
- The Lodge
- Anna and the Apocalypse
- Jack Frost
- The Day of the Beast
Black Christmas (1974)
The film that inspired John Carpenter’s legendary Halloween movies, Black Christmas, is a straight slasher classic. Based on ‘the babysitter and the man upstairs’ urban legend – the story of a babysitter receiving a phone call from a killer in the house – Black Christmas shows a terrifying holiday home invasion that’ll keep you up at night.
During a Christmas party at a sorority, a murderer sneaks into the attic of the house and then goes about killing anyone he can find. The flick is full of gruesome action, heart-racing suspense, and was revolutionary for its time. It’s a horror movie any fan of the genre needs to watch at least once and stands as THE spooky Christmas pick for any movie night.
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)
Inspired by ancient Finnish folktales about good old jolly Saint Nick, Rare Exports is a delightfully horrific twist on a Yule tale. Here Santa Claus isn’t the friendly fat man we have all come to know but instead a figure of pure terror. Telling the story of a father and son duo who dig up a dark secret under an icy mountain – Santa’s tomb – the film is full of fantasy, suspense, and twisted cheer.
The action movie centres around the father-son duo trying to survive while a billionaire insists on finding then selling the mythical holiday figure on the black market. However, things aren’t that easy once the immortal evil Santa and ghastly looking elves rear their sinister heads. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale is inventive, full of tension and is easily one of, if not the most creative alternative takes on the dark folklore surrounding Father Christmas.
You can’t mention Christmas horror films without talking about the ’80s monster movie Gremlins. It is whimsical, darkly strange, and genuinely funny – what more could a festive horror fan ask for? Directed by Joe Dante and written by Chris Columbus Gremlins is all about Billy, who receives an adorable creature as a gift called Gizmo. Billy is told that while caring for his new friend, three crucial rules must never be broken – want to guess what happens?
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Surprise, surprise, the rules for looking after Gizmo are broken almost straight away, and the cute little creature ends up spawning some scary looking monsters that wreak havoc on the town during Christmas eve (lesson learnt never trust Billy). Although it is a scary movie for kids, Gremlins is timeless and enjoyable for everyone. Truly a stellar light-hearted horror for the whole family.
Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (1987)
Garbage day! Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 is a bizarre film that is, hands down, one of the most entertaining slasher movies you will see, period. Although fair warning – don’t watch the first Silent Night, Deadly Night film before this, since this sequel’s first half is basically an abridged version of the first movie. After his parents are killed by a man in a Santa outfit, and then seeing his brother turn into a Santa dressed mass murderer too, it is Ricky’s turn to grab the axe and fulfil his murderous Christmas destiny.
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Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 has amazingly strange and hilarious editing cuts, some of the best acting (bad acting, that is) you can see, and oodles of quotable lines. Like we mentioned, you don’t need to watch the first film to enjoy it, and if you are looking for a hilarious ’80s gem to add to your horror collection, you couldn’t ask for a better recommendation – trust us.
The Lodge (2019)
Christmas is thought to be a time for hot cocoa and family… that is, unless you are a character in a horror movie who can’t trust anyone. When a family goes to a winter cabin to celebrate the holidays, a tense psychological tug of war ensues. The Lodge sees the relationship between two siblings and their father’s new girlfriend fracture in one of the most atmospheric and dark ways imaginable.
Following their mother’s untimely death, two children find themselves snowed in with their dad’s new beau in their family’s old cabin for Christmas. The Lodge is an anxiety-inducing slow burn that will leave you breathless as mind games, starvation, and an unreliable narrator is exposed. Fair warning, this horror movie is bleak, so it may not be for you if you are looking for a gory Christmas pick me up. It is, however, fantastic and let’s be honest, the hostile familial relationships are a slightly more realistic portrayal of the holidays anyway (wink, wink).
Anna and the Apocalypse (2017)
Nothing says seasonal cheer like a musical. So what about a zombie movie musical with hordes of the undead storming a Christmas tree emporium. Following a group of teens living through a zombie outbreak during Christmas, Anna and the Apocalypse is like if High School Musical was set in an R-rated undead gorefest with tons of tinsel in the picture, too… and I mean, who wouldn’t be curious to see that, right?
The songs are annoyingly catchy, you get to see zombies wearing ugly Christmas sweaters, and the film is just straight-up fun. There are a few creative kills involving candy canes, so Christmas slasher enthusiasts brace yourself. If you are a fan of Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead, slapstick, and English black comedy humour Anna and the Apocalypse will be right up your street.
Inside is a brutal French horror movie that’ll leave you deeply unsettled come Christmas eve. After surviving a car crash that killed her partner four months prior, pregnant Sarah (Alysson Paradis) is preparing to give birth to her baby the following day. However, plans for a quiet night are scrapped when a mysterious woman knocks on Sarah’s door and demands to be let in. Cue some violent home invasion.
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The scissor wielding mystery stalker called La Femme (Beatrice Dalle) breaks into the house, and some top-tier eerie shadow work that can give John Carpenter’s Halloween a run for its money kicks off. La Femme tries to steal Sarah’s baby through a makeshift c-section while the expecting mother fights for her life. Directed by Julien Maury and Alexandre Baustillo, Inside is adrenaline-inducing, genuinely terrifying, and has some disturbing body horror even for New French Extremity cinema – so yeah, Merry Christmas.
Jack Frost (1997)
Here is a movie so ridiculous that it is impossible not to be entertained. Not to be confused with the 1998 family movie of the same name, this Jack Frost film tells the story of a serial killer who ends up possessing a snowman. After getting liquefied on the way to his execution by acid, the murderer Jack Frost’s essence is infused with snow, and yes, the horror movie is really as bonkers as it sounds.
Written and directed by Michael Cooney, the story is all about Jack seeking revenge on the cop who caught him in the first place, sheriff Sam Tiler. From terrible cheesy lines to chuckle-inducing “special effects”, Jack Frost’s strange spin on the holidays and B-level horror movie aesthetics may very well leave you in hysterics this December.
Speaking about holiday-themed cheesy films, it is time to talk about Krampus, the fantasy movie about an evil version of Santa granting wishes and abducting family members come Christmas eve. Let’s just say this straight off the bat, if you are a fan of Michael Dougherty, the pacing and story of Krampus isn’t as good as his past Halloween themed movie Trick ‘r Treat, but it is still fun nonetheless and a solid Christmas film.
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The film revolves around a boy who accidentally summons Krampus to his home, who then begins to terrorize his family. From Possessed toys to violent and armed gingerbread men, here is a campy and fun horror that is suitably themed for the season. In many ways, it feels like a Home Alone invasion story mixed with Stephen King-esque fantasy all tied up together in a PG-13 scary package.
The Day of the Beast (1995)
Tired of watching the typical nativity story over and over again during the holidays? Well, how about a horror-comedy movie about the anti-Christ being born on Christmas day instead? Directed by Alex de la Iglesia, The Day of the Beast centres around a priest who discovers that Satan’s son and the start of Armageddon is scheduled to hit at dawn on the 25th of December sharp.
In order to find out where the world-destroying birth will take place and stop it, the priest begins committing sins and listening to heavy metal to trick and commune with Satan for the needed information to save the world. Everything you’d expect from a Christmas film, such as good tidings, spreading cheer, and being nice instead of naughty, is hilariously flipped on its head in The Day of the Beast.
And there you have it. The best Christmas horror movies. If you are after more picks here is our list of the best horror movies of 2021.