Christmas is a time for joy and laughter while Christians commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ. As a result, movies around this time of the year focus on the themes of charity, love, and family, featuring jolly characters such as Santa Claus/ Saint Nicholas, elves, Jack Frost, and more. However, for the most part, where there’s good, evil lurks close by in the darkness. That being said, this article will focus on the top three Christmas horror movies.
But first, what makes a good horror film? Well, at the top of the list is a combo. First, the movie needs a good storyline. People want a movie that flows well, one that makes sense, and makes them think. Nothing makes a good storyline like a great plot twist: when watching a horror film, or any movie, the mind puts forth an expected ending while following the storyline. The best thing about a horror movie is predicting and being completely wrong, especially if the writers choose to throw in a plot twist that completely blows the minds of the audiences. The second most important element of a good horror movie is anxiety. Films like “Drag Me to Hell” (2009) and “Psycho” (1960) are great examples of the impact of this suspenseful feeling, especially if it ends in an ear-bleeding scream from a sudden pop-up. Lastly, there’s the appeal to fear with the use of make-up and visual effects to glue everything together. Now add some jingle bells and holiday music, and a Christmas horror movie is born.
Kicking off the list at number three is the unforgettable “Black Christmas” (1974). This movie featured a group of Pi Kappa Sigma girls living in their sorority house while preparing for the holidays. The girls are being terrorized by an unknown phone caller who is also the unnamed killer. After each murder, the phone calls seem to get creepier and creepier along with deaths by asphyxiation, hooks, sharp figurines, etc. ‘Billy,’ the suggested name of the caller, was quite the resourceful one. After involving the police and tapping the phone to locate the source of the call, the trope is revealed: “The calls are coming from inside the house!” When the final sorority girl is left, Pete, her boyfriend, and the suspected killer prevails and protects her until the second to last scene when he is stabbed to death by the killer. By the time police show up, the murderer had escaped, and Jess was left unconscious. By the looks of the crime scene, Jess killed Pete (the suspected killer) in an enraged defense of her life.
The best and worst thing about this movie is that it sets the stage for all “Scream” (1996) and “Scream”-themed films to come. It is best because it is the first movie of its kind; it’s the worst because it is no longer a new genre to the average viewer, so by this time, the whole creepy caller-killer theme seemed a bit played out. Nevertheless, a good storyline and a decent level of suspense in addition to a few mini-heart attacks plus a partial plot-twist made this movie pretty good watch.
Next on the list is none other than, the legendary “Krampus” (2015). Starring Emjay Anthony who plays the character of Max Engel, whose family is trapped in their home for the holidays as a terrible storm passes. At first, things seemed pretty normal with the drama typical of a dysfunctional family. But things took a turn for the worst, especially after Max makes a most regrettable wish. After a few attacks and kidnappings, Max’s grandmother, affectionately known as “Omi,” decides to share with everyone the tale of something that happened to her parents long ago, which she believes is what is occurring again tonight. Whether they believed or not, the “shadow of Saint Nicholas” and his elves, that “came not to reward but to punish; not to give but to take,” one by one, snatched Max’s relatives way. Near the end of the movie, Max finally faces Krampus and demands the return of his family, in exchange for him.
The storyline was coherent, the plot twist was a bit unpredictable, the feeling of suspense was average, and the appeal to fear was pretty decent as Krampus, and his elves were one ugly and creepy set of beings. With deranged gingerbread men and evil presents coming to life, this movie certainly puts a twisted and eerie meaning to the old saying ‘be careful what you wish for.’
Finally, the top spot goes to “A Christmas Horror Story (2015)!” Contrary to the regular, pig-snorting, bunny-suit wearing predicaments of Ralphie, this version of the Christmas story featured not one but five separate stories to follow. Each story had its unique turn on the regular celebrations of Christmas. This movie begins with a haunting story and ends with a killer!
Though not all connected, none of them failed to bring the thrill. The first story is centered around three teenagers that decide to investigate a double murder at their school that happened a while back but ends up in a similar predicament as they come face to face with the fifteen-year-old ghost responsible for the murders. The second story is about a family that goes on a trip to visit an old relative. However, the trip is soon suspiciously cut short by their great aunt after the purposeful breaking of a Krampus statue. On their way back home, they encounter some car troubles that force them to walk through the freezing snow. On their journey, they are soon attacked by none other than the anti-Christmas spirit himself. Fearing for their lives, they wind up in a church hoping that confessing their sins will save them from their death. The third story features what seems to be Santa Claus and his elves up in the North Pole preparing for the arrival of another eventful Christmas Eve night. While on break, Shiny, an elf, turns malicious and ends up having a fatal accident, disproving the belief that elves can’t die. Unfortunately, it seems as if he had a terrible disease, which soon spreads to others, resulting in killer zombie elves, whom Santa was forced to slay one by one. The final story featured a family of three, who trespassed into a private territory to get their dream Christmas tree. On the way back, their son goes missing but is later found. Unfortunately, by the time the son is found, the damage had already been done. From changeling’s kidnappings to possessions, rituals, horrid Krampus killings, and blood-crying Holy Mary statues to a faceoff between two spirits of Christmas, the suspense and appeal to fear were indeed exemplary. Plus, the storyline and plot twists were excellent because all four stories ended in their own sick, gruesome, and completely unpredictable ways. With the symphonic background music of “It’s Christmas Eve” as the cherry on top, this movie truly earned its place at the top of this list of holiday horrors.
Some honorable mentions include the classic 1984 creeper “Gremlins,” 1997’s “Jack Frost,” and “Elves” of 1989. Never seen some of these names before? Go check them out! Create and complete a to-watch movies list before the end of the holiday season.