It’s the holiday season. A time for cheery markets, dazzling light displays and festive activities. Christmas is synonymous with cheer, tranquility and light but there’s no harm in mixing things up a bit. An infusion of horror in regular Christmastime festivities ensures things stay interesting. From killer Santas to angry Krampuses, blood-sucking vampires and everything in between, these 13 Christmas horror movies are worth a watch to satisfy the grinch within you.
1. Black Christmas, 1974
This slasher tale follows a group of college girls who are stuck together in a sorority house over the holidays. They’re terrorised by a masked stalker who goes on a killing spree until they decide to fight back.
This gory, slasher movie was directed by Bob Clarke, also the director of the delightful and heartwarming A Christmas Story, made 10 years later. Since its release, the movie has reached cult status and is often referred to as one of the greatest horror films ever made and an early example of slasher films from that era.
2. The Lodge, 2019
This superb psychological horror film has very little cheer and lots of spine-chilling scares. Riley Keough stars as a woman who takes her fiancé’s kids to his vacation cabin for a few days during Christmas. She soon starts experiencing strange events that lead her to question her own sanity.
3. Krampus, 2015
Nothing is scarier than forced family get-togethers as is evidenced by this bizzare, twisted tale that takes on the ancient myth of Krampus.
The movie follows a dysfunctional family and their constant quarreling which leads to a young boy losing his interest in Christmas. This in turn awakens Krampus, a demon who now seeks to punish his entire family.
The movie is great fun for a non-traditional movie night with the family and stars a surprisingly strong cast including Adam Scott and Toni Collette.
4. Wind Chill, 2007
Two college students share a ride home for Christmas, get stranded on a remote highway after taking a shortcut and become the prey of ghosts who have died on the same deserted stretch of road.
This spooky story is perfect for those with a penchant for eerie, atmospheric horror.
5. Gremlins, 1984
If you enjoy dark comedy, you don’t have to look further than the Steven Spielberg-produced Gremlins. The story follows a young man who receives a pet from China with three simple instructions. His failure to follow these instructions leads to a bunch of small, destructive monsters getting unleashed. The movie was criticised for its use of violence in a children’s story but if you can look past that, it’s good fun with excellent practical effects.
6. Silent Night, 2021
A more recent addition to this list, Silent Night features a group of friends who reunite for a Christmas celebration before things go wrong. The movie centers around an environmental apocalypse so there’s some end-of-the-world elements to be enjoyed.
7. A Christmas Horror Story, 2015
The town of Bailey Downs is plagued with every imaginable evil in this anthology horror film which has a little something of everything
From malicious evil spirits to zombie elves, Krampus and even a bit of family drama. It’s especially fun for those who enjoy the anti-Santa trope with an epic final showdown between Santa Claus and the Krampus.
8. Anna and the Apocalypse, 2017
Killer zombies, Christmas musicals and comedy combine in this feel-good Scottish Christmas movie. While it’s not traditionally horror, it’s heaps of fun to watch a bunch of teens singing and slashing their way out of a zombie attack.
9. Silent Night, Deadly Night, 1984
This psychological slasher film follows an orphan raised by runs who goes on a killing spree in a Santa costume. The film received some flak for featuring a killer Santa Claus but has since developed a huge fan base and even spawned a series of sequels and a reboot on its way this year.
10. The Gingerdead Man, 2005
An evil Gingerbread man comes back to life after being created from a mix of gingerbread spice mix and the ashes of a dead, convicted serial killer in this comedy slasher film.
It’s admittedly silly and dumb but that hasn’t stopped it from gaining a cult following and a bunch of sequels.
11. Jack Frost
Not to be mistaken for Michael Keaton’s fantasy comedy film by the same name, this iteration of Jack Frost features a mutant snowman, a bizarre accident and a lot of bloody murders. Frost’s weapon? His carrot nose. Low-budget, ridiculous cinema that’s so bad, it’s good.
12. Red Snow
What’s a list of horror movies without some bloodthirsty vampires on the prowl? In Red Snow, a struggling vampire romance novelist is forced to defend herself against actual vampires over the Christmas holidays.
It’s bad enough having to work during the holidays, imagine dealing with a psychopath in the parking lot who won’t let you leave. Fair warning: this one comes with a lot of gore but if you enjoy a classic cat-and-mouse chase, you won’t be disappointed.