Christmas is often viewed as a time when people come together, look back at the year that was, and indulge in some festivities – a little food, a little drink, and plenty of merriment. But Christmas has also proved to be a popular setting for horror movies, with many pictures using the cheery tone of the season to create a breeding ground for terror.
In this post, I am providing a list of 20 Christmas horror movies to ensure you have some alternative viewing choices for the oncoming holiday season. The movies listed here range from truly terrifying pictures, to some macabre (but mostly harmless) family horror films you may wish to watch.
Black Christmas (1974)
First up is Black Christmas – a dark tale for the long winter nights, which tells the story of a group of sorority sisters, stalked by a mysterious killer. The movie has been remade multiple times, but this version (the original) is the one fans return to each year.
In Gremlins, gruesome creatures take over a small town in this hilarious black comedy from director Joe Dante. Set at Christmas, the movie offers up an alternative to some of the more frothy and lighter pictures in this list.
Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
In this cult slasher movie, a young man suffering from Christmas-related PTSD, dons a Santa Claus outfit and becomes a killer. The series spawned a collection of sequels and follow-ups, but here’s where it all started.
Dead of Night (1945)
A classic British anthology movie, featuring a collection of grisly tales of terror. Only one of these tales is Christmas-themed, but it is the appropriately titled The Christmas Party.
Jack Frost (1997)
A wintery comedy horror, about a serial killer who mutates into a killer snowman. Michael Cooney directs.
A dark, comical tale about ghosts and ghouls, Scrooged is a retelling of A Christmas Carol, updated for the ’80s generation. Not quite as scary as some of the other entries on this list, but it certainly has some creepy moments, as well as a brilliant turn from Bill Murray as a TV executive plagued by apparitions.
Wind Chill (2007)
Directed by Gregory Jacobs, Wind Chill is a supernatural horror film. The movie stars Emily Blunt and Ashton Holmes.
Dead End (2003)
In this French-directed, English language horror a dysfunctional family go on a road trip for the holiday season, with nightmarish consequences. Lin Shaye and Ray Wise star, with Jean-Baptiste Andrea and Fabrice Canepa on directing duties.
All Through the House (2015)
All Through the House is a Christmas-themed slasher movie starring Ashley Mary Nunes and Jessica Cameron. The movie focuses on a neighbourhood which is being terrorised by a faceless killer.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
In this macabre musical, the King of Halloween Town, Jack Skellington, discovers the wonderful world of Christmas Town, via the imagination of Tim Burton. Henry Selick directs, while the voice cast includes Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara, and Paul Reubens.
The Gingerdead Man (2005)
Gary Busey takes on the title role of the Gingerdead Man in this horror comedy from director Charles Band. The film tells the story of deceased serial killer, revived as a gingerbread man.
Dark, twisted, and very, very funny, Krampus is holiday horror about a family who are tormented by a demonic spirit. Not one for the kids or those who get scared easily, but Krampus is a treat for everyone else.
Santa’s Slay (2005)
A horror comedy from writer/director David Steiman. Santa’s Slay stars Bill Golberg and tells of a murderous Santa.
Anna and the Apocalypse (2017)
John McPhail directs this British Christmas musical… about zombies. The movie stars Ella Hunt, Mark Benton, and Paul Kaye, and includes nods to the horror genre, while also being festive.
The Christmas Season Massacre (2001)
The Christmas Season Massacre is a horror comedy, set around Christmas time. D.J. Vivona, Jason Christ and Chris Belt star, Jeremy Wallace directs.
Inside (aka À l’intérieur) is a French invasion movie from directors Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo. The film follows a young pregnant woman who is attacked by mysterious stranger.
Don’t Open till Christmas (1984)
A British slasher movie about a mysterious murderer who is bumping off Santas. Edmund Purdom, Alan Lake and Belinda Mayne star.
Red Christmas (2016)
Dee Wallace takes the lead in an Australian horror movie from writer/director Craig Anderson. The movie focuses on a mysterious stranger who sets about on a killing spree at Christmas time.
Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972)
Theodore Gershuny directs a festive slasher movie about a series of murders taking place in a New England town. Patrick O’Neal, James Patterson, and John Carradine star.
Tales from the Crypt (1972)
And finally, in this British anthology film, five strangers take part in a series of horror tales. The festive story in this anthology comes from the Joan Collins-led segment, …And All Through the House.
I hope this list of Christmas horror movies has proved useful – and gives you an alternative to the likes of It’s A Wonderful Life (1946), and Home Alone (1990).
To save you some time from scrolling back through this post to make some notes, here is the list in full.
- Black Christmas (1974)
- Gremlins (1984)
- Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
- Dead of Night (1945)
- Jack Frost (1997)
- Scrooged (1988)
- Wind Chill (2007)
- Dead End (2003)
- All Through the House (2015)
- The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
- The Gingerdead Man (2005)
- Krampus (2015)
- Santa’s Slay (2005)
- Anna and the Apocalypse (2017)
- The Christmas Season Massacre (2001)
- Inside (2007)
- Don’t Open till Christmas (1984)
- Red Christmas (2016)
- Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972)
- Tales from the Crypt (1972)
And if you would like to read more horror-themed posts, check out the recommended reads below.
- Review: #Alive
- Remembering Ultraviolet – the British vampire television series
- How many House movies are there?