Christmas is a time of year associated with presents, good cheer, and depending on who you ask, a great deal of gore and monsters. There’s just something about the jolly holiday season that makes for excellent juxtaposition with the horror genre. There have been plenty of mash-ups and slasher flicks that take place around Christmas, and while most have schlocky, B-movie qualities, there are some diamonds in the rough. Here’s StudioBinder’s rankings of the best Christmas horror movies of all time!
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Scary Christmas Movies
20. Santa’s Slay (2004)
Sorry, but before we can get into the actually innovative films, there’s a lot of crud to get through. Let’s start with a film that has a relatively simple premise: Santa’s Slay. In it, Santa is the son of Satan who ends up going berserk and kills everyone, regardless if they were naughty or nice.
Santa’s methods are execution are appropriately goofy. At one point, he kicks a dog into a ceiling fan, and the dog comes back to hit him. It never fully descends into B-movie goofiness, which prevents it from being enjoyable as other bad Xmas horror films. But Santa is played by former WWE superstar Bill Goldberg for what it’s worth.
- The film ends with Bill Goldberg’s signature catchphrase in the WWE: “Who’s next?”
- Tomatometer: N/A
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Dark Christmas Movies
19. ATM (2012)
ATM takes itself far too seriously, and that works to its downfall. Three yuppies are trapped into ATM vestibule after a late-night office Christmas party, and they find themselves trapped inside by a psycho. Other people happen by that the psycho promptly dispatches, delivering on some horror thrills, but it ultimately rings empty.
This is the kind of bad movie that will have you screaming at your TV, saying things like, “Just park the car closer to the ATM!” That’s just one of the many easily-avoidable choices in the film, and eventually, it all just becomes more than you can handle.
Xmas Horror Movies
18. Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
“Santa going crazy” is a common plot premise among Christmas horror movies. Silent Night, Deadly Night was an early adopter of this concept, which sees Santa Claus murdering people left and right with axes, guns, and everything in between.It’s your standard slasher movie, which was par for the course for the 1980s. However, it lacks the same commitment and fun you see in more well-known films like A Nightmare on Elm Street. It’s not just stupid fun. It’s just stupid.
SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT
Reviewing Dark Christmas Movies
17. Sint (2010)
Sint plays around with the idea of a Krampus-like figure, but ultimately, it’s another bad Santa movie. The film grounds the evil Santa in Danish folklore. He was a murderer killed on December 5th by a gang of villagers, and whenever there’s a full moon on that date, he returns to wreak havoc on the villager’s descendents.Your enjoyment of Sint likely depends on your tolerance for some very un-PC elements, including a gratuitous use of blackface. While it seems like the film wants to say something about religion, it never manages to create any kind of coherent theme together.
List of Christmas Horror Films
16. The Gingerdead Man (2005)
We’re finally getting into the “so bad it’s good” territory. Gary Busey plays a killer who ends up getting the electric chair. His ashes are mixed with a gingerbread man recipe, and he returns to kill the woman who testified against him. It’s… absolutely bonkers, making it perfect if you’re up late at night and don’t want to think too hard about a movie.
You get exactly what you expect with this movie. The plot movies a bit slow, but otherwise, it’s good, dumb fun.
THE GINGERDEAD MAN
Creepy Christmas Movie
15. Jack Frost (1996)
Back in the days of Blockbuster, you had to be really careful you were renting the children’s film Jack Frost starring Michael Keaton and not the horror film that came out a year earlier.Jack Frost takes the same idea as The Gingerdead Man in taking the dumbest concept you can think of and just going to town with it. Your brain may melt faster than Frosty on a spring day, but depending on your sensibilities, you may get a chuckle out of it.
Best and Worst Christmas Movies
14. Dead End (2003)
World War Z (2013) is a mostly by-the-books zombie movie, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good. In fact, however much the film relies on tropes, it’s the great performances and impressive scale that elevates the film. Brad Pitt plays the role of Gerry Lane, the man who is basically tasked with saving humanity from the zombie apocalypse. He travels around the world searching for a cure, fighting on the ground and in the sky against the deadly infected humans. At times scary, but often thrilling, World War Z is a great 21st century zombie film that uses CGI well.
Scary Xmas Movies
13. The Children (2008)
Is there anything creepier than evil kids? During a Christmas vacation, a group of parents take their kids to a fun retreat, but slowly, the kids start turning on their parents.The Children is not overly violent, but it more than makes up for it by being genuinely unsettling for much of the runtime. The film makes for an interesting breakdown dissecting the deterioration of the nuclear family, and you may not look at your own kids the same way again.
List of the Best Christmas Horror Movies
12. Holidays (2016)
I love anthology films, and Holidays is a great one to watch any time of year. It’s made up of several short films, each one centered on a different holiday.
The Christmas segment is a stand-out in what’s ultimately a mixed bag of a film where Seth Green plays a dad trying to find his kid the perfect present. If you don’t watch it in time for Christmas, don’t worry. There’s a New Year’s segment to help you ring in 2020.
Best Scary Christmas Movies
11. Black Christmas (2019)
The most recent remake of Black Christmas manages to bring some much-needed timeliness to the classic holiday-themed slasher flick. It’s the first Black Christmas to have a PG-13 rating, but what it lacks in gore it makes up for in gender satire.
There are some ludicrous moments for sure, but it leads to a thoroughly entertaining third act. As far as remakes go, this ain’t a bad one.
Top 10 Xmas Horror Movies
10. Christmas Evil (1980)
Christmas Evil is not only scary. It also contains psychological horror, elevating it amongst others on this list. Yes, you still have a Santa killing people, but the movie dedicates time to explore the man’s life. It explores what would cause this man to commit such heinous acts, and it’s rather interesting.It effectively plays like Taxi Driver but with a department-store Santa. It’s more of a character study than straight horror film, making for a unique watching experience.
Scary Christmas Movies, Ranked
9. A Christmas Horror Story (2015)
It’s clear A Christmas Horror Story wants to be the Christmas-themed version of Trick ‘r Treat. While it may not reach those levels, it’s still pretty darn entertaining.
Five separate stories are woven together by a radio DJ, played by William Shatner. Each entry is pretty solid, and it all comes together in a bloodbath of a finale where Santa has to stop an elf zombie army.
A CHRISTMAS HORROR STORY
Slasher Christmas Horror Movies
8. Better Watch Out (2017)
Horror movies surrounding babysitters are plentiful, and yet, Better Watch Out manages to go past typical conventions. A babysitter has to defend the young boys she’s watching from home invaders.
Honestly, the less you know about the movie the better. It’s far more clever than the premise would suggest, so make sure to check out this underrated horror gem right away.
BETTER WATCH OUT
Best Christmas Horror Movies to Watch
7. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)
Rare Exports is a bizarre film. The remains of Santa Claus are dug up by a Scandinavian town, and slowly, the children of the town start to go missing. The film expertly blends horror elements with deadpan comedy to produce something you truly have never really seen before.There are a lot of evil Santa movies in the horror genre. However, none have ever gotten it quite as right as Rare Exports.
RARE EXPORTS: A CHRISTMAS TALE
Funny Xmas Horror Movies
6. Anna and the Apocalypse (2018)
Anna and the Apocalypse tries to do a lot. It’s a holiday-themed horror movie. It’s a musical. And it’s a touching tale of friendship. It mostly succeeds, making for the only movie on this list that will have you tapping your toes in delight.
Zombies threaten the town of Little Haven at Christmastime, and it’s up to Anna and her friends to save everybody. The film excels because it shows how you can bring new life to both zombie movies and Christmas horror flicks.
ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE
A Very Creepy Christmas Movie
5. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
It may not technically be a horror movie, but it’s definitely more disturbing than almost anything else on this list. It also takes place around Christmas, so we’re including it!Eyes Wide Shut is a tale of temptation and infidelity in a way only Stanley Kubrick could tell. If you’ve seen it, then you know how strange things get. If you haven’t seen it, then you have a very fun recommendation to throw your family’s way the next time you try to find a Christmas movie to watch together.
EYES WIDE SHUT
Ranking Scary Xmas Movies
4. Black Christmas (1974)
The original Black Christmas is one of the first slasher films. It came out before typical genre constraints would enter the public consciousness in the 80s, so it was a no-holds bar bloodfest.
The film follows a killer who stalks a sorority house, killing off the sisters one-by-one. This is the rare kind of slasher film that truly stands the test of time as the scares are just as terrifying as they’ve ever been. Once you see it, it will become a regular fixture in your Christmas-watching rotation.
Ranking the Best Christmas Horror Movies
3. Krampus (2015)
Joe Dante’s influences on Krampus are easy to spot. It has just enough satirical bite to make it stand above other holiday offerings, and there are ample frights that will make you wary of anyone wanting to come over to your house.If your kid starts acting up during the holiday season, Krampus is the film to show them. It’ll scare them straight to make them appreciate what they have or else the Krampus will come to take their family away.
Children’s Christmas Horror
2. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of the most impressive animated efforts ever put to film. You should know the story by this point, and if you don’t watch this movie at least once a year (Halloween or Christmas, your choice), then something is wrong with you.
It’s one of the only holiday horror movies you can watch with the kids. No matter how old you are, this film is a delight.
THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS
The Best Christmas Horror Movies
1. Gremlins (1984)
The Nightmare Before Christmas could’ve taken the top spot except that it’s just not that scary. Gremlins manages to encapsulate everything you want out of a horror movie with Christmas themes. It’s scary. It’s funny. And at the end of the movie, you’re put in the Christmas spirit.
It’s a zany creature feature in the best way possible. It’s also a scathing indictment of American consumerism, and really, what better message could a Christmas movie have? It’s just scary enough to fill you with fright, but you’ll still find yourself wanting to watch it again and again. It’s a fun, well-made film that hits all the right buttons when you’re a horror enthusiast at Christmastime.
Mastering the Christmas Movie
How exactly do you make a great Christmas movie? Whether you want to make a kids’ movie or a horror film, there are certain elements you need to give it a certain Christmas flair. Check out our collection of tips on mastering the Christmas movie palette.