Seven Holiday Horror Films to Scare the Entire Family

During the holiday season many of you like to watch the “classics.” The “Masses” watch films like It’s A Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol, White Christmas, and many, but some folks like to be a bit more adventurous in your viewing. Here is a list of some bloody, gory holiday horror classics that are sure to thrill AND scare the bejesus out of you.

Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972)


Jeffrey Butler inherits his familial mansion, which was once a mental hospital. He sends his attorney John Carter, play by Patrick O’Neal to sell the Butler Mansion. He wants the property sold for $50K by the following day. To accomplish such a feat the lawyer must meet with the town elders to get approval. Once the meeting has taken place Carter and his assistant – with whom he is having an affair with – go back to the mansion to have sex and stay the night. What the pair are unaware of is that they were not the only ones in the house and they are killed by a mysterious person. The killer calls the police and reports the murder and leaving the name Marianne. It is revealed that the mansion was full of more than crazy people and the town elders are not all that they seem. Incest, madness, and murder are the name of this game. This holiday horror also stars cult actress Mary Moronov and John Carradine. If you inherit a house, do your research to make sure it’s safe!

Black Christmas (1974)


Next out of the bag of holiday horror fun, Black Christmas. The film stars Olivia Hussey (known for her role as Juliet is Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet – 1968), Margot Kidder, Keir Dullea (2001: A Space Odyssey), and John Saxon. This Canadian psychological thriller is not for the faint of heart. It is the story of a group of sorority sisters start receiving threatening phone calls and are being stalked my an unknown assailant at Christmas time. What they don’t know is that the murder is hiding in the attic of their sorority house waiting to pick them off one by one. It’s not a Happy Christmas for these Canuck ladies.

Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)


Little Billy Chapman witnesses the gruesome murder of his mother and father by a deranged criminal dressed in a Santa suit. He and his infant brother are spared by the murderer and sent to an orphanage where they were physically and mentally abused by the Mother Superior. When Little Billy turns 18 he leaves the orphanage and finds a job in a local hardware store. He is determined to have a normal life and even develops feelings for his co-work Pamela. His life of normalcy is short-lived when Christmas time rolls around and his new employer forces him to dress as Santa for the party. No one has any idea that this event will bring back memories of his parent’s murder and set into motion a gruesome killing spree. Don’t go anywhere near this Santa.

Christmas Evil (1980)


When little Harry was just a boy he saw “Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” and it forever changed his outlook on life. Fast-forward years later to an adult Harry who works in the Jolly Dreams Toy Factory as a low-level employee. He lives in an apartment decorated for the Christmas holiday all year-round – complete with toys. He spies on the neighborhood kids noting which ones are naughty and nice. Harry attends his company Christmas party and upon his return home he comes to realization that everyone thinks he’s joke and they used him at every turn. This moment of clarity drives him over the edge and he has a breakdown. In his delusion he thinks that he’s the real and true Santa Claus and will punish all those on his naughty list. You better watch out!

Gremlins (1984)


A quintessential holiday horror classic. The story of inventor Randall Peltzer and his desire to give his son a new and unique gift for Christmas goes wrong. He finds an old antique store and stumbles across a little furry creature called a Mogwai. When he asks the owner to buy him he refuses, but his grandson sells him the Mogwai, Gizmo, behind his back. The grandson does however give him strict rules for Mogwai care and ownership. Rule 1: Don’t put it near light, especially sunlight, it can kill them. Rule 2: Don’t let it get wet with water nor give it any water to drink nor bathe it. And, Rule 3: No matter how much it cries or begs, NEVER feed it after midnight. All these rules are followed until water Gizmo is exposed to water and spawns additional Mogwai and terror begins. This film goes a long way to prove a point: Some rules are meant to be followed.

Jack Frost (1997)


Not to be mistaken with 1998’s Christmas dramedy of the same name, THIS is the dark story of Jack Frost (Scott MacDonald) a serial killer on route to his execution when his transport collides with a chemical truck full of genetic material. During his escape Jack comes into contact with the chemicals which melt his flesh and bones. He dies and his remains mix with the snow. Even though Frost is determined to be dead, the Sheriff, Sam Tiler, continues to be uneasy about it all. He remembers the threats that Jack made about revenge. Not long after the accident Old man Harper is found murdered, a shortly there after a local bully and his gang. The Sheriff’s fears are substantiated when his son tells him that a snowman was responsible for the deaths. The snowman isn’t a ‘Jolly Happy Soul’ and he sure ain’t like our old friend Frosty. This film will make all your holiday horror nightmares come true.

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)


A group of reindeer herders living near Korvatunturi Mountain in Finland discover hidden story of Santa Claus. This film – based on a 2003 short of the same name – follows the ‘herders’ as their Christmas is disrupted by excavation taking place on the mountain. A scientist working on the project orders his crew exhume the “largest burial mound in the world,” but what they do not know is that the inhabitants of the grave are still alive. Not long after the opening of the grave site the local reindeer population is killed off and children and supplies start to disappear around town. The thing that emerged from the earth is a supernatural entity that punishes naughty children instead of reward them. If you want to give the kiddies nightmares and/or scare them straight let them take a look at this. Screw the Elf on the Shelf!

If you’re tired of the old “fell good” films of the season, you will surely enjoy these holiday horror classics!  Have a Silent Night, Scary Night, y’all!

Khuwailah Beyah
Khuwailah Beyah
Khuwailah "Cookie" Beyah hails from North Carolina. She is a pop culture nut and loves all things Nathan Fillion. Ms. Beyah has a passion for the macabre and the horror genre. She serves on the "Nevermore Film Festival" selection committee in Durham, NC and attends several comic and horror conventions each year. She holds an MA from Duke University, but is a dyed in the wool North Carolina Tar Heel fan! She also enjoys writing and reading creative non-fiction.

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