These 10 Holiday Horror Titles Should be on Your Shortlist
The holidays are right around the corner. And for most horror fans, that means plotting a watchlist of seasonally appropriate thrills and chills. Because we like you, we have taken some of the guesswork out of the proceedings and curated a list of ten flicks that should definitely be on your watchlist for this month and next.
Be forewarned that you will not see The Nightmare Before Christmas on this list because Tim Burton has previously clarified that it’s a Halloween film. Not a Christmas movie. But that certainly doesn’t mean the film isn’t also appropriate for viewing during the holiday season (or at any other time of year).
Without further ado, we present to you 10 holiday horrors that should be on your shortlist for seasonal scares!
Not only is Bob Clark’s Black Christmas considered one of the founding fathers of the slasher genre, it’s also something like the granddaddy of holiday-themed horror films. It captures the spirit of the holiday season and juxtaposes that with violent deaths and plenty of raunchy humor. This tale of sorority house carnage has been remade twice but the 1974 original remains by far the best adaptation.
There are so few Thanksgiving horror films. And even fewer that are really worth diving into. But Kristy stands head-and-shoulders above most of its contemporaries as an essential holiday horror flick. The film is atmospheric, frightening, effectively paced, and nearly impossible to get your hands on if you don’t own an all-regions player. Here’s hoping that Kristy will, someday, get the proper US release it so richly deserves.
Rare Exports is far from your typical holiday affair. But if you are fond of unsettling Yule Tide fare, you will find much to love about this spooky tale of Santa and his elves. Although, keep in mind that this story has more in common with Krampus the Christmas demon than it does with the Saint Nick that slides down chimneys with gifts in tow. This flick goes to some unexpected places. In one such instance, the viewer is accosted by the site of stark-naked senior citizens. But if that doesn’t put you off, there is plenty to enjoy about this Finnish holiday horror film that is as bizarre as it is beloved. If you haven’t seen it yet, check Rare Exports out. You may wind up adding it to your required viewing list for the month of December.
Silent Night, Deadly Night
This tale of a traumatized orphan punishing those on the naughty list riled up audiences before the film even made its way to theaters. It was prematurely pulled from cinemas due, in part, to angry mobs of parents with picket signs protesting the film’s existence. But (in the long-run) the controversy seems to have fueled interest in the flick, as is evidenced by the fact that it has become a fan favorite amongst genre film enthusiasts. And if you’ve seen it previously, you know why: Silent Night, Deadly Night is the perfect mix of camp and carnage. The kill sequences are memorable and the dialogue is quotable. This should definitely be on your short list for seasonal horrors!
Addams Family Values
This mixture of the macabre and (mostly) family-friendly chuckles is perfect for November viewing. The flick finds the Addams children at summer camp, where we see an unforgettable Thanksgiving play. The proceedings deviate from the ordinary and we see pilgrims burning at the stake, along with a more accurate account (delivered with perfect deadpan wit from Wednesday) of what really happened at the first Thanksgiving. Is it a Thanksgiving film? Not really. But with very little Thanksgiving-themed horror to choose from, Addams Family Values is a solid option.
This Christmas-themed horror film from Trick ‘r Treat director Michael Dougherty is a must-see. The film is delightfully dark and stands up to repeat visits. The pitch-black humor and Christmastime carnage make for a satisfying pairing. And the titular character delivers some memorable scares that are as sinister as the film’s dialogue is comical.
Better Watch Out
This home invasion film subverts expectations early and often. It is full of tongue-in-cheek wit and features a sinister performance from its central antagonist. Moreover, the flick boasts a strong and capable heroine in Olivia DeJonge (The Visit). It’s hard to say why this contemporary chiller hasn’t reached a wider audience. But it’s certainly a standout effort from director Chris Peckover that belongs on your holiday horror short list.
Joe Dante’s pint-sized killer creature feature is funny, memorable, and surprisingly dark at times. I’m not big on the sequel. But the original Gremlins film is a delight that never ceases to put me in the holiday spirit. So, it’s a natural choice for seasonally appropriate viewing.
Anna and the Apocalypse
Generally speaking, I will go out of my way to avoid watching a musical. But there are exceptions to almost every rule. And this is one such instance because even I can appreciate unlikely combination of a zombie musical set at Christmastime. The premise is every bit as outlandish as it sounds but director John McPhail leans into the inherent madness of the subject matter and the end results is a hefty helping of holiday fun.
A Christmas Horror Story
This unsung anthology film has been embraced by critics but hasn’t garnered the level of viewer appreciation a lot of the titles on this list enjoy. I can understand that, given the trailer and artwork didn’t really grab me when I first laid eyes on it several years back. But I can wholeheartedly say that A Christmas Horror Story belongs on your short list of holiday favorites. The vignettes are creepy, effective, and more than a little dark. And the wraparound segment with William Shatner as a radio host is great and ties the stories together nicely.
Honorable Mention: Blood Rage
The campy ‘80s slasher has also been released under the titles Nightmare at Shadow Woods and Slasher. But whatever name you know the flick by, this tale of an escaped mental patient stalking his mother and twin brother over the Thanksgiving holiday makes for essential November viewing. Blood Rage certainly has a cult following but still remains unknown to many. Check it out and you may just find that it satiates your taste for Thanksgiving-themed horror.