Every family has their holiday traditions, and at my house, it was spending Christmas Eve with pizza and horror movies. It started innocently enough one year when my Mum and I were the last two awake in the house, trying to get things ready for the big day, so we ordered a pizza and watched the horror movies I’d rented while we finished wrapping gifts and whatever else needed doing. Does anyone else miss video stores? I know I do.
From there I made it my personal mission to find Christmas-themed horror movies. It wasn’t easy back in the 90’s but thanks to the internet there’s plenty to choose from now. Some are good, some are bad and some are really f*cking awful….just like Christmas.
12. Demonic Christmas Tree 
I’m going to start this list off with a newbie that’s in the ‘so bad it’s good’ category. Also known as The Killing Tree, the movie begins with an old lady using a plastic Christmas tree as part of a spell to resurrect her dead husband Clayton and then seems genuinely surprised when his soul ends up in the tree itself. Hell-bent on revenge, Clayton the demonic Christmas tree sets off to find Faith, the girl who survived their attack on her family and who he sees as responsible for his execution. I mean, maybe don’t go killing families and you won’t get the death penalty. Meanwhile, Faith is at her family home attempting to have a festive Christmas party with friends and about to relive her worst nightmare.
Is this super ridiculous? Yes. Did I laugh quite a bit though? Also yes. We have a plastic Christmas tree that can go grow Doc Oc style arm branches and goes around strangling people with Christmas lights. Make sure you wait it out until the end. That ending is the cherry on top for the weirdness!
11. The Advent Calendar 
For Eva’s birthday, her friend gifts her a wooden antique Advent Calendar she found at a German market. Sure it looks cool but I’m not sure I’d be shoving the candy into my mouth, who knows how old they are! The box also comes with a message telling Eva if you eat one candy, you must eat them all or die! If you don’t follow the rules you’ll die. If you dump the box you’ll die. Really, Eva might want to get some better friends because this present sucks.
10. Dead End 
The Harrington family is on their annual car ride to visit relatives for Christmas but tonight for the first time in 20 years, Frank has decided to take a shortcut that seems to lead to nowhere. On the way, Frank almost kills them all when he nods off at the wheel and as strange things happen during the night and secrets are revealed, they all seem to end up – one by one – in the back of a mysterious black car and found dead further up the road. This is a sombre horror-mystery that keeps the suspense going from start to finish and stars horror legend Lin Shaye.
9. Elves 
Personally, it’s not Christmas until I’ve watched Elves because it is the epitome of family dysfunction. The story focuses on Kirsten who is out in the woods one night doing a pagan ritual with friends when she accidentally cuts her hand and her blood awakens an evil force. Meanwhile, she isn’t having the greatest December of her life. Her mother despises her so much she gets great joy from closing her daughter’s bank account and killing her cat and Kirsten is about to find out her grandfather is actually her father..oh and he was a nazi that did experiments and she’s meant to procreate with the Elves to realise Hitler’s true dreams for a Master Race. You have to give this film props for creativity!
8. Lucky Stiff 
Directed by Anthony Perkins, this horror-comedy is about poor schmuck Ron who just got left at the alter by his bride-to-be. He decides to go on a holiday to get away from it all where he meets the beautiful and sophisticated Cynthia. Ron has had nothing but bad luck with women over the years and this one will be no different. While most men probably wouldn’t mind a woman wanting them only for their body, Cynthia comes from a long line of cannibals and she’s responsible for providing Christmas dinner.
There’s a few versions of this movie so if you want something that’s less comedy and more bloody violence there’s also Mercy Christmas .
7. Jack Frost 1997
Jack Frost is a serial killer being transported to his execution but the van collides with a genetic research truck that causes Jack to dissolve and fuse with the snow. Now Jack is back and able to return to his killing ways as a snowman.
One of the most ridiculous scenes in this film, and I know you’re probably thinking how does a movie about a killer snowman have only one ridiculous scene – but it involves Shannon Elizabeth who breaks into the sheriff’s house with her boyfriend, blow-dries her hair only to get into a bath and get it all wet again. She dies moments later when it’s revealed that Jack Frost melted into the bath water.
6. Santa’s Slay 
Like Jesus, Santa Klaus was the result of a virgin birth but Satan is the baby daddy. Every year on his birthday he’d go on a rampage but one year an angel laid a bet with him that if he won a round of curling, Santa would have to give up his day of slaying and hand out gifts every Christmas for the next 1000 years. Well now it’s 2005 and the Day of Slaying is back!
The opening scene stars Fran Drescher, Rebecca Gayheart and James Caan as the most obnoxious family dinner you’re ever likely to witness who all die horribly at the hands of Santa Claus. If that scene doesn’t peak your interest, you’re doomed because it’s hilarious.
5. Christmas Bloody Christmas 
I had no idea I needed a Christmas Terminator movie until this dropped onto Shudder last Friday. People always complain that robots are taking our jobs, but I guess nobody ever thought they’d take jobs away from old white men at Christmas time. The army invented a bunch of killer robots, which were then repurposed to be shopping mall Santas… what could possibly go wrong? Well, plenty can because they were recalled but one toy store still had theirs on display waiting to malfunction at any given moment.
I honestly thought this movie would be dodgy AF but it’s actually super fun and even little kids aren’t safe from a murderous robot. I loved that the Final Girl was a heavy metal loving record store owner who was quite opinionated on Christmas music and the superiority of horror sequels. This has everything you could need in a horror movie: sex, blood, dismemberment and explosions! The only downside was Santa was built with all these phrases and he never said one thing while killing people.
4. Letters To Satan Claus 
If you have a loved one who has made you suffer through a Hallmark movie, you can return the favour by making them watch Letters to Satan Claus. It’s your cliché Hallmark movie where a snarky Christmas-hating woman must return to her hometown for work where she’s reunited with her sister and some old love from her high school days and by the end of the weekend she’s had her faith in Christmas restored, found love and she’s fought off Satan who she accidentally wrote to as a child which resulted in her parent’s death. They’ve even thrown a Prince into the storyline because is it even a Hallmark Christmas movie if there isn’t a member of the royal family desperate to find love?
3. Secret Santa 
This is the family get together from hell as everyone descends at the Matriarch’s home for Christmas dinner where it’s clear nobody actually wants to be there and everyone is already taking stabs at each other before dinner has been served. To up the ante this year, someone drugged the punch with truth serum which sees all sorts of dark secrets coming to light during dinner resulting in one big fight. It’s a bloody battle to the finish!
2. Silent Night, Deadly Night 
There’s a theme amongst Christmas movies where someone with PTSD is triggered, puts on a Santa suit and goes on a killing spree. Silent Night, Deadly Night is probably my fav of this sub-genre because you really do feel sorry for the guy. Billy Chapman was only a little kid the night he saw his parents murdered by Santa Claus. Along with his baby brother, they are raised in an orphanage by an overbearing Mother Superior, who is constantly punishing him and forcing him to do things he’s not comfortable with because mental health care didn’t exist in the 80’s, you just had to toughen up and get over it. When he hits 18 he gets a job at a toy store and everything is going fine until he’s forced into wearing a Santa suit and eventually loses his shit completely on Christmas Eve.
1. Black Christmas 
Black Christmas has a fairly simple premise. A sorority house is having a party before they all parts ways for Christmas break and have no idea some crazed maniac has broken in and taken residence in their attic where he bumps off the girls one at a time.
My mum introduced me to this movie a couple of years before she died and it’s an absolute classic and just one of the reasons why manholes freak me out. Despite being over 40 years old, it’s more effective than a lot of modern-day horror that prefers to startle viewers with loud noises rather than build up the tension and create real scares.
There’s been two remakes – one in 2006 and the other in 2019. The 2006 version is perfect for those who need a dose of gore in their horror, but the 2019 version is just abysmal. Perhaps if it had a different name some of us horror fanatics might have felt differently about the movie, but the daily reminders of how feminist this was annoyed the sh!t out of me when the 1974 film has a group of strong women who drank, swore, took no shit from prank callers and the main character talked about her right to have an abortion. How much more feminism do you need? The 2019 version didn’t even come close. However, if you want to see a character dumber than the one from Halloween Kills who brought an iron to a fight…give it a watch.
Do you have any holiday must-watch movies? Let us know in the comments across our socials.
Written by Kim Anderson IG: @unpromisingyoungwoman
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