Tis the season for spiced eggnog, candy canes, and of course, Christmas horror movies. Compared to Halloween, there aren’t as many options, but with multiple streaming services now available, there a few gems worth checking out this year. So warm yourself by a yule log and spend the month of December checking out some of my recommendations below.
Black Christmas (1974/Directed by Bob Clark) This Canadian film about a group of sorority girls stalked by a stranger is a sheer classic. Many slashers that followed this, especially John Carpenter’s Halloween, owe a debt to Black Christmas for some of the techniques it used, namely the killer’s POV. Before you see the remake later this month, watch the original. A special yuletide kudos goes to Margot Kidder for playing Barb, the sorority sister who drinks and swears with the best of them.
Deadly Games (aka Dial Code Santa Clause/1990/directed by Renee Manzor) This bonkers French film deserves to be seen, and now that it’s available on Shudder, it should find a wider audience. Its 9-year-old protagonist Thomas (Alain Lalanne) is reminiscent of a certain blonde-haired kid from Home Alone because of the way he booby traps his house against a crazed Santa Clause, but make no mistake, this is NOT a kid-friendly movie. This movie features one terrifying Jolly O’ St. Nick whose facial expressions alone will give you nightmares long after the credits roll.
Better Watch Out (2017/directed by Chris Peckover) It’s best if I don’t spill too much about this film because it has a lot of turns. In short, the film follows 12-year-old Luke (Levi Miller), who has a crush on his 17-year-old babysitter Ashley (Olivia DeJonge). After she rebuffs him as he tries to make a move as they watch a horror movie, strange things start to happen, indicating there’s someone who has a sinister motive. This one, especially its ending, is not for the squeamish.
Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984/Directed by Charles E. Sellier Jr). Are there any horror fans who haven’t seen this popular holiday slasher about little Billy who grows up to be a murderous Santa? If not, what are you waiting for? Stream this one and its first sequel. Skip the later movies.
Gremlins (1984/Directed by Joe Dante) This is another one that most folks have probably seen, but it’s my favorite Christmas movie. Is there anything cuter than Gizmo wearing a Santa hat and playing the keyboard in Billy’s (Zach Galligan) bedroom? I don’t think so! Even if you’ve seen this movie 100 times, it’s always worth a re-watch. Fun fact: Joe Dante wanted the film to lean into its horror elements more. One of the initial scripts called for the Gremlins to behead the mother and bounce her head down the stairs like a basketball. What could have been….