Holiday movies teach us important lessons about family and good will towards all men. But what about the truly important lessons like “Run!” or “Don’t walk slowly towards whatever that noise is!” and “No, seriously, RUN!” Horror movies have added danger to almost every holiday, and Christmas is no exception. But before you settle in for IFC’s Nightmare on Elm Street movie marathon, check out some movies that put the “ho ho no!” in horror.
7. Silent Night, Deadly Night (1985)
This grisly 1985 flick is the most famous Christmas-themed killer movie ever made thanks to an immense public backlash at the time of its release, which of course turned it into a cult horror favorite. Young Billy is traumatized by a criminal killer dressed as Santa Claus and, with the glorious inevitability of horror, later decides that the Killer Claus was on to a good thing and tries it out himself.
6. Silent Night (2012)
The inevitable modern reboot of Silent Night, Deadly Night dropped the deadly but added a flamethrower. And that’s a trade any horror movie fan can get behind. A homicidal Santa is taking out the naughty, but the tide turns when the hero gets their hands on something even better than a roaring log fire.
5. Santa Claws (1996)
Santa Claws was filmed in 1996, and it’s surprising it really took that long for someone to make that pun. The titular killer hunts down his target’s friends and co-workers with his eponymous claws. The movie is also known as ‘Tis the Season, and the tagline insists that “His Slay Bells Are Ringing,” because you can never have too many Christmas puns.
4. Santa’s Slay (2005)
Santa (played by wrestler Bill Goldberg) is revealed to be a demon from hell, defeated at curling by an angel and forced to bring presents to the pure for a thousand years. Now time has run out and the demonic Claus has a lot of evil to catch up on and proceeds to wreak havoc with his “hell-deer.” This is a movie that exists, people.
3. Sint (2010)
This dark Dutch horror comedy stars Sinterklaas as the spirit of a corrupt gang-leading bishop who was killed by fire on a full moon, and is therefore empowered by at least four different horror classics. A childhood survivor of a previous rampage, now a police officer, must protect a town from this evil spirit — even as everyone is dressed in the same disguise for the Sinterklaas celebration.
2. Christmas Evil (1980)
Christmas Evil is another cult classic, predating the more famous Silent Night, Deadly Night with an almost identical setup. A child is traumatized by seeing his mother getting racy with “Santa,” then ups the symbolism even further by cutting his own hand with glass from a shattered snow globe. Later he’s convinced himself to become the “real” Santa, sleeping in costume and spying on neighbors to judge them naughty or nice. But this Klaus delivers a hatchet instead of coal.
1. Black Christmas (1974)
The original Black Christmas is one of the original slasher horrors, with a gaggle of sorority sisters picked off by an unknown killer back before that was a horror movie cliché. The film also has one of the earliest fake-outs in the genre, with the police happily counting the case closed only for the final notes to reveal that he’s still at large — and still hunting the survivor. Director Bob Clark would go on to make A Christmas Story, a decidedly less disturbing holiday tale unless you have a lifelong fear of getting your tongue stuck to an icy pole.