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21 Christmas Horror Movies You Need to Watch This Holiday Season

From Santa Claus serial killers to cursed snowmen, these Christmas horror movies are sure to send a shiver down your spine.

Most people really get a kick out of listening to Christmas Pop and decorating their home with tinsel and Christmas lights. There's nothing like the sound of Christmas carolers singing through the streets...or the menacing laugh of Jack Frost. What about the smell of the Gingerdead Man and the haunting sight of Krampus?

It’s the most wonderful time of year—time for the Christmas horror movies of your nightmares. These holiday-themed flicks are sure to terrify while satisfying your Santa Claus needs. There's nothing like the 12 days of Christmas horror—with our list you have plenty! Terrifying snowmen, killer Santas, and more await your viewing pleasure.

Black Christmas

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  • Photo Credit: Dimension Films

Although the 2006 remake of Black Christmas is surprisingly worthwhile, the 1974 original is the king of Christmas slashers. When a sorority begins receiving threatening calls during a Christmas party, some of the girls brush off the scare. A precedent of Halloween—and a clear influence on John Carpenter's groundbreaking slasher film—the film follows an escaped maniac that returns to his home to find a sorority in its place. The unidentified caller elevates his tactics, and all too soon bodies begin to pile up. There's nothing like being home for the holidays. 

Related: Master of Horror: 10 Most Terrifying John Carpenter Movies 

Silent Night, Deadly Night

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  • Photo Credit: TriStar Pictures

When young Billy sees his parents’ murder on Christmas Eve, it traumatizes him for life. Raised by nuns, he's abused by the Mother Superior, but that's not what pushes him over the limit. His employment in a department store during Christmastime ultimately triggers Billy's PTSD; it leads Billy to start dressing as Santa Claus while murdering scads of people around town. After his time in retail, Billy's seen some horrors, and now he can decide who needs to be punished—including misbehaving kids. This flick has a deserved cult following. So ... have you been naughty or nice?

Silent Night

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  • Photo Credit: Vertigo Films

A loose remake of Silent Night, Deadly Night, this film takes its inspiration both from the 1984 flick and the real Covina Massacre of 2008, in which Bruce Pardo murdered nine people, then committed suicide during a Christmas party, while wearing a Santa suit. The film follows a masked Santa who goes on a murder spree, killing those he considers naughty. You are kept on the edge of your seat as you try to uncover—with Deputy Aubrey Bradimore—who the masked Santa is.

P2

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  • Photo Credit: Summit Entertainment

This terrifying stalker movie takes place on Christmas Eve but it's not all Christmas lights and eggnog. Angela is a beautiful, young businesswoman working in downtown Manhattan. She is imprisoned in the parking garage by obsessive loner Thomas. The psychotic security guard has been secretly stalking Angela, and has finally unleashed a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse. Don’t watch this if you ever want to listen to Elvis’ “Blue Christmas” with any pleasant feelings whatsoever.

Jack Frost

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  • Photo Credit: A-Pix Entertainment

Serial killer Jack Frost is on his way to be executed when his transport vehicle crashes, causing him to be reanimated as a snowman. Given another chance to kill, Frost goes after the sheriff that captured him. Frost wreaks havoc on the town of Snowmonton; he has a nose that functions as both a killing tool and a device to sexually assault his victims. There's murder, there's sex, and there's some interesting visuals to say the least. Equally terrifying and hilarious, Jack Frost has become a Christmas classic for many.

Related: 4 Eerie Olde Holiday Ghost Stories 

Don't Open Till Christmas

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  • Photo Credit: Nitehawk Cinema

Can't get enough truly scary Christmas movies? Check out Don't Open Till Christmas. When people dressed up as Santa are targeted by a terrifying killer, Inspector Ian Harris is baffled. The increasingly gruesome murders force him and the daughter of one of the victims to take matters into their own hands. You'll find yourself questioning who the masked killer is ... forget Santa's sleigh riding through the sky, this film has all the twists and turns you can handle.

Gremlins

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  • Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

This kid-friendly classic is perfect for a viewing with the family. Just as traumatizing for adults as it is for kids, you can’t go wrong with this creepy tale of mogwais. Randall Peltzer encounters the furry creature and decides to buy it as a Christmas gift for his son. When the store's owner, Mr. Wing, refuses to sell it, his grandson secretly sells it to Randall. Before handing off the mogwai, Randall is warned of never breaking three rules regarding the creature: never expose it to bright lights, never get it wet, and never feed it after midnight. All three end up happening and what follows is a chaotic Christmas.

Related: 10 Scary Children’s Books That Still Creep Us Out as Adults 

Krampus

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  • Photo Credit: Legendary Entertainment

This 2015 flick conjures the spirit of Gremlins to make a holiday horror for the whole family. When Max’s family comes over for Christmas, everyone teases him for still believing in Santa. The family's loss of Christmas spirit conjures the Krampus—a Yuletide monster that makes the Grinch look like a child's play. This creature comes from a European folk tale about a demon who stuffs naughty children in his sack and either beats them or eats them. Krampus is usually a companion for Santa Claus, but in this film there is only room for one. Instead of searching for naughty children, he is hungry for anyone who has lost their holiday spirit. It's not enough to be on the nice list. 

Silent Night, Zombie Night

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  • Photo Credit: Velvet Hammer Films

This low-budget zombie movie features an outbreak a week before Christmas turning all of Los Angeles into cheerfully themed zombies. Frank Talbot—an L.A.P.D officer—is on the brink of severing ties with both his wife and longtime partner, but instead they find themselves trapped by zombies and trying desperately to survive. While death quickly closes in, both men also realize that they love the same woman. Not the greatest of holiday horror, but worth a watch if you’re into B-movie zombies.

The Gingerdead Man

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  • Photo Credit: Suns Cinema

Gary Busey as a crazed killer/gingerbread man? Sign us up! Millard Findlemeyer, a psychotic killer who massacred the Leigh family, is arrested and sentenced to die in the electric chair, After the execution, Millard is cremated, and his ashes are sent to his mother. Millard's mother is a witch and she mixes the ashes with a gingerbread mix and leaves it on the doorstep of the surviving Leighs' house. It doesn't take long before the gingerbread comes to life, ready to torment and kill. This bizarre horror comedy is a holiday tradition in many a household.

Related: ‘Tis the Season for ... Murder: 6 Winter True Crimes 

The Children

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  • Photo Credit: Vertigo Entertainment

Two families decide to spend the New Year at a secluded home. Unfortunately, just before New Year’s, all of the children in a small town are affected by a strange virus. Soon, the virus begins showing itself in other, more violent ways. The movie taps into the image of the "demon child" by depicting the children in disturbing and creepy aspects. The Children is an intense ride filled with dark humor and unpredictable mayhem focused on children that are really running the show. 

Related: 8 Terrifying Books About Murderous Children 

ATM

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  • Photo Credit: Buffalo Gal Pictures

David offers his work crush a ride home from the office holiday party, only to find himself saddled with another coworker, Corey, who insists on stopping at an ATM for cash. Corey encounters card problems, but when David and Emily try to help him troubleshoot, they find themselves all trapped inside by a hooded figure. A simple transaction becomes a struggle for survival as the temperatures dip and the three find themselves without any mode of communication. It might be warm inside, but this film will send shivers down your spine.  

Santa's Slay

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  • Photo Credit: Media 8 Entertainment

This Santa Claus horror movie stars wrestler Bill Goldberg as the not-so-jolly chap. This terrifying iteration of Santa was born of Satan, through a virgin birth meaning that Santa is the Antichrist. According to the film, Christmas was the day of slaying for Santa until A.D. 1005 when an angel defeated him in a match and sentenced him to deliver presents. That meant Santa was bounded not to kill anyone until 2005—coincidentally, the year of this film. Freed from his sentence to deliver Christmas gifts instead of murders, Santa goes hog-wild, killing people around the world.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

holiday horror movies
  • Photo Credit: Touchstone Entertainment

Alright, this is not a Christmas horror. But The Nightmare Before Christmas will satisfy your need for creep factor and Christmas joy in one fell swoop. The adventurous skeleton, Jack Skellington—King of "Halloween Town"—stumbles through a portal to "Christmas Town" and decides to celebrate the holiday on his own terms. Jack transforms people's living rooms into haunted houses on Christmas Eve and assigns the citizens of Halloween Town Christmas-themed jobs. So go ahead and watch this unofficial holiday classic.  

Related: 15 Brilliant and Creepy Horror Movies You May Not Know About but Need to See  

Better Watch Out

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  • Photo Credit: Storm Vision Entertainment

The most recent addition to this list, Better Watch Out elevates the babysitter/serial killer tropes of horror movies by adding a dash of Christmas. This psychological horror effortlessly combines many of the Christmas horror sub-genre elements. Think intense gore in a setting filled with holiday decorations. There is even one scene that references the swinging paint can from Home Alone. It's over the top and fun, but easily maintains its horrifying thrills till the end. 

Holidays

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  • Photo Credit: Collider

This anthology feature film puts a unique and dark spin on some of the most beloved holidays. With shorts inspired by holidays ranging from Father's Day to Halloween, the directors of each segment manage to pull terror out of every commonplace celebration. In Scott Stewart's "Christmas," a father is desperate to get his son VR glasses, no matter the cost. A surprising twist will leave you wondering if your eggnog has affected your processing abilities.

Rare Exports

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  • Photo Credit: Roger Ebert

In northern Finland, there is a company that traps wild Santa Clauses before training them and exporting them around the world. On Christmas Eve, there is an archeological dig that uncovers the real Santa Claus—turns out he's not so jolly. The local children begin to mysteriously disappear, so now it's up to little Pietari and his father Rauno to capture Santa. However, the elves will stop at nothing to free their leader. The film is original and daring with heaps of suspense ... happy holidays!

Related: Grýla and The Yule Lads: Iceland’s Terrifying Christmas Tradition 

Sint

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  • Photo Credit: Horror News

Would it really be Christmas without Santa Claus? You know, that murderous bishop that kidnaps and murders children. In Dick Maas's reimagining, a dark origin story reimagines the chuckling St. Nick into something more terrifying. In the film, Niklas—aka Santa Claus— is a gang leader/ bishop who supervised a reign of terror in his village. On December 5th, villagers finally banded together to defeat Niklas and lynch him. Niklas won't go down easy, swearing vengeance on the villagers' descendants. Now, Niklas returns from the grave to wreak havoc when a full moon graces December 5th once again.

A Christmas Horror Story

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  • Photo Credit: Medium

This anthology horror film has four different stories drawn together with a framework featuring William Shatner as a radio DJ. There's ghost possession, clone doppelgangers, Krampus, and zombie elves—just to name a few of the horrors that populate this Yuletide bash. Let's not forget the age-old battle between Santa and Krampus, complete with action-packed battle. Still not convinced? There's a scene where Santa beheads one of his elves with his golden staff, before using that same severed head to beat another elf to death. Easily worth the price of admission.

Related: Happy Holidays from the Devil: 19 Freaky Krampus Cards

Eyes Wide Shut

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  • Photo Credit: GeekTyrant

Although it may not be frequently associated with the holidays, Eyes Wide Shut's Christmas setting makes it qualify for our list. Beginning at a Christmas party, Bill Hartford (Tom Cruise) descends into a bizzarely sexualized rendition of A Christmas Carol. The Christmas trappings of the film signal its preoccupation with the idea of rebirth, as Hartford journeys through an Illumunati underworld (complete with a backwards rendition of "Here Comes Santa Claus") to reconnect with his wife.

Elves

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  • Photo Credit: Horror News

They don't make Christmas horror movies like this anymore! This film follows a young woman that discovers an evil Nazi experiment. The small group of Nazis have remained devoted to their cause of fostering a master race and have created a plan in hopes of achieving their goal: force one specially chosen virgin to breed with magical elves on the midnight of Christmas Eve. Terrible puppetry aside, you'll find yourself dastardly entertained by murder and Christmas alike.

Featured still from "Krampus" via Legendary Entertainment



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