Gizmo from Gremlins
photo: Amblin Entertainment

When it comes to Christmas movies, your favorite is almost definitely the one you watched year after year with your family growing up. And since most families are pretty basic, there's a good chance that favorite is "A Christmas Story," "Christmas Vacation,"  or "It's a Wonderful Life." Some variation of "A Christmas Carol" and  "Miracle on 34th Street," will be in there — if you real nasty (and born after, say, 1997) your top picks are "Home Alone," or "Elf". 

If you're anything like me, though, these timeless tales of true love and the selfless human spirit triumphing on Christmas Day are ringing just a little bit false right now as the world descends into chaos. 

Also if you're anything like me, you love watching Santa Claus murder people, and should definitely check out these 14 Christmas horror "classics" if you want to ditch the holiday cheer and revel in some good old fashioned mayhem on Christmas Day:



What it's about: A 1980s small town teen named Billy gets an adorable pet monster, Gizmo, for Christmas from Chinatown, because the '80s were nothing if not racist. Soon enough, Billy's life descends into mayhem as Gizmo spawns an army of mischievous, murderous Gremlins hell-bent on ruining Christmas for everybody.

Scariest moment: When you think the dog might die.

You should watch if: If you like your Christmas horror with a hearty dose of black humor. 


"Gremlins 2: The New Batch"

What it's about: Same as above, only Billy works in a New York office now and for some godforsaken reason, all of the Gremlins have themes, like The Googly-Eyed Gremlin and The Lady Gremlin.

Scariest moment: Anything with The Lady Gremlin, who is almost definitely a rapist.

You should watch if: You think Gizmo is cute, but also think the first "Gremlins" is too dark and murder-y. There's a huge tonal shift from black humor to screwball comedy, here.


"Black Christmas (1974)"

What it's about: A serial killer picks off sorority sisters one by one in the days before the holidays.  

Scariest moment: When the film's heroine comes face-to-eyeball with the killer through a door ... or when he prank calls her. It's a trope that's been repeated in numerous horror movies since (hi, "Scream"), but "Black Christmas" did it early and well.

You should watch if: You love later psychological, sexy teen slasher movies like John Carpenter's "Halloween," "Scream," and "A Nightmare on Elm Street," and want to see where it all began. But with Christmas.


"Christmas Evil"

What it's about: A kid scarred by watching his parents have sex on Christmas (with his dad in a Santa suit, natch) grows up to punish people (dressed in a Santa suit, natch) when they're naughty on Christmas — with a hatchet.

Scariest moment: A toy solider made by the killer gets all stabby with a churchgoer's eyeball.

You should watch if: You like your Christmas slashers to contain deeper themes on privilege and morality. Seriously, "Christmas Evil" is actually pretty good.


"Silent Night, Deadly Night"

What it's about: A kid's parents are murdered by a guy dressed as Santa Claus. The same kid grows up to murder people, dressed as Santa Claus.

Scariest moment: A young woman is impaled topless on a set of deer antlers.

You should watch if: You want to watch a Christmas slasher movie but "Black Christmas" isn't streaming anywhere and abundant misogyny doesn't bother you. (Seriously, every woman in this movie gets her shirt ripped off before she's brutally murdered.)


"Silent Night, Deadly Night 2"

What it's about: The kid from the first movie's little brother is also a Santa killer, now.

Scariest moment: This film largely consists of clips from the first movie and was shot for pennies, so none of it is particularly scary so much as it is dark, weird, and hilarious in a very cult movie sort of way — largely due to the tonally bizarre performance from its lead, Eric Freeman.

You should watch if: You're high, and like to know what your movie geek friends are talking about when they yell "GARBAGE DAY!"



What it's about: The Dutch version of Santa, St. Niklas, and some murder-y ghosts slaughter a village on the Sinterklaas holiday every few-dozen years during the full moon.

Scariest moment: Anything featuring St. Niklas and his burned face is pretty creepy, but this super unique decapitation scene might take the cake.

You should watch if: You want your Christmas horror to have origins in the actual, OG story of Christmas, and don't mind subtitles. Also, if you're high. This movie starts off strong then turns into a weird bloodbath-slash-mystery, and certain herbs will probably help.


"Santa's Slay"

What it's about: Turns out Santa was never really a saint to begin with — he was actually a demon spawned from a virgin birth organized by Satan. He lost a curling match to an angel a thousand years ago, though, and as a result had to give out toys on Christmas Day instead of murdering people, which had previously been his jam.

1000 years later, the freed Santa returns to murder the shit out of people.

Scariest moment: When Bill Goldberg's Santa slaughters your favorite Jewish celebrities.

You should watch if: You want the classic slasher elements of "Black Christmas" and "Christmas Evil" mixed with the screwball comedy of "Gremlins 2."



What it's about: This movie has everything: incest, sadly relevant Neo-Nazi plots to bring Hitler's master race of half-Aryan half-elf hybrids to life, an elf trying to have sex with an Aryan virgin to create said master race of half-Aryan half-elf hybrids. What's not to love?

Scariest moment: When the filmmakers pitched the idea to the studio and they were like, "Sure, go for it."

You should watch if: I feel like if you're the type of person "ELVES" was made for, the whole "half-Aryan half-elf master race" thing already sold you. This is what B-movies are made of.



What it's about: A big suburban family is down on Christmas and each other, so hell rains Christmas down on them, via the demonic spirit of Krampus and his adorably evil army of Christmas friends. (Think stabby gingerbread men.)

Scariest moment: There's a whole sequence towards the beginning where Adam Scott's character ventures out in a snowstorm to find his teen daughter that's pretty scary.

You should watch if: You love a savage ending.


"Jack Frost"

What it's about: A serial killer named Jack Frost is set to be executed, but gets a lucky break when his prison truck collides with a truck containing acid, melting the flesh from his bones. He somehow is resurrected as a giant murder snowman because of this, then runs amok raping and killing people. 

Scariest moment: When my dad rented this thinking it was the heartwarming, Michael Keaton-led "Jack Frost" that came out around the same time when my brother and I were little. 

Or when Jack rapes Shannon Elizabeth to death, in snowman form, in the shower.

You should watch if: You're super high and have literally nothing else to do. This one is particularly awful.


"Rare Exports"

What it's about: Santa's origin story is retconned yet again in this Finnish flick, which earned rave reviews for turning Santa into an actually terrifying movie monster. Basically, a bunch of archaeologists find the ginormous Santa buried in icy, Nordic terrain, along with many of his evil helpers, skinny "elves" called Father Christmases. Some of said Father Christmases are de-thawed, and the locals soon learn that Mr. Claus and his minions were trapped in the ice with good reason.

Scariest moment: When the Father Christmases get their bizarre, darkly hilarious comeuppance of an ending.

You should watch if: The idea of "Santa's Slay" meets "The Thing" appeals to you.


"The Nightmare Before Christmas"

What it's about: Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, finds himself in Christmas Town and decides to take over the holiday from "Sandy Claws." Problem is, Skellington thinks severed heads and possessed snakes make great Christmas toys, while the children and parents of America do not. 

Scariest moment: Any time Jack Skellington makes this face.

You should watch if: You want to be spooked on Christmas, but are also a child.


"Love, Actually"

What it's about: A bunch of emotionally vacant, upper-middle-class British white people fall in "love" in the most depressing ways possible in the weeks before Christmas.

Scariest moment: Either when the movie sells us Colin Firth marrying a brown woman he literally cannot speak to based on sexual chemistry and weird patriarchal power dynamics alone as the most romantic thing on Earth, or when Rick from "The Walking Dead" tries to mack on his best friend's wife days after their wedding and the movie thinks that's the most romantic thing on earth. 

Ooh! Or, when the movie keeps trying to convince us that a U.S. size 6 is fat, or when the only two women in the film with fleshed out personalities (Emma Thompson and Laura Linney) are basically punished for having wants and needs and desires by a "forever alone"-style fate.

Or when like, four American women choose to have sex with that one grotesque British dude at the same time for his accent at the end of the movie. Merry Christmas?

You should watch if: You shouldn't, but let's be real, you're probably going to.