The Top 10 Christmas Horror Movies

It’s almost Christmas, so it’s time to snuggle up with a cup of hot chocolate and watch some gory movies.

Okay, that might not be your first thought. But surprisingly there are quite a few horror movies made specifically for the holidays. From monsters to madmen, these films might be hard to take seriously, but that’s part of their charm. A few of them are actually among the best horror movies ever released. This year, Stranger Things’ Hopper even got in on the action — Violent Night was released earlier this month and all certainly isn’t calm or bright.

Let’s count down the list (check it twice, if you dare). Hopefully by the end, you’ll have some idea of what to watch when you’re wanting a more spooky holiday season.

10. Black Christmas

Released in 1974, Black Christmas came at a time when horror was all the rage. The era was also rife with experimentation, and many of the more wild tropes we see in today’s movies got their start in the ’70s, especially from Black Christmas.

One of the earliest examples of holiday horror (A Christmas Carol not withstanding), this film centers on young women at college getting stalked and attacked by a violent madman. While not well-received upon release, it inspired countless other slasher movies, including Halloween, Scream, and a couple of remakes. It’s now thought of as a cult classic.

9. Jack Frost

Jack Frost is about a killer snowman. That’s basically it.

Well, there’s a little more to it than that, but not much. And that’s okay. Frosty with a bloody icicle is all a horrorphile can really ask for this season.

Not to be confused with another holiday movie of the same name (starring Michael Keaton), this movie provides the thrills and chills you might be looking for. Though Jack Frost has a very goofy gimmick, the premise is similar to numerous other Christmas horrors: A serial killer becomes some sort of holiday symbol via witchcraft, costume, or, in this case, genetic mutation.

8. The Gingerdead Man

By nature, Christmas horror movies are farcical, spritely stories that don’t have to make any sense. The Gingerdead Man is the perfect example. Released in 2005, the film is about a family that owns a bakery. The mother and daughter survived a shooting by a crazed killer, who was sentenced to death for killing some of the other family members.

Well, it turns out that the killer’s mom was a witch. So naturally, she gets his ashes and combines them with gingerbread spice so he can be baked and resurrected by the Leigh family (Pumpkinhead, anyone?).

The Leighs are then faced with a living cookie, baked in evil with every gum drop. And that cookie is played by none other than Gary Busey, an actor known for being esoteric and slightly psychotic — as if this film wasn’t already over the top.

7. Silent Night, Deadly Night

Silent Night, Deadly Night is a very violent 1984 film about a killer dressed as Santa Claus. Despite the silly premise, it presents itself as a grim, serious slasher.

The movie was hated upon release, and it only screened for a week before being pulled. Quite humorously, large crowds of people actually protested the idea of a murderer dressed up as Saint Nick. The public seemed to think it would traumatize their children.

Though it’s gotten a lot of criticism, the movie holds a special place in the hearts of horror fans. It even spawned a franchise, and the first sequel became the source for a modern day meme (“Garbage Day!”).

6. Anna and the Apocalypse

Anna and the Apocalypse is a Christmas musical about zombies. Seriously.

That might sound a bit crazy (or even stupid) at first. But if given the chance, the film can mesmerize audiences with its slick production, catchy tunes, and talented cast.

Along with her friends, a student named Anna fights to survive a zombie apocalypse. The tone is similar to Shaun of the Dead except a lot more wild, fun, and tuneful. For horror fans — and even traditional musical fans — it’s a happy romp through undead euphoria, perfect for the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

5. Krampus

A Christmas horror movie works best when it embraces the inherent humor of its concept. In 2015, Krampus fired on all cylinders, becoming something of a minor classic for the modern horror age.

Based on a surprisingly real legend about Santa’s demonic helper, the film centers on a family fighting to stay alive as the titular monster terrorizes their neighborhood. One of the young boys becomes jaded about Christmas thanks to his chaotic loved ones. He tears up a letter to Santa Claus, and this unleashes the monster’s wrath.

Featuring an entertaining cast and a top-notch monster, Krampus is fun any time of the year. The film helped further the careers of its cast and crew, including director Michael Dougherty, who went on to make Godzilla: King of the Monsters in 2019.

4. Rare Exports

Inspired by Finnish mythology, Rare Exports sees Santa Claus (Joulupukki) unearthed from a dig by a research team. This depiction is more like Krampus, horns and all. His elves, nasty, violent-tempered old men who capture children, try using electric heaters to thaw their leader from an ice block. It’s up to a father, a young son, and other supporting characters to stop Santa Claus from coming to life and wreaking havoc on the world.

Rare Exports is an eccentric film with a plot like a Saturday morning cartoon. Even so, it’s a rare gem among “family” horror films that aren’t often well-executed.

3. The Lodge

The Lodge is a great example of creativity. A woman named Grace is watching her fiancé’s kids at a woodland lodge. The family has already faced extensive trauma — the kids’ real mother committed suicide and their incoming step-mom is a cult survivor.

With the father away, things only worsen from there. The children, played by Jaeden Martell of It and Lia McHugh of Eternals (Sprite), start to unravel Grace’s disturbing past. She begins having dreams and visions of her father and the kids seem to notice the supernatural as well. The trio soon suspects they may even already be dead. Then things get even more complicated, and Grace turns psychotic.

With sharp twists, good performances, and a smart script, The Lodge is one of the best Christmastime horror movies you’ll ever see.

2. Better Watch Out

Babysitter horror tales are almost a dime a dozen. They’ve been told on screen so many times that they sort of blend together.

One 2016 movie, though, gave this classic urban legend new life by mixing up the good guy/bad guy roles. Just like The Lodge, the plot twists in Better Watch Out will definitely get the blood pumping. As it turns out, the preteens in the film are a lot more dangerous than any supposed intruder. This is bad news for the babysitter, and what started as a simple crush morphs into something terrifying.

If there’s a lesson here, it’s something like this — psychopathy can come from anywhere.

1. Gremlins

Sometimes when World War II pilots experienced weird aircraft or equipment malfunctions, they would blame mischievous little monsters called Gremlins. Of course, they were just screwing around — these creatures didn’t exist.

But what if they did? That’s the premise of Joe Dante’s 1984 holiday horror comedy that no Christmas is complete without. This movie is a lot of things: a sweet pet movie (you can own your own Mogwai), a tender teenage romance, a coming-of-age story for a young man, a celebration of Christmas, and a science fiction fright fest with hellish little demon beasts. Joy to the world!

Do you have a favorite yuletide horror movie? Share your thoughts with other fans at, and may your days be merry and full of fright!