21 Christmas Horror Movies That Are Actually Terrifying

Samantha Sutton | Dec 6, 2018 Movies
21 Christmas Horror Movies That Are Actually Terrifying

Better Watch Out movie
Storm Vision Entertainment

'Tis the season to be jolly. But for those of us who've watched sweet, sappy holiday movies on repeat, the traditional tales of Santa, finding love in the snow, and families reuniting is getting, well, a bit stale. Don't get us wrong: We'll definitely be watching Hallmark movies until the channel officially cuts us off and goes back to its regularly scheduled programming, but it doesn't hurt to switch things up a bit. Why can't we alternate between something cheerful -- like Netflix's A Christmas Prince -- and something suspenseful and kind of gory -- like Krampus? Much like Halloween, Christmas has its own set of scary movies, which shouldn't be too surprising considering one of the stars of the season is a stranger who breaks into people's houses while they are sleeping.

Aside from vicious, horned beasts popping up to terrorize families, and murderous men who decide it's a great idea to dress as Santa for their killing sprees, Christmas' scariest films often include creepy twists on characters we thought we knew, and a handful even revolve around some very evil kids (and no, they aren't just bratty). Do most of these holiday horrors have comedic elements, or end up being hilariously bad at times? Sure, but we think that's part of the appeal. Gremlins, for example, can be considered cute and silly, but there's no denying that there are some parts that will make adults jump -- and make us wonder if it's even meant for kids at all.

We've rounded up 21 terrifyingly great Christmas movies that will likely be a welcome switch from the season's happiest, most heartwarming stories. Some of the films are older and considered classics -- like Silent Night, Deadly Night -- while others are lower budget, or come from different countries and will have to be watched with subtitles.

Merry scaremas!
  • 'Krampus'


    Rated: PG-13

    Like most Christmas horror films, this one's half-funny, half-horrifying. Sure, there are jokes here and there, but a kid ends up summoning a horned demon to his house for the holiday -- and he's not friendly.

  • 'Better Watch Out'


    Rated: R

    Nothing says heartwarming holiday movie like a tale of babysitting gone horribly, horribly wrong! This movie gets gruesome and can be a bit jumpy. And when the bad guys are revealed, it's definitely a shocker.

  • 'Black Christmas'


    Rated: R

    A remake of the 1974 movie of the same name, but if we're going to watch sorority sisters get stalked and murdered a few days before Christmas, this version -- which includes Michelle Trachtenberg, Lacey Chabert, and Oliver Hudson -- is preferred.

  • 'Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale'


    Rated: R

    Santa isn't a jolly, nice guy in this film; he's actually pure evil and really enjoys punishing people! (Unfortunately, his elves are just as bad.) It does get bizarre at points, and is mostly in Finnish (meaning subtitles are needed), but the sinister spin on Santa is a good way of mixing things up.

    (Hallmark would not approve.)

  • 'Jack Frost'


    Rated: R

    What's weird is that there's a family movie of the same name that stars Michael Keaton -- and this definitely isn't that! It's actually a pretty messed up tale about a serial killer getting into a freak accident and somehow turning into snowman, thus becoming a killer snowman.

  • 'Silent Night, Deadly Night'


    Rated: R

    After seeing his parents get murdered by a guy dressed like Santa, a little boy grows up, ends up dressing like Santa, and murders people, too. It truly is a vicious cycle.

  • 'Silent Night, Bloody Night'


    Rated: R

    Surprisingly, this movie is totally different than Silent Night, Deadly Night -- but still just as scary. After a man inherits a house that used to be an asylum, a series of murders occur in the town on Christmas Eve.

  • 'Silent Night'


    Rated: R

    We get it: This song's title is made for horror films! Silent Night is sort of a remake of Silent Night, Deadly Night: A man dresses up as Santa and starts killing people. Details from a real-life Covina massacre were added in, making it even worse.

  • 'Santa's Slay'


    Rated: R

    Santa, otherwise known as Satan's son, used to be an evil demon -- until an angel sentenced him to deliver presents for a thousand years. But once the deal is up, he's back to his old ways and is seeking revenge.

  • 'A Christmas Horror Story'


    Rated: Not Rated

    Four stories in one? Yep! The anthology known as A Christmas Horror Story not only includes a killer Krampus (that guy again!), but Santa's elves end up turning into zombies. So, there's a little something for everyone.

  • 'Christmas Evil'


    Rated: R

    This is another film where a young boy is scarred for life by Santa. But this time, it's after discovering that the guy in the red suit isn't real. Once he grows up, he makes it his mission to gift presents to kids -- and murder the adults.

  • 'Gremlins'


    Rated: PG

    We can't believe we watched this horror-comedy as kids! (It's actually ranked as one of the best Christmas movies!) When a Christmas gift leads to tiny, not-so-friendly creatures taking over the town, things gets violent, scary, and even morbid at times -- especially that story about Kate's dad coming down the chimney.

  • 'Saint (Sint)'


    ... or rather, Saint Nick, which is what this Dutch dark comedy was called for its US release.

    Rated: Not Rated

    In it, Sinterklaas (Santa) is really a murderous gang leader, and he returns as a ghost whenever the holiday coincides with a full moon.


  • 'P2'


    Rated: R

    As if we needed further convincing not to work late on Christmas Eve, P2 follows a woman who does just that ... only to get trapped in an underground parking lot. As it turns out, a murderous security guard has been stalking her, and now she has to try to escape.

  • 'Wind Chill'


    Rated: R

    With all that buzz about Mary Poppins, it might be the perfect time to revisit Emily Blunt in the 2007 movie Wind Chill. She plays a college girl who gets a ride home for the holidays from a guy she barely knows from class (sounds safe). Things take a creepy, ghostly turn after their car ends up in a snow drift.

  • 'Elves'


    Rated: PG-13

    A curse, an alcoholic ex-cop, a neo-Nazi story line. (Yikes.) The main thing to know here is that elves are evil killers in this movie, which wasn't meant to be a comedy but might produce a chuckle or two.

  • 'Dead End'


    Rated: R

    While driving on Christmas Eve, a family decides to take a shortcut, which is never a wise thing to do. They end up traveling down a deserted, never-ending road. Things get even creepier (and deadlier) once they spot a young woman wandering outside with her baby.

  • 'The Children'


    Rated: R

    Over the holidays, the kids in this family start to get sick. And it turns out that whatever they have is turning them violent and demon-like. Of course, the parents struggle to fight back against them because, well, they're kids, making this film all the more frustrating and suspenseful to watch.

  • 'Home for the Holidays'


    A young Sally Field appears in this made-for-TV movie, which revolves around four sisters, their dying father, and a suspicious stepmother. The scary part comes after someone in a yellow raincoat pops up and starts killing them off, one by one.

  • 'Holidays'


    Rated: Not Rated

    Christmas is just one part of this 2016 release, which is an anthology that includes multiple short horror films about the dark sides of different holidays. For the Christmas portion, Seth Green plays a father who is willing to go to great (and horrific) lengths to get his son the gift he asked for. And the best part is, the woman who plays his wife (Clare Grant) is married to the actor in real life.

  • 'Edward Scissorhands'


    Rated: PG-13

    Kind of like Gremlins, Edward Scissorhands is a lot scarier than we remember -- partly due to those, well, scissor hands, and also how the town turns on him toward the end. Thankfully, that sweet ice sculpture snow scene balances things out.

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