10 Christmas Horror Movies You Can Stream Right Now
A little twist on the traditional holiday genre.
You can only watch It’s a Wonderful Life and White Christmas so many times before your brain starts to crumble like a weeks-old gingerbread house. That's where Christmas horror films come in handy. Instead of the same old holiday movie-watching routine, try something that's both festive AND freaky. Grab some spiked eggnog and enjoy!
Anna and the Apocalypse (2018)
Although clearly (partially) inspired by the success of Edgar Wright's horror-comedy Shaun of the Dead, this fantastic Scottish import based on a play has a lot more in its corner than having shared DNA with its British predecessor. It's High School Musical-meets-zombie slugfest where the titular Anna and friends find themselves stuck in the center of an apocalypse of the undead during Christmastime and fight their ways back home with big musical numbers and zombie beheadings. Anna and the Apocalypse isn't some sort of ironic swipe at zombie flicks or musicals—it's an adorably earnest, occasionally gruesome, frequently funny, and entirely good time.
Rent it on Amazon Prime
Black Christmas (1974)
In 1984, director Bob Clark made holiday-movie history with A Christmas Story, a hilarious, sweet, and nostalgic slice of Americana with just enough rough edges to keep audiences watching every year on cable. But real Christmas-movie fans know that Clark also helmed this brilliant bit of '70s slasher heaven about a murderer running rampant at a sorority holiday party. A major influence on Halloween, Friday the 13th, and many of the derivative slashers to come in the '80s, Clark’s film is mostly notable for its creeping sense of dread, careful pacing, and fantastic outfits. No one gets their eye shot out with a BB gun, but there’s plenty of Christmas carnage to be found here.
Stream it on the Criterion Channel
Christmas Evil (1980)
A favorite of cult-film legend John Waters, this patient, evocative story of a toy-factory employee (played with real subtlety by Fiona Apple’s father Brandon Maggart) unraveling over the holiday season is probably the most formally inventive, daring, and genuinely unsettling movie on this list. Mixing surreal comedy, slasher-film tropes, and some beautiful cinematography from Louis Malle collaborator Ricardo Aronovich, the movie has lofty themes (articulated in this interview with director Lewis Jackson) but it never feels weighed down by them. This is everything a cult film should be: fun, puzzling, and hard to shake.
Stream it on Shudder
In a post-Furby world, it’s easy to forget how creepy director Joe Dante’s much-imitated creature feature can be. Yeah, Gizmo is very cute, but the gremlins themselves are terrifying little monsters that wreak gleeful havoc, attempting to kill Billy’s mom before getting the brutal Pop-Tart execution. Thanks to a clever script by future Home Alone director Christopher Columbus, the move has the wit, mayhem, and sense of mischief that distinguished Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment in the '80s, an aesthetic that recent movies like Jurassic World have attempted to revitalized with mixed results. As it turns out, nothing beats the original—just don’t watch this thing after midnight.
Stream it on HBO Max
Who says that yuletide tales of terror all have to involve a slaughter-happy Saint Nick? In this hyper-violent nail-biter from French duo Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury (The Deep House), an expectant mother is forced to defend her unborn baby from a relentless psychopath. Four months after surviving a horrific car wreck that took the life of her husband, the worst is yet to come for Sarah Scarangela (Alysson Paradis). While spending the holiday in solitude, a mysterious woman in black (Béatrice Dalle) shows up on her doorstep—and not to sing Christmas carols either. What starts out as a simple request to use a telephone escalates into a full-blown home invasion unlike anything you’ve seen before. Even though it’s laced with a slight tinge of malicious humor, Inside is, without a doubt, one of the bleakest slashers ever filmed, one that never shies away from flinch-inducing gore and sheer savagery. Seriously, it’s not for the squeamish—we know you came to this list to discover hellish holiday flicks, but this one may actually leave you seeking out It’s a Wonderful Life as a mental palate cleanser.
Rent it on Amazon Prime
Somehow Krampus, a folklore-inspired fright-fest from director Michael Dougherty (Trick 'r Treat), manages to skate between goofy parody and genuine terror. Not every element works—Adam Scott's dry wit is mostly wasted as the family's straight-laced patriarch—but any movie with a scene where sinister gingerbread men shoot David Koechner in the leg with a nail gun deserves some love.
Rent it on Amazon
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Not all horror films have to be brutal and bloody. Sometimes you just want to watch something that has a vaguely spooky vibe, which is where producer Tim Burton and director Henry Selick’s Hot Topic-core stop-motion masterwork comes in. It provides just enough poignant holiday charm, eye-popping visuals, and earworm tunes to keep kids and parents entertained. Who says family movies can’t be horrific?
Stream it on Disney+
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)
What if Santa was real and buried in a mass grave somewhere in Finland? That’s the bizarre and hilarious question posed by director Jalmari Helander in this whimsical horror romp about a young boy (Onni Tommila) and his reindeer-herding father (Jorma Tommila), who get way in over their heads in dealing with a mysterious company that is excavating a mysterious mountain near their land. Packed with winking John Carpenter references, bursts of gun-churning violence, and a surprising amount of (older) male nudity, the movie occasionally struggles to nail its anarchic, storybook tone down the home-stretch, but it’s more than worth a post-milk-and-cookies viewing.
Stream it on Amazon Prime
Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972)
This is where it all begins. While many of the titles on this list owe their existence to the runaway success of John Carpenter’s Halloween and the urge to cash in on the trend of holiday bloodletting, this atmospheric chiller about a series of murders committed at an insane asylum-turned-family estate is more of a mystery film than a gorefest. There’s not a lot of Christmas stuff here either—no icicle impalements, sled decapitations, or blinking-light strangulation to be found—but the cast is packed with Andy Warhol fixtures like Ondine, Candy Darling, and Tally Brown, making it a must for any cult-film completist.
Stream it on Amazon Prime
Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
Perhaps less fondly remembered than its “Garbage Day!” meme-inspiring sequel, which itself features whole chunks of footage lifted from the first movie, the first Silent Night, Deadly Night film is an odd mix of pop psychology, sleazy exploitation violence, and nasty black humor. Watching the film’s protagonist Billy (Robert Brian Wilson) slowly lose his mind and mutter “Punish!” while killing off teenagers has its charms, but long stretches of the film are just plain boring and the novelty of watching a man dressed like Santa commit crimes only lasts for so long. It makes you wish more horror movie directors would heed the words of Billy's grandpa at the beginning of the film: “You see Santa Claus tonight, you better run, boy. You better run for your life!”
Rent it on Amazon
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