I have a Christmas Eve tradition of watching Christmas Horrors, and I really love this sub-genre! It’s been great fun re-watching some old favourites, and digging out some festive films I hadn’t seen before, while researching this Naughty and Nice list.
5 – Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
- Director: Charles E. Sellier Jr.
- Writer: Paul Caimi, Michael Hickey
- Cast: Robert Brian Wilson, Gilmer McCormick, Lilyan Chauvin
‘You scared, ain’t ya? You should be! Christmas Eve is the scariest damn night of the year!.‘
At the age of 8, Billy witnesses his parents’ murder at the hands of a man dressed as Santa. He becomes obsessed with not being naughty – an obsession not helped by the strict Mother Superior at his orphanage – and when he grows up, and finds himself forced to step in as a department store Santa, he cracks and goes on a murderous rampage while dressed as the big man.
4 – Red Christmas (2016)
- Director: Craig Anderson
- Writer: Craig Anderson
- Cast: Dee Wallace, David Collins, Gerard Odwyer
‘This Christmas, the only thing under the tree is terror.’
A complicated family come together for Christmas, at the behest of their widowed mother Diane, who wants one last big Christmas in the family home before she sells it. When a stranger arrives, with a dangerous reminder of Diane’s past, he is kicked out…and soon returns to wreak revenge. This is a rather nasty piece of work, but I don’t mean that necessarily in a bad way – gotta love a bit of Ozploitation at Christmas!
3 – A Christmas Horror Story (2015)
- Director: Grant Harvey, Steven Hoban, Brett Sullivan
- Writer: James Kee, Sarah Larsen, Doug Taylor, Pascal Trottier
- Cast: William Shatner, George Buza, Zoe De Grand Maison
‘You reindeer fucking snow whore!‘
An anthology of interwoven stories set around Christmastime in the town of Bailey Downs. There’s Krampus stalking an unpleasant family, a little boy who comes home from the forest acting strangely, a haunted school, and Santa taking on a hoard of zombie Christmas elves. I have to say, Santa is oddly attractive in this. William Shatner plays a local radio DJ who basically gets drunk and rambles on throughout, which is the perfect role for him. It’s all great fun.
2 – The Children (2008)
- Director: Tom Shankland
- Writer: Paul Andrew Williams, Tom Shankland
- Cast: Hannah Tointon, Eva Birthistle, Rachel Shelley
‘Did you ever hear of contraception?!’
Okay, this is a bit of a cheat because it is set at New Year’s…but there’s snow, Christmas decorations and family strife so it’s close enough! A somewhat dysfunctional extended family come together to celebrate New Year. One-by-one the young children start to act strangely – and increasingly violently. Overexcited kids are pretty scary at the best of times, but throw in a mystery bug that turns them homicidal, and you’re in for a great horror film!
1 – Black Christmas (1974)
- Director: Bob Clark
- Writer: Roy Moore
- Cast: Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder
‘Jess, the caller is in the house. The calls are coming from the house!‘
A group of sorority girls start receiving unsettling phone calls in the approach to Christmas, which they don’t take very seriously, until one of their sisters disappears. A brilliant seventies slasher, which was integral in setting up a lot of the ‘rules’ and tropes we know and love in slashers today.