35 Holiday Horror Movies That Are Perfect For a Bloody Good Christmas
Listen, a scary movie with ghosts, murderers, and bloody guts may not scream festive holiday fare, but that's OK. Some people (read: us) love horror movies any time of year, even if it's the most wonderful time of year. Holiday horror movies run the gamut, from Santa Claus killing people to Santa Clauses being killed. It's truly a holly-jolly holiday in the land of horror movies.
If you're looking for something a bit different to watch this holiday season, instead of a sugary Christmas confection of a film, a horror movie could be a fun twist. What's fun is that not all horror movies are downright scary. On this list, in fact, you'll find several horror comedies or low-budget thrillers that are so beyond campy, they're just plain cheesy. If you don't handle horror well, these could be a great watch for a snowy day stuck inside.
Some of these movies, though, are terrifying, whether it's because they're just really well-made in their storytelling or so relatable that you fear it could be your own story. Many women can relate to a fear of being cornered in a parking garage by men who have devious thoughts — and that's exactly the story you'll get with While She Was Out, starring Kim Basinger. What starts as a story on Christmas Eve turns into one of a woman fighting for her life so she can get home to her kids.
You then have the Gingerdead Man trilogy, and, no, that's not a typo. These movies feature a killer gingerbread man made from the ashes of an executed and cremated murderer, and every entry is even more off the wall than the one before. For some belly laughs and plenty of cringing, these three movies absolutely must make your Christmas watch list.
But don't worry, there's plenty of everything on this list to suit whatever holiday horror movie day you have in mind. Read on to plan your next holiday horror binge.
Silent Night, Bloody Night
If you inherit a house that was once an insane asylum, get rid of it as fast as possible. At least, that's the message from 1974's Silent Night, Bloody Night. The movie follows an ax murderer who goes on a spree on Christmas Eve. While Jeffrey (James Patterson) and the mayor's daughter Diane (Mary Woronov) are trying to get to the bottom of mysterious events in the house, they trace everything back to the original owner — Jeffrey's grandfather — who has a mysterious story of his own. Though he supposedly died and left the house to Jeffrey, there might be more disturbing details for Jeffrey and Diane to uncover, all while trying to make it out alive.
All Through the House
All Through the House almost feels like two terrifying stories in one. To start, a 5-year-old girl in a sleepy neighborhood goes missing on Christmas. The town is understandably distraught over such a tragedy, considering things like that rarely happen there. Fast forward 15 years and our second terrifying tale takes place. When a young woman comes back to town for Christmas, she finds it under siege, this time by a Santa running amok and killing people. Though she's somewhat shielded by the kidnapped girl's mother all these years later, she'll eventually find out how both tales are connected and how she fits into it.
Anna and the Apocalypse
In a combo you may have never expected, Anna and the Apocalypse is a Christmas zombie musical. Anna (Ella Hunt) is done with school and ready to move into the next chapter of her life when suddenly there's a zombie apocalypse. It all comes crashing down on the night of the local school's Christmas show — zombies start popping up and infecting everyone in their path. Though Anna doesn't know what's happening right away, she quickly clues in and sets forth to save herself and her loved ones. However, escaping zombies is no easy feat. Fortunately, she's ready for battle.
Better Watch Out
It's the holiday season, and Ashley (Olivia DeJonge) is babysitting Luke (Levi Miller), who has a bit of a crush on the teenager. The 12-year-old wants to try to seduce his babysitter, despite her being five years older and very taken by a boyfriend her own age. Things start to go awry when they hear mysterious sounds outside the house. When it turns out to be one of Luke's friends, Ashley thinks all is fine, but she couldn't be more wrong. Luke will stop at nothing to try to get Ashley to fall in love with him, and if that means killing a few people along the way, then so be it.
Black Christmas (1974)
You're in for a good time with 1974's dark classic Black Christmas. It's the story of a group of sorority girls who are picked off one by one by a murderer in the days leading up to Christmas. In this story, based on the urban legend of the babysitter and the man upstairs, a man quite literally hides in the attic of the sorority house during the Christmas party and bides his time until he can wreak havoc on the sorority sisters, picking them off. It is murderously gruesome and has spawned a few remakes that are perfect for fans of the slasher genre.
Black Christmas (2006)
Katie Cassidy, Michelle Trachtenberg, and Oliver Hudson star in the equally terrifying (if not slightly campier) remake of the 1974 Black Christmas. Much like the original, a group of sorority girls are picked off in the days leading up to Christmas. This is all because the sorority house was once a home owned by a seriously messed-up family. A damaged boy murdered his mom and her lover there and injured his younger sister. He was locked up, and she was sent away — until now. It turns out, though, his sister might just be murderous as well. It's safe to say both parties are definitely not in the mood to spread any holiday cheer.
Black Christmas (2019)
The third iteration of Black Christmas, this one released in 2019, has much of the same general story as the first two films, with a few tweaks thrown in. As with all Black Christmas movies past, it focuses on a group of sorority girls during the holidays who find a killer on campus. This version, though, is not quite so violent as previous versions, making it a little more tolerable for people who want a thriller movie without gore. The women in this movie are also ready to fight back against the killer rather than stand by as helpless victims.
A Christmas Horror Story
What do you mean you don't even remember seeing commercials for this absolutely bonkers 2015 horror movie? Lucky for you, we didn't miss it, and now we implore you to check it out this holiday season. With this movie, you'll need to settle in for a night of William Shatner as a DJ host whose broadcast strings together four different nightmarish stories, including one on the legendary Krampus, one on possession, one about changelings, and one about zombies (that also includes Krampus). Shatner strings everything together throughout the film and keeps you enraptured and on the edge of your seat.
Edward Scissorhands is great year-round, but it's particularly relevant around Halloween and Christmas. A chunk of the movie takes place during the holiday season, when Edward (Johnny Depp) creates a giant ice sculpture of Kim (Winona Ryder). He also creates gorgeous topiaries for everyone in the neighborhood during the warmer season in an effort to try to be accepted. Edward is misunderstood and living an oddball life just trying to fall in love and be somewhat normal. And if that all doesn't sound a bit like a scary story to you, well, just trust us when we say this definitely has its horror moments.
We tune in on Christmas Eve to find a pregnant woman named Sarah (Alysson Paradis) who is still dealing with the aftermath of losing her husband in a car accident. As she's off to bed, a woman arrives at her door and asks to use her phone. Sarah knows something isn't right and tries to get the woman to leave. It can never be that easy, though, and somehow the woman ends up inside the house to attack Sarah and her unborn baby. Through the night, a series of events leads to blood, gore, and a string of dead bodies. This French horror film is tense, to say the least.
Adam Scott, Toni Collette, and Allison Tolman star in Krampus, the tale of a young boy who accidentally summons a demon on Christmas. It's funny, but if you know about the real legend, it'll also make you jump. The ancient Christmas demon — yes, sounds like an oxymoron, but alas — has horns, hooves, black hair, fangs, and a long, pointed tongue. Legend says he swats naughty children with a bundle of birch branches. However, the Krampus in this film is here to do a little more than swipe at bad children. Because the Christmas spirit has vanished from thought, Krampus arrives to take everyone to the underworld.
Grace (Riley Keough) is the lone survivor of a cult that died by mass suicide and goes on to marry a man whose wife has also died by suicide. For the holidays, Grace, her new husband, and his two young children are going to their remote cabin to get away from everything. However, work beckons, and Grace's husband leaves her alone with his kids. The children, who are skeptical of Grace, find out her cultish beginning and take it upon themselves to bring her down. As mysterious events befall all three of them — from the power going out to their belongings disappearing — they start to wonder if they're not actually dead and stuck in purgatory.
After getting stuck working late on Christmas Eve, Angela (Rachel Nichols) finds that her car — parked on the building's parking level P2 — won't start. When trying to get home, she ends up locked in the building, all because one of the office security guards, Thomas (Wes Bentley), is obsessed with her and wants to kidnap her. He drugs her and sexually assaults her, before handcuffing her to keep her still. Through the night, Angela pleads for her life with a psychopath — who killed others on his way to her. Though she is able to escape his wrath temporarily, he of course comes after her, trying to make her stay with him forever.
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale
This Finnish movie is packed with lore — and horror, of course. It starts with a drilling team working on a fell in Finland that's believed to be the home of Joulupukki, a figure in legends that's thought to be the inspiration for the modern Santa Claus. What they soon discover, though, is that the fell is an ancient burial ground, which never bodes well for anyone. From there, there's a lot of reindeer trapping, human trapping, and, well, some brutal deaths. There's a lot happening in this holiday horror movie, and it all ties back to the legend of Santa Claus.
This Christmas is unlike any other for one family. When they sit down to enjoy their holiday, a strange man shows up. What they don't realize immediately is that he's the surviving child of Diane (Dee Wallace), the head of the family. When she tried to have an abortion 20 years ago, the baby actually survived, and now he wants revenge on his mother and her new family for attempting to kill him all those years ago. One by one, he picks off each member of the family in gruesome fashion. Though the family attempts to fight back, the night becomes increasingly bloody as the bodies go down. Not everyone will make it to next Christmas, but who will survive remains to be seen.
If you missed this 2012 gem featuring Jaime King, Malcolm McDowell, and Donal Logue, we'll attempt to forgive you. In the film, which is the sixth installment in the Silent Night, Deadly Night franchise, a murderous Santa Claus is on the loose. But since it's Christmas Eve, tons of other Santas are roaming the streets! The bad Santa in question is going after anyone deemed naughty, naturally, and what better time to hide than when all the other Santas are providing cover? Who's the real killer? You better hope they find out before more bodies drop in this must-watch slasher movie.
A college girl (Emily Blunt) posts a message on her campus ride share ad space looking for someone to head home for the holidays to Delaware with her, and a guy (Ashton Holmes) takes her up on her offer. The ride together quickly goes south as the guy behaves weirdly and seems to have stalking tendencies. The problems only escalate, though, when things take a turn for the paranormal. The two think they see people on the side of the road while driving, but it turns out the figures are actually corpses. They also run into a cop who they think might help them through the snow, but he winds up being bad trouble.
Gremlins may not be your typical holiday horror story, but Billy (Zach Galligan) does receive his new pet as a Christmas present. It's only later, when Billy stops following the three rules that Gizmo came with, that things start to get scary. For the uninformed, the rules that absolutely must be followed for anyone who comes into possession of a mogwai are as follows: they cannot be exposed to sunlight, they must not get wet, and you cannot feed them after dark. Naturally all of these things come to pass, and all hell breaks loose when the mogwai become much darker than you could ever imagine.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Tim Burton's holiday classic, The Nightmare Before Christmas, also isn't a traditional horror movie, but it does have lots of scary elements — like basically everything in Halloween Town. It's one of those movies that you never quite know how to classify — is it a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie? (The correct answer is yes.) Jack Skellington is trying to bring Christmas to creepy little Halloween Town, which, of course, doesn't go as planned. He tries to bring presents to all the worthy girls and boys, but you can probably imagine how well that goes when a skeleton tries to bring children Christmas joy.
Silent Night, Deadly Night
This 1984 slasher film has spawned several sequels, and it's the inspiration for 2012's Silent Night. The movie features a young boy whose parents are murdered by a man in a Santa suit. Afterward, he's sent to a Catholic orphanage, where he grows up, never quite recovering from what happened. Needless to say, the trauma changes him forever, and when he becomes an adult, he goes on a killing spree of his own. But who's the person at the top of his list? The killer who took out his parents, of course. To really satisfy his vengeance, he dons a Santa suit to wreak holiday havoc.
Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2
The sequel to Silent Night, Deadly Night finds us back in the same space as the original, but this time, the focus is on the brother of the killer from the first movie. Told almost entirely in flashbacks, the story reveals how his brother's actions affected him, even years later. But just when you think that maybe this guy won't lean on his trauma to turn him into a bad person, lo and behold, he decides to be a murderer, too. He may not necessarily use all the same tactics as his brother, but there are deaths all the same.
This 2005 horror comedy starts off with a murderous Santa ruining Christmas dinner by killing an entire family, including James Caan as the ill-fated father. It turns out, in this Santa-filled tale, Santa actually wasn't a good guy at all. In fact, he was once a demon who lost a bet with an angel that sent him into years of doing good. But once his time is up, he's able to return to his roots and be the demon he always wanted to be — murders and all. If a murderous Santa isn't enough to get you excited, perhaps "hell-deer" and a death by Zamboni are sure to pique your interest.
Think of Jack Frost as the holiday version of Child's Play. After a serial killer gets in a freak accident, his body ends up fusing with snow, turning him into a killer snowman! Be warned, though, this is one holiday horror movie that's not for the faint of heart. Featuring graphic death and sexual-assault scenes, this 1997 flick is one of the most twisted movies on the list and one to only watch if you feel comfortable with such a heavy storyline. If this film is up your alley, there's also a sequel, Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman, for you to enjoy.
Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman
Now if you thought Jack Frost was camp, just wait until you watch Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman. The slasher sequel picks up a year after where the first left off, with Jack Frost still very much a mutant snowman. Now, though, he's on a mission to take down the man who killed him originally. He has to head to the tropics to avenge his death, which sounds like a recipe for disaster when you're made of snow, no? It's a race to find out if he can accomplish his mission before nature runs its course.
This 1980 slasher movie has earned a cult following in the decades since its release. When young Harry (Brandon Maggart) sees Santa touching his mom on Christmas Eve, he's scarred for life. It turns out, it's just his dad dressed up as Santa, but Harry doesn't know that. When he grows up, he has a mental breakdown and convinces himself that he's the real Santa — and the people on his "naughty" list need to be punished. This film involves a lot of blood, a lot of intensity, and a whole new way of viewing the festive season, to say the least.
ATM opens with a company Christmas party where David (Brian Geraghty), who's crushing on his coworker Emily (Alice Eve), offers to take her home. Unfortunately, he also gets saddled with taking home another coworker, Corey (Josh Peck). It's when they stop at an ATM on the way home that things go very, very wrong. While all three of them are in the ATM booth trying to get Corey's money, a creepy guy shows up and attempts to come in. While the trio try to contact police, the man — who they quickly learn is a killer — takes out an innocent person on the street. Though they're safe for the time being inside the locked ATM booth, the killer won't give up easily.
While She Was Out
It's Christmas Eve when Della (Kim Basinger) leaves home to get away from her abusive husband. During a trip to the mall, she finds herself cornered by four thugs who harass her. When mall security tries to break it up, though, one of them kills him before they all turn on Della to take her out as well. Through the night, a chase ensues, with Della fighting for her life and to protect her children, whom the thugs have claimed they will come after next. They get picked off one by one, but who will prevail in the end? It'll be a Christmas miracle if Della makes it home alive.
Don't Open Till Christmas
It's not safe out there for any Santa Claus in Don't Open Till Christmas. During the holidays, those dressed up as Santa start getting attacked in this gruesome thriller. In an effort to try to track down who's doing all this killing, several cops go undercover, but their mission is futile when a few of them turn up dead. Through it all, you learn the backstories of the main characters and find out exactly why Christmastime — and Santas in particular — is the root of so much bloodshed. This movie will make you never want to dress up for the festive season again.
In this cult film directed by Massimiliano Cerchi, Santa Claus is on the hunt for all the pieces he needs for his Christmas tree. But whereas you might think a Christmas tree should be evergreen, tinsel, and ornaments, this deranged Santa's tree will be composed of body parts — and a whole lot of them. To get all those pieces, Santa Claus, or in this case Satan Claus, has to kill anyone who would make the perfect addition to his Christmas decor. This movie is dark, gritty, and everything you want in a holiday horror movie that will give you nightmares on Christmas Eve.
When this family take a shortcut through the woods during a holiday drive to Grandma's house, they pretty much enter the twilight zone. It all starts when Dad dozes off at the wheel. Everything is seemingly OK, though, when he wakes up and they keep driving. But then, a ghostly woman shows up in the woods with her baby, and it appears she needs help. If it seems creepy and weird that a woman is in the woods with her baby, it's because it is. She's not exactly who she seems to be, and the family slowly start to go mad.
This wild slasher film from 1996 is equal parts holiday horror and a real look at the downsides of fame. Amid all the campy horror is the story of a B-list actress named Raven (Debbie Rochon), who finds herself with a stalker. He seems to be a decent guy at first, offering to help her out with things like babysitting her kids, but he has much more sinister things up his sleeve. You see, he's obsessed with her because of her work, and he doesn't like that her costars have her attention. So he dresses up as Santa Claus and uses a claw to take them out one at a time.
The Gingerdead Man
You're in for a real treat with this one. Gary Busey stars as a murderer named Millard Findlemeyer. When he's sentenced to death for his crimes, his body is cremated and his ashes are sent to his mother. Wouldn't you know it, though, his mom is a witch, and she takes those ashes and makes them into a gingerbread spice mix. She leaves the mix at a local bakery, where one of the workers decides to make an oversize gingerbread man cookie with the mix. Thanks to the magic in the dough, Millard is brought back to life, but as a gingerbread man. Millard falls back into his old ways, and, well, it gets ugly.
Gingerdead Man 2: Passion of the Crust
You didn't think there was only one Gingerdead Man movie, did you? This entry takes us to a production studio that's on its last legs. Seemingly out of nowhere, a box of cookies arrives, naturally containing the crumbs of the Gingerdead Man. According to the series's lore, this holiday creature is able to come into human form if he follows a spell that calls for blood — lots and lots of blood. He sets out to gather all the blood he needs to perform the spell but quickly runs into a young man wreaking havoc on the studio. The Gingerdead Man and the young man clash, but will the spell come to fruition?
Gingerdead Man 3: Saturday Night Cleaver
And believe it or not, there is, in fact, a third Gingerdead Man movie. And because these movies get more bizarre as they go, the film opens at the Scientific Research Institute for the Study of Homicidal Baked Goods. The Gingerdead Man is being held there, but a group of activists help set him free. Now you know he's not going to just go on his merry way back to a festive fairy-tale land. Oh no, he's out for more blood. With a cleaver as his weapon of choice, the Gingerdead Man goes after a bunch of unsuspecting victims at a roller rink.
Michael (Steven Hubbell) is over the moon when a beautiful woman seemingly falls for him and wants to bring him home to meet her family for the holidays. His nervous excitement propels him into the home, where he sets out to impress the family, but it goes south real quick. Michael is knocked out and soon finds out that her family is not at all the pristine picture he thinks. In fact, they're a bunch of cold-blooded killers, and he's next on their list. Will he make it out of the house before they serve him up on a Christmas platter? You'll have to watch to find out.