Tuesday, 16 December 2014


It's a mere fortnight until the most wonderful time of the year, so how about an early present?
Horror films (especially, but not limited to slashers) are often seasonally based, using the time of year as their hook or gimmick. This was obviously made popular with Halloween, but it includes the festive season too. With that in mind, here are six great horror films set at Christmas.
Before we start, I wanted to include Gremlins on this list more than life itself — unfortunately, in the end I felt it should be disqualified as a family-comedy-fantasy film, not truly of our beloved genre. It hurt, but I had to do it. Also I've yet to see the quite fantastic looking Krampus: The Christmas Devil, so I can’t say whether it makes the cut. Maybe next year?

Now let's get to the list!

1: SANTA'S SLAY (2005) 

Okay, first off, this film isn't really any good. It's stupid, it isn't going to frighten anybody and it knows it. What it is however, is hilarious. This is a film that has an opening scene in which former WCW/WWE wrestler Bill Goldberg plays a demonic Santa who proceeds to slaughter an entire family of irritating toffs (played by an eclectic mix of celebs, including James Caan. Yes, THAT Janes Caan). This scene alone warrants inclusion on the list and that's before we even get to the strip club massacre and the game of curling with every human life at stake. 
The film is great fun, helped all the more by the fact that Goldberg plays the role pretty much straight as an arrow, letting the ridiculousness of what is happening onscreen speak for itself. Plus Bill in his Santa’s Slay garb has become the Hickey’s House of Horrors Facebook page profile pic for this month. What a cracker!


More famous for the tidal wave of controversy it caused upon its release than anything else, Silent Night, Deadly Night sparked serious moral outrage.
The story of Billy, a boy who witnessed his mother brutally molested and murdered by a criminal in a Santa costume, it effectively details his holiday sparked mental breakdown as he is forced to don the same outfit at work. Soon Billy is judging whether people have been naughty or good and offing those who haven’t in gory ways (including one Linnea Quigley, scream queen extraordinaire). As Billy hacks away at his victims with an axe, screaming ‘PUNISH!’ a cult classic is born. 
SN,DN provoked the ire of family and parent groups by completely running with the idea of a murderous Father Christmas — especially in its ad campaign. In fact the backlash was so strong that the film was eventually withdrawn from cinemas — but not before raking in nearly $2,500,000 at the box office. 
The film also spawned one of the most hilarious, so-bad-it’s-good sequels in history — Silent Night, Deadly Night: Part 2 may not have made this list but it was DAMN close. ‘GARBAGE DAY!’


Hilariously, despite the controversy surrounding Silent Night, Deadly Night, it wasn't even the first slasher film to feature a Santa costume clad maniac! 
Beat to the punch by a marvellous segment in Tales From The Crypt in 1972, in which Joan Collins is stalked by an escaped maniac in a Father Christmas outfit, it was also preceded by a feature length psycho santa flick in 1980’s Christmas Evil.
Once again this features a man, Harry, who has been disturbed by a childhood trauma involving his mother and somebody dressed as Santa. Now as he grows up he is pushed to the brink by his odious colleagues at the toy factory in which he works, plus the generally shitty people in his life. He takes to making himself the True Santa, not like the impostor he saw as a boy, wearing the costume all the time while he is at home and drawing up a list of people who have been good and those who have been bad. Finally he snaps, exacting bloody retribution on everybody who has kept him downtrodden for so long.
Christmas Evil is a great film, with a top notch performance by Brandon Maggart as Harry. Certainly not as fun as SN,DN, it’s still entertaining and very bleak. Well worth your time.

4: SINT (2010)

So much of our classic Christmas mythology comes from Europe, with the name Santa Claus itself a bastardisation of Sinterklaas AKA Sint Niklas, the Dutch name for Saint Nicholas. With that in mind, this great horror film from the Netherlands draws on its nation’s folklore to give us a thoroughly entertaining action horror film. In Holland gifts are given on the eve of St Nicholas’s Day (the eve falling on the 5th of December) and it is this night that the events of Sint (known as Saint Nick in the US) take place on. 
Reimagining Sint Niklas as a rogue bishop who led a gang of thieves, the prologue of the film shows us that the people of Amsterdam finally fought back against his tyrannical reign and killed the gang through burning. Now, whenever the anniversary of his death falls on the night of a full moon, Niklas and his burnt former henchmen, the Zwarte Pieten (or Black Petes, another somewhat controversial festive tradition in Holland) return and slaughter anybody that crosses their path.
This film really rocks with great special effects and Sint Niklas himself an amazing movie monster, using a bladed crozier as a weapon and galloping his spectral horse across the town’s pretty rooftops. I considered adding another European effort, Finland’s Rare Exports: A Christmas Story to this list, which is a great film in its own right, but Sint’s likeable cast, a great conspiracy theory sub-plot and brilliant direction by Dick Maas give it the edge. Check it out!

5: JACK FROST (1997)

Okay, this film is definitely a guilty pleasure. Featuring a serial killer called Jack Frost who, after he is finally apprehended by the sheriff of a small town called Snowmonton, is being sent to his place of execution. However, the truck collides with a lorry transporting toxic waste, causing Frost to be dissolved and his cells to become combined with those of the snow on the ground.
So we get a film with a killer snowman.
Low-budget and played totally for laughs with a slew of  gory, gruesome, winter-themed deaths and bad-taste one-liners, Jack Frost is the epitome of a cult classic, beer and pizza movie. How can a film in which a maniacal snowman rapes American Pie’s Shannon Elizabeth to death with his carrot, then quips ‘Maybe I should send flowers?’ be anything OTHER than gold? Plus look out for The Idiot, one of the finest running jokes I have ever seen in a film. It has a sequel in which Jack heads to a tropical island to exact further revenge. It isn’t as it good as it sound like it is, but this first one is a real gem. Give it a whirl!


The grand-daddy of them all. Bob Clark‘s prototypical slasher film isn’t just my favourite Christmas horror film, it’s up there in my top 10 horror films of all time.
Predating Halloween by four years, Clark’s film establishes many of the tropes of the slasher genre (young female victims, a single location, limited to a time of year, point of view shots and red herrings to name but a few).
With a top cast, particularly Margot Kidder as the acidic hard-drinking Barb, Black Christmas is a masterclass in building tension as a maniac — with a subtly implied backstory told over a series of legitimately spine-chilling telephone calls — slowly picks off a house full of sorority sisters one cold and snowy evening. It’s simple but told perfectly, genuinely unnerving at times with a gut-punch of an ending that will haunt you for days.
The film was followed by an inferior remake in 2006. The film did away with most of the original’s subtlety, expressly spelling out the backstory of Billy (and bizarrely making him bright yellow). The film is a fun way to while away a miserable winter evening and boasts some good gory moments and a decent cast of pretty young things, but it doesn't get near the quality of Clark’s film.
If you haven’t seen the sterling original, WATCH IT NOW. If you have, WATCH IT AGAIN! It deserves revisiting every single year.

Ho ho ho.

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Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay.

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