Welcome to Alt-Christmas, our week of articles dedicated to movies that we like to watch this time of year, especially if we’re not entirely in the spirit of the season.
Did we rank every Christmas horror movie from the naughty to the nice? You’re goddamn right we did.
The idea of not only listing every Christmas horror movie in one place — but also ranking them — will strike some as an exercise in pure madness. Some of us live at that intersection of folly and holly, though, and for Chris Coffel, Kieran Fisher, and myself it represented a challenge we couldn’t resist. Watching them, either as a first-time viewing or a re-watch, was time-consuming, and the ranking process saw both insults and punches thrown between us, but the biggest challenge was probably the first.
Figuring out what does and doesn’t count as a Christmas horror movie.
We decided on the following criteria. A Christmas horror movie should be feature-length, set on or around Christmas day, and feature some combination of terror, villains, and/or the threat of death. We also put no limit on tone so horror comedies count every bit as much as torture porn. A handful of titles that fit these guidelines still managed to slip by us due to a lack of availability, but those stragglers aside this remains a holiday miracle and the most comprehensive ranked list of Christmas horror movies ever assembled.
80. Silent Night Dead Night (2016)
Plot: A play on the classic Charles Dickens’ novel but in this version Ebenezer Scrooge is a pimp.
As silly as it sounds that’s a premise that I think could work. Unfortunately, what we have here is an embarrassment to pimps everywhere. This isn’t funny, it isn’t clever, it isn’t scary, and it isn’t good. No thumbs up, ho ho hoes down. – Chris
79. Bikini Bloodbath Christmas (2009)
Plot: A killer chef returns to stalk a group of bikini-clad ladies on Christmas.
The final chapter in the “exciting” trilogy of Bikini Bloodbath “movies” sees the series close with a holiday “spectacular.” I honestly don’t know what this movie is about and had to grab a plot synopsis from IMDb. I do know there are lots of fart jokes and girls in bikinis. The highlight of this film is the brief appearance of a Guarding Tess DVD. If you ever want to make fun of me feel free to mention how I paid $2.95 to watch this. – Chris
78. Darkest Night (2012)
Plot: A family reunion on Christmas day takes a dark turn when an earthquake, a power outage, and pure evil descend on the fun.
Do you have seventeen dollars, a camera, and a valid passport? Congrats! You too can make a faux-documentary horror movie in the Philippines. – Rob
77. Feeders 2: Slay Bells (1998)
Plot: Aliens invade Earth during the holidays and it’s up to Santa and his helpers to save the day.
I’m a big fan of the Polonia Brothers and I admire their brand of DIY, homemade genre fare — or trash as most people call it. Like most of their movies, Feeders 2: Slay Bells isn’t good by conventional standards nor is it one of their better efforts, but there is entertainment to be had watching Santa conquer paper mache alien puppets. – Kieran
76. Mother Krampus (2017)
Plot: A witch returns to haunt a cursed family and steal some children.
The original title of this movie is 12 Deaths of Christmas, but it was obviously re-imagined to cash in on that Krampus star power. The film is actually based on the legend of Frau Perchta, an Alpine legend who deserves better than this. – Kieran
75. Caesar and Otto’s Deadly Xmas (2013)
Plot: A pair of half-brothers moonlighting as Santa Clauses see a co-worker flip his Santa hat.
Comedy, more so than any other genre, is subjective as hell, and while I find this film to be unfunny your mileage may vary. So where does that leave the rest of it? The story never amounts to much, the performances are loud, and the visuals are on your TV screen. But like I said, maybe you’ll find it funny. – Rob
74. The Elf (2017)
Plot: An elf doll is set free and sets out to kill the people on its naughty list.
I love a lot trash, but whoever thought The Elf was a good idea deserves a lump of coal this Christmas. The opening prologue hints at potential, but it doesn’t take long before watching it feels like a method of self-harm. – Kieran
73. Nixon and Hogan Smoke Christmas (2010)
Plot: A pair of stoners help save Christmas after Santa smokes a bad batch of zombie weed.
There’s a reason why movies like this are targeted towards people that like getting baked, but even the most undemanding stoner deserves better than this. There’s an art to comedies about getting blitzed. Let’s just say Nixon and Hogan are certainly no Cheech and Chong and leave it at that. – Kieran
72. Krampus: The Christmas Devil (2013)
Plot: A cop who escaped Krampus as a child believes the mythological creature has returned to snatch more kids.
When is a Krampus movie not a Krampus movie? (Aside from Mother Krampus above I mean.) When it’s a movie about two bums — Krampus and his brother Santa — who pass through a town populated by gun-toting citizens and felons. Krampus action is kept to a minimum in favor of gun fights, bar fights, and people yammering. – Rob
71. Christmas Slay (2015)
Plot: Three friends head to a cabin in the Bulgari–err Scottish woods where they’re terrorized by a psycho in a Santa suit.
As low budget Santa slashers go this is a British one. – Rob
70. Psycho Santa (2003)
Plot: To pass time on their drive to a holiday gathering, a husband tells his wife a series of horrifying stories about the legend of Psycho Santa.
While micro-budget films have limitations we have to accept, seeing Santa stalk the woods and junkyards in broad daylight hardly sets the tone for a Christmas-themed slaughter yarn. Unfortunately, that’s the least of this film’s problems and you should avoid it like laxative-laced eggnog. – Kieran
69. Santa Claws (1996)
Plot: A B-movie starlet is stalked by a deranged fan.
This movie was written and directed by John Russo, which is cool, but Russo isn’t known to direct good movies and this isn’t good. This is the sort of sleazy low budget fare that plans to win you over with boobies. I’d recommend doing what I did and bring this movie to a Christmas party to show to a bunch of friends that have no idea what they’re about to see. – Chris
68. Silent Night, Bloody Night: The Homecoming (2013)
Plot: A man attempts to sell the home his grandfather left him, but a crazed lunatic shows up with different plans.
This is a remake of a good, low budget film that works by being atmospheric and moody. Unfortunately, the remake gets rid of that moody atmosphere and replaces it with some sex and mediocre gore. Just like high school, this homecoming was nothing more than an utter disappointment. – Chris
67. Christmas Cruelty (2013)
Plot: Santa Claus is coming to town and he’s going to take a buzzsaw to your baby.
It’s essentially a series of torture and murder set-pieces as we witness a serial killing Santa goes nuts, but just know that the victims have it easy compared to anyone who decides to sit through this dreck. – Kieran
66. Dismembering Christmas (2015)
Plot: A group of high schoolers visit a cabin for the holidays and attract a madman with murderous habits.
If you’ve seen a slasher film before then you know what to expect here. – Kieran
65. Trees 2: The Root of All Evil (2004)
Plot: Genetically enhanced, flesh-hungry trees are causing chaos in a small town and it’s up to a pair of brave heroes to save Christmas for the residents.
I haven’t seen the first Trees movie, but it sounds like something I’d enjoy and apparently it did well enough to warrant this moderately entertaining sequel. Still, there needs to be more movies about killer Christmas trees, because they can do better than this. Until then, Jason Eisener’s short Treevenge remains the pinnacle of homicidal Christmas tree romps. – Kieran
64. Secret Santa (2015)
Plot: College friends celebrating the holidays with a secret Santa gift swap discover too late that someone else is in the giving mood.
The premise here has potential, and you can easily picture a 90s slasher populated by attractive CW stars being offed one by one with the very gifts they’ve received from their mysterious Santa. Unfortunately, that never happened leaving us instead with this poorly acted and shoddily shot romp. Some laughs do squeeze through, but their scarcity just makes the jokes that fall flat that much louder. – Rob
63. The Blackout (2009)
Plot: Tenements of an apartment building are stalked by hungry creatures on Christmas Eve.
If you want to blackout from boredom, this movie will do the trick. It clocks in at roughly 80 minutes, but it feels closer to two hours. – Kieran
62. Cannibal Claus (2016)
Plot: A mall Santa gets fired from his job and embarks on a spree of murder and cannibalism.
This little nasty was produced by The Sleaze Box, a company that specializes in ultra low-budget exploitation movies packed with gore and nudity. Basically, their movies live up to their name. – Kieran
61. Once Upon a Time at Christmas (2017)
Plot: Psychos dressed as Santa and Mrs. Claus target a small town over the twelve days before Christmas.
It’s clear that thought went into the script as there’s an engaging nature to character interactions and connections, but those strengths are repeatedly squashed by two of cinema’s most over the top and obnoxious antagonists. – Rob
60. Lucky Stiff (1988)
Plot: A down on his luck fool assumes he’ll be spending Christmas alone because no woman could ever possibly love him, but things start looking up when he meets a gorgeous woman who invites him over for Christmas dinner.
This was written by Pat Proft of Police Academy and Naked Gun fame, and it’s very much a comedy boasting that slapstick spirit… minus the funny gags. – Kieran
59. Silent Night, Bloody Night 2: Revival (2015)
Plot: A pair of siblings learn all about the dark history of their dead brother’s hometown, which runs much deeper than the scary legend of Black Peter.
When the most interesting parts of a film are scenes featuring re-used footage from the first installment — released 43 years prior — then don’t expect a holiday classic. But there are some interesting elements at play here to keep things interesting for the most part – Kieran
58. The Path (2012)
Plot: A paranoid husband spends Christmas with his wife and son at an isolated cabin, but when he suspects his wife is having an affair he loses control of his sanity and starts hallucinating.
Gustavo Salmerón’s strong performance makes this psychological thriller somewhat watchable; otherwise, it’s every bit as bland as the generic title. – Kieran
57. Two Front Teeth (2006)
Plot: A journalist and his cheating wife must put their differences aside to protect a magical reindeer nose from the evil vampire Clausferatu and his army of bloodsucking elves.
This silly, micro-budget caper was written and co-directed Jamie Nash, whose other writing credits include Lovely Molly, Exists, and V/H/S 2. We all have to start somewhere, right?. – Kieran
56. Krampus 2: The Devil Returns (2016)
Plot: The bum brothers return as Krampus and Santa come looking for more kiddies for their respective sacks.
The filmmakers behind Krampus: The Christmas Devil are back with a sequel that improves a single area — more dead kids! — while doubling down on what didn’t work the first time around. The film once again leaves the supernatural as a subplot while focusing on the gun-play between cops and thugs instead. We get it. You’re proud NRA members. Can we get a damn Krampus movie already? – Rob
55. Infinite Santa 8000 (2013)
Plot: Set in a post-apocalyptic world, it’s up to cyborg Santa to fight the robots, mutants, and the 100-foot tall Easter Bunny if he wants to keep the Christmas spirit alive.
Infinite Santa 8000 isn’t the holiday animated adventure the whole family can enjoy, but kudos to director Michael Neel for trying something different and original. – Kieran
54. Krampus: The Reckoning (2013)
Plot: An abused foster child befriends Krampus, the dark companion to Saint Nicholas that punishes those that are naughty.
I’m pretty sure this is an allegory for child abuse with really bad digital effects and a creeper police detective. This film does score some bonus points for having a scene take place in Seamus McCaffrey’s, an Irish pub in downtown Phoenix that I used to frequent. If you’ve never been to McCaffrey’s, though, there is no bonus for you. – Chris
53. Krampus Unleashed (2016)
Plot: Some treasure hunters accidentally awake Krampus, and he’s angry about that.
This is the second Krampus movie on this list from director Robert Conway (Krampus: The Reckoning). You would think if one director was going to make two different Krampus movies that Krampus would have the same mythos, but that is not the case. This film does offer up some practical effects with the creature which makes it far better than Conway’s previous film. It’s still not good at all, but I’ll take the slight improvement as a step in the right direction. – Chris
52. Mercy Christmas (2017)
Plot: A chubby loner is held captive by a family of cannibals who want to make him their Christmas main course.
Mercy Christmas is another entry in the festive cannibal comedy subgenre. And while it’s attempt to blend the holiday family comedy with torture porn is admirable, it never quite gels. But there is a great scene where a granny gets punched with an iron at least. – Kieran
51. Elves (1989)
Plot: Grizzly Adams is Santa Claus, and he must stop a Nazi elf from impregnating a woman and ushering in the Third Reich.
Most people don’t understand this film’s magic. However, there is a certain kind of film fan who appreciates this trash and in our eyes, Elves is one of the greatest “bad” horror movies ever made. – Kieran