Now that the National Christmas Tree has been lit and the inside of every store is red, green and silver, it seems that we’ve reached that special time of year where D.C. has been encased in garland for the holidays. It is also becoming very cold, and although there are great movies to watch out at theaters, you would rather stay inside. There are literally hundreds of Christmas-themed movies available on home video, and most of them are very bad.
But what movies do horror fans get for Christmas every year? Usually it’s a litany of cutesy mush that they are diametrically opposed to. So, for those of you who prefer your reds and greens to be entrails and vomit, there does exist a handful of holiday films that might be right for you. Most include evil Santas that want to give you coal in your stocking and an axe to your face.
I will only vouch for the quality of the first four on the list. I’ve included the rest for those who might be curious. Anyway, you know what you’re getting into if you choose to watch any of these movies. So, here are 10 unusual Christmasploitation movies for the holidays:
Inside (À l’intérieur) (R) (2007) A woman who lost her husband in a car wreck is alone and very pregnant on Christmas Eve. Another woman arrives at her doorstep, and it ain’t to sing carols or spread Holiday cheer. She wants to take the unborn baby the woman is carrying. A clever and horrifying little French film. Not for the squeamish.
Gremlins (PG) (1984) I want a Mogwai for Christmas! In this cute comedy produced by Steven Spielberg, a boy gets an unusual pet for Christmas. Unfortunately, the adorable little fluff ball turns into a monster when you don’t follow some specific rules. Fun for all ages and, like The Nightmare Before Christmas, has become both a Halloween and Christmas staple.
Black Christmas (R) (1974) One of the early slasher films, this film by Bob Clark is set in a sorority house just at Christmas gets underway. A film that has aged only because of all the imitators we get every year. Sets up a who-done-it with a creepy prank caller, utilizing the “Baby Sitter” urban legend that would be done slightly better in When a Stranger Calls (1979). Despite its wrinkles, it’s still a fun watch.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (PG) (1993) Tim Burton’s stop-motion animated musical comedy has become a holiday staple for both Christmas and Halloween. Follow the leader of Halloweentown as he becomes obsessed with Christmas. It has great music and animation, and is probably the only movie on this list that you can watch with your whole family around Christmas time.
P2 (R) (2007) Here is another film that takes place on Christmas eve. In the film, a woman is terrorized by a parking garage attendant who has been stalking her. An only halfway decent thriller that seems to be going through the motions. It’s well directed, but the dithering acting job by its lead villain can tend to bring you out of the film.
Jack Frost (R) (1997) This film caught people’s attention with its box cover, which featured a holographic image of a cute snowman that morphed into a creepy skull as you walked by. The film has gained cult status in the “so-bad-it’s-good” category due to its laugh-inducing “special” effects and stupefying acting. The film is about a serial killer who gets his genetic material crossed with snow in a head-on collision with a car carrying sciencey stuff.
Silent Night, Deadly Night (R) (1984) A film that caused a stir when it was released because of its poster, which featured an axe-wielding Santa making his way down a chimney. The film itself ended up being just a B-grade slasher flick about a boy whose parents were killed by a man in a Santa costume and eventually grows up to be a psycho. Typical 80s horror schlock that can be fun if you’re in the right mood.
Don’t Open Till Christmas (R) (1984) This British slasher is about a man who goes out killing anybody dressed as Santa. This film was even bad in the cannon of 80s slashers. Poorly acted, awfully shot, this one you can skip. Recently released on DVD.
Christmas Evil (You Better Watch Out) (R) (1980) Yet another slasher that has gained a cult following. When the naughty Santa from this film was younger, he saw Santa groping mommy under the Christmas tree and has never been quite right since. He now sleeps in a Santa outfit and eventually goes on a killing spree. A cleverly directed film that seems full of promise, but runs out of steam in the second half.
The Gingerdead Man (NR) (2005) The best part of this film is it’s packaging, featuring a hilarious knife-brandishing cookie monster. In the film, Gary Busey is electrocuted after killing two people. But when his witch mother gets the ashes, he is resurrected into a psychopathic confection. This is pure camp by Full Moon Entertainment, and you’re either in on the joke, or you simply don’t like the overwrought style. I find it irritating.
Here are the rest. Well over half of them I have not seen, so proceed with caution: Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (1987), Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out (1989), Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation (1990), Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker (1991), Silent Night, Bloody Night (1974), Silent Night, Zombie Night (2009), Black Christmas (2006), Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Snowman (2000), The Gingerdead Man 2: The Passion of the Crust (2008), The Gingerdead Man 3: Saturday Night Cleaver (2011), Last Stop on the Night Train (1975), One Hell of a Christmas (2002), Santa Claws (1996), Santa’s Slay (2005), Deadly Little Christmas (2008), The Children (2009) and Saint (Sint) (2010) (to be released to DVD on 12/20).