Scary-ish Christmas Movies

Christmas is that time of year when Halloween fans patiently wait for the family to fall asleep, turn off Miracle on 34th Street, add some extra spirit into their eggnog, and relax with a yuletide scary movie. For me the perfect mix is something that isn't too bleak but still mischievous and entertaining. Perhaps I'm getting softer in my old age, or perhaps I enjoy Christmas more now. Anyhoo, serial killers are not my cup of bone tea and so many holiday horror films are instantly disqualified. Here are my absolutely favorites.

1. Krampus (2015)
Yes, it's still in theaters but this instant classic is going into heavy holiday rotation. If you haven't seen it, get thee to a cinema immediately.

2. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)
This Finnish film is one of the best holiday-horror hybrids. It tells the story of the "real" Santa and his demon elves. It's also a strangely touching coming-of-age story and feels like a lost early-Steven Spielberg/Tim Burton collaboration. It's beautifully shot and a well-made movie. Highly recommended.

3. Sint (or Saint Nick) (2010)
This Dutch horror-comedy depicts St. Nicholas as a much darker spirit, who goes on a revenge-fueled killing spree on the 5th of December (the day many European countries celebrate Sinterklaas). It's a little over-the-top by American standards, but it's fascinating to see how another culture celebrates and melds Christmas with horror. The DVD version with subtitles is better than the poorly-dubbed version available on streaming.

4. Gremlins (1984)
This is a great reminder that you should pick gifts carefully and thoughtfully. One fuzzy and cute critter turns into many malevolent and mischievous creatures when fed after midnight! Hijinks ensue once hundreds of gremlins terrorize a small town on Christmas. 

5. Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Tim Burton's 1993 masterpiece does double duty on both the Halloween and Christmas fronts. However, during the holidays, the Christmas elements seem to stand out so much more. It has incredible heart and the perfect ending for a warm, fuzzy holiday.

6. Disney's A Christmas Carol (2009)
The perennial ghost story is re-envisioned with motion capture CGI and features an almost unidentifiable Jim Carrey. It's much darker, somber, and creepy take on the classic story. Set in a desolate and cold Victorian mansion, there's a weird candle person thing and the scenes with the ghosts are downright scary.  The international posters set the tone for the film much better than their American versions that tried very hard to sell the jolly, heartwarming tale (which it sort of is ultimately). This is a great movie to watch with your younger nephews and nieces – it will scare the Christmas right out of them – and you won't be that weird uncle that keeps pushing horror films year-round.

Have a Scary Christmas!