‘Tis the season for Christmas horror film-watching

true-mcmanis-1By True McManis


One of my favorite Halloween traditions is the annual viewing of scary movies, and I think Christmas would benefit from this same tradition.

Even with this potentially incredible concept, most Christmas-horror films are horrible, and this turns a lot of people off to the concept completely. With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of five Christmas-horror films that should go down as essential viewing for anyone wanting to spice up their December.

My favorite Christmas movie ever is “Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale.” This Finnish film was based on a short from 2003 involving hunters that track down and capture Santa. The movie is about a company excavating an ancient burial ground in a rural area of Finland. Unsurprisingly, things go horribly wrong and the local residents are forced to fight off an ancient horror on Christmas Eve. The acting is great, and the suspense is extremely well-done. The movie is charming, creepy and incredibly entertaining.

For anyone wanting to experience the wonderful Christmas horror movie experience, but not wanting to commit to a full movie, the short film, “Treevenge,” is perfect. The short B-movie is under 20 minutes and features the enchanting story of Christmas trees revolting in a quest for revenge on humans. The movie is over the top from the start to the end, with a great intro featuring chainsaw-wielding lumberjack maniacs cutting down a group of innocent Christmas trees. For the most part, the acting is subpar, but some of the performances really shine, particularly with the actors playing trees. “Treevenge” is available free on YouTube, and is a great choice for something short and hilarious.

Many people are familiar to some extent with the “Halloween” series, but the original “Halloween” was largely influenced by “Black Christmas,” a 1972 film considered one of the earliest slasher movies. “Black Christmas” originated the concept of an ambiguous killer in the slasher genre, and has much better suspense than a lot of other movies in the genre. The plot focuses on a killer stalking residents of a sorority house while living in the attic. The film is filled with interesting shots and the sound is well-done. The killer is rarely seen, and this works wonders for the movie. Also available free on YouTube, anyone with an interest in slashers should definitely give “Black Christmas” a chance.

“Gremlins” is a classic Christmas film that probably falls more under black comedy than horror, but definitely has some aspects of both genres. While the movie may not be particularly scary, it’s a dark Christmas classic that ends up being much funnier than either “Bad Santa” or “Bad Santa 2.” Filled with fun, satire and over-the-top mayhem, “Gremlins” is a must-see for anyone that’s missed it.

For a full-length, Christmas-horror B movie, “Christmas with the Dead” is hard to beat. “Christmas with the Dead” focuses on a man who survived a zombie apocalypse one Christmas, and decides to coexist with the zombies, thinking of them as simply sick people, after discovering they enjoy dancing to music he plays. The film was written by Joe R. Lansdale, the Texas writer behind “Cold in July,” “Bubba Ho-Tep” and “The Bottoms.” The film is insane and incredibly corny, but packs a lot of fun and humor. Filmed in Texas, many of the zombies were played by residents of Nacogdoches.


E-mail McManis at mcmanis@student.uiwtx.edu


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