With Christmas time rolling around again it’s easy to feel like you’ve explored every avenue of holiday entertainment. Small child living out his wildest torture fantasies in suburban Chicago? *Yawn* old news, everyone’s seen Home Alone. Creepy Disney body horror about a man slowly making a kafka-esque transformation into a folkloric old man? BORING! You’ve watched The Santa Clause five times already. But don’t fear! Here at Nerdist we love Christmas in all of its forms, even in its really grotesque, terrifying, or bootleg versions. This December we’ve collected nine of the weirdest, wackiest, and wonkiest Christmas tales ever for you to enjoy when reruns of Miracle on 34th Street get too much.
Don’t Open till Christmas (1984)
“Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring…
they were all dead!”
This bonkers British horror tells the wonderfully twisted tale of a killer terrorizing the foggy streets of London and targeting men dressed as Santa! Yes, it’s as delightfully silly as it sounds, as a harried inspector from London’s famed Scotland Yard has to track down the mysterious murderer. DOTC comes from the producers behind another low budget beauty, Pieces, which is similarly outrageous.
Christmas Evil (1980)
“Better Watch Out… Better Not Cry… Or You May DIE!”
This 1980 cult classic has one of the most outrageous conceits behind a slasher ever: the murderous man at the center of the film was scarred after finding out that Santa wasn’t real! Dedicating his life to making toys for other Christmas loving children, he snaps after being mocked by his peers and embarks on a festive slaying spree. It also happens to be John Waters’ favorite Christmas movie, so what more could you ask for?
“It’s about flights of fantasy. And the nightmare of reality.
Terrorist bombings. And late night shopping.
True Love. And creative plumbing.”
Terry Gilliam’s bleak satire about a slapstick, absurdist, consumer driven dystopia is easily one of the best and most overlooked Christmas movies. The film is a true antidote to the corporate joy enforcement of your average family friendly holiday flick. It’s all set in the lead up to December’s biggest holiday so it’s full of Gilliam’s twisted take on the saccharine season. Bloody marvelous.
Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
“You’ve made it through Halloween, now try and survive Christmas”
Another cult Christmas slasher is Silent Night, Deadly Night, the terrifying tale of a department store Santa who goes on a killing spree after catching two people getting intimate and having flashbacks to his horrible childhood. This is probably one of the better known Christmas horrors, with its outrageous performances, lo-fi style, and notoriously bad/good sequel. A true gem for horror aficionados this holiday season.
Jack Frost (1998)
“Jack Frost is getting a second chance to be the world’s coolest dad… if he doesn’t melt first.”
You might think, oh what’s a lovely kids movie with Michael Keaton doing in this list? Well the answer is simple, this is one of the most terrifying movies ever made. It’s Chucky but with a snowman. Michael Keaton dies and comes back to life inside of a snowman–constantly at risk of melting into a grubby puddle–so he can be a better dad?!? If you’re looking for a secretly sinister movie this Christmas, Jack Frost is it.
Lady in the Lake (1947)
“Not Suitable For General Exhibition”
This classic Raymond Chandler adaptation is a surreal, noirish treat that begins three days before Christmas. Its iconic opening credits are scored by a vintage recording of Christmas songs, with the credits on Christmas cards. But the last card is removed to reveal… a GUN! Perfect for those lazy food coma afternoons where you need a festive thriller to get you through.
Black Christmas (1974)
“If this movie doesn’t make your skin crawl… it’s on TOO TIGHT”
Arguably the first modern slasher movie, Black Christmas is a stone cold horror classic. Atmospheric and creepy, this tale of a sorority house harassed by anonymous phone calls is a fantastically dark festive yarn. With complex women, a ridiculously great score, and a very creepy killer, this is one of the best Christmas horror movies ever made. An unmissable attraction for your creepy Christmas viewing.
“They’re not working for Santa anymore”
Ever thought, man there aren’t enough Christmas movies about elves who are accidentally summoned by Pagan teens, only to bring about the second coming of Hitler? Well then Elves is for you! This Z-movie classic is one of the best/worst ’80s oddities, including a lot of really messed up shirt that should never be in a Christmas movie. But if you love bad movies, bad practical effects, and exploitation, Elves is the holiday movie for you.
Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny (1979)
“The amazing story of Santa in big trouble…
And his exciting rescue by the daring ice cream bunny…
It’s breath-taking, fun for all.”
The tagline should tell you all you need to know about the wildly incomprehensible ’70s fever dream that is Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny. This magical madness sees Santa stuck on a Florida beach before telepathically connecting with some young people to help him deliver presents with the help of a gorilla, a lion, and a dog. We still haven’t even got to the Ice Cream Bunny yet… so you can imagine.
Will you be checking out any or Christmas cult classics? Any of your weird family favorites that we missed? Let us know in the comments!
Images: Pan American, AIP, Warner Bros, Universal, R&S, MGM, TriStar Pictures, 21st Century Pictures