Christmas is the season for spreading tidings of comfort, joy… and horror. Although it’s no Halloween, the December holiday still has its fair share of scary films — probably far more than you realize. But not all of these films are winners. There are loads of subpar Christmas horror movies out there — most with similar punny names — and finding good examples to watch can prove to be a daunting task. That’s why we’ve gathered up the 11 best Christmas horror movies of all time to make your holiday viewing schedule a little easier this year.
Not only the greatest Christmas horror movie ever, the 1980s classic from Joe Dante — which seamlessly blends comedic and horrific elements in its wildly inventive plot — might just be the greatest movie ever, period.
Although it was released only two years ago, this tongue-in-cheek fright fest — which draws its terrifying villain from actual Alpine folklore — is already regarded as a classic.
3. Christmas Evil
Without question one of the most disturbing Christmas movies ever made, this 1980 film may feature the most messed up origin story of any cinematic serial killer: As a child, Harry witnesses “Santa” (his dad in costume) molesting his mother on Christmas Eve, and because of this, grows up to become a murderer obsessed with Kris Kringle.
4. Black Christmas
While many credit 1978’s Halloween with popularizing the slasher genre, this superb example featuring a psycho killer in the attic of a sorority house over Christmas break predates that film by four years.
5. Silent Night, Deadly Night
Another slasher with a Santa-dressed killer who was traumatized by a Santa impersonator in his youth, this 1984 film was released at the height of the genre and ended up spawning a franchise as a result.
6. Rare Exports
A number of the best Christmas horror films come out of Europe, like this 2010 Finnish film about the real Santa Claus, who’s apparently a vicious demon.
7. Jack Frost
Jack Frost isn’t a good movie by any stretch — it’s incredibly dumb — but its the film’s sheer stupidity that makes it such a joy to watch. You’d think a serial killer snowman would be remarkably easy to stop, but nope!
“They’re not working for Santa anymore.” This absolutely bonkers B movie features a Nazi plot to conquer the world using demonic Christmas elves, stars Grizzly Adams‘ Dan Haggerty as an alcoholic cop-turned-department store Santa, and features some of the most mind-bogglingly terrible dialogue ever captured on film. In other words, it’s a must-see.
9. Better Watch Out
Released earlier this year, this home invasion horror/dark comedy plays like a more sadistic version of Home Alone. It’s even more twisted than the downright unhinged Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, if you can believe it.
10. Dead End
A mundane shortcut is taken by a family traveling to a relative’s house on Christmas Eve: What could go wrong? A lot, it seems, as this film finds loads of ways to surprise its audience.
Another European export, this Dutch film tells the story of Santa’s inspiration, Saint Nicholas, or Sinterklaas, who apparently becomes a murderous psychopath if there’s a full moon on December 5, St. Nicholas’ Eve. Note to self: Make sure to keep the fireplace roaring if there’s a full moon on December 5.