Recent seasonal chiller Better Watch Out throws us into an altogether more ghoulish side of Christmas, as a young girl's festive babysitting job takes a grisly turn. Check out the trailer below.
The release of the movie teaches us an important lesson: don't make the mistake of thinking Christmas is all about carols, presents and general festive fun. There's a darker side to Yuletide that has given rise to some pretty awesome movies... Come with us on a journey into the more sinister side of the festive season...
Tales from the Crypt
Why we love it: Only one part of this delightfully ghoulish anthology movie revolves around Christmas. But it's almost certainly the best one, as murderous housewife Joan Collins is terrorised in her own home by a homicidal Santa. Trust us, it's a lot creepier than it sounds, and adds a brilliantly sour, nasty edge to the schmaltzy Christmas spirit.
Why we love it: Ineffectually remade in 2006, director Bob Clark's classic slasher movie benefits from its unique seasonal setting. When a group of sorority sisters are targeted by a serial killer, they must band together in order to survive. Thought buying presents was fraught with danger? Try sparing a thought for these imperilled characters.
Why we love it: Director Joe Dante's calling-card movie, this brilliantly anarchic black comedy focuses on a small-town invasion of mischievous monsters during the holiday season. Not only is the lead character's mother attacked by a Gremlin hiding in a Christmas tree; the little devils also disguise themselves as carollers and promptly dispatch the town's most reviled resident Mrs. Deagle in hilarious fashion. And let's not forget about that Santa Claus scene. Check it out here.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Why we love it: Remember, this brilliantly inventive stop-motion musical was not directed by Tim Burton; he came up with the concept and designs but realising the movie's delightfully twisted landscape fell to Henry Selick. Scored to the peerless Danny Elfman's memorable songs, this cult classic expertly traverses the divide between the terrifying and the heartwarming, as Pumpkin King Jack Skellington stumbles upon Christmas and feels an unexpected stirring of festive warmth within his bony frame.
Why we love it: Thought a Christmas horror movie required trees, stockings and other recognisable festive gubbins? This ingenious chiller puts paid to such a notion. Set largely within the confines of a single car, it's the story of one family who take a short cut on their way to their annual Christmas Eve dinner with the in-laws. Big mistake! It's both scary and funny at the same time, the various inter-character arguments surely striking a chord with all those who've suffered their relatives at this time of year.
Why we love it: Sometimes a good Christmas horror is all the more creepy for being grounded in reality. Case in point: this eerie movie from British director Tom Shankland, in which a festive holiday goes horribly wrong after a group of children turn against their parents. Forgoing supernatural trappings in favour of something more recognisably ordinary, it's an overlooked gem.
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale
Why we love it: Hollywood directors aren't the only ones to have turned Christmas inside out. There's also a rich tradition of movies drawing on European fairy and folk tales, one of the best being this brilliantly bizarre Finnish offering. When a group of reindeer herders stumble across a burial mound, they unexpectedly unearth the original incarnation of the Santa Claus myth: a far-from-friendly supernatural being intent on punishing the naughty. Don't get on his bad list!
Why we love it: The infamous 'shadow of St. Nick' takes centre stage in this terrifically nostalgic throwback to the likes of the aforementioned Joe Dante. When a young kid's dysfunctional family gather for their annual, bitter Christmas get-together, his lack of festive spirit manifests the titular Krampus – but not before the monstrous presence unleashes some minions in the form of killer toys and gingerbread men. Expertly mixing big laughs and genuinely skin-crawling scares, it's a treat.
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