It's the longest night of the year, and that means it's the perfect time to cozy up with some favorite movies! The holiday season is in full swing, and we love ourselves some holiday horror, so we've rounded up the Fango troops and asked them all a very important question, "What's your favorite holiday horror?" The answers vary from "casually Christmas" to creature features, to full-on killer Santas and a fantastic in between. May we present, our FANGORIA staff picks — the holiday horror edition.
Angel, Digital Editor - Deadly Games AKA Dial Code Santa Claus (1989)
This movie may hold the record for most "AKA" alternate titles (I didn't even mention AKA 3615 code Père Noël AKA Game Over AKA Hide and Freak). But it's not just the cornucopia of alternate titles that make this a holiday staple, (though it sure doesn't hurt.) If you like Home Alone then you're going to love Deadly Games. Young Thomas is a baby genius with a mullet and an arsenal of Rambo cosplay and fancy gadgets he's invented with his own little hands. He lives in a mansion filled with booby traps, secret passageways, and the like. When a killer Santa invades his home, it's up to him to defend his turf, his grandfather, and his dog J.R. Bonus points for two of the most epic montage scenes in cinematic history. It's streaming on Shudder under Deadly Games so if this isn't already in your top three holiday horror rotation, get on it. (This was also on Jason's list because he has impeccable taste).
Phil, Editor In Chief - Deep Red (1975)
How much Christmas is required to make a horror movie a Christmas horror movie? Well, DEEP RED, the most giallo film to ever be called a giallo, has precisely one Christmas scene — a flashback glimpsed in the opening moments of the film, and played out in full near the conclusion — but we say that’s enough to qualify. A little Italian boy in short pants and knee socks, watching his mother brutally stab his father to death in front of the Yule tree - that’s what Christmas means to me. Watch Deep Red now.
Jason, Creative Director - The X-Files: "How the Ghosts Stole Christmas" (1998)
Season 6, Episode 6. Mulder drags Scully out to an old mansion on Christmas Eve to check out the rumors of ghosts that formed a lovers’ pact before killing each other on Christmas in 1917. In an X-Files spin on The Christmas Carol, this is a bottle episode written and directed by Christ Carter, and it featured the smallest cast of any X-Files episode with only four actors and a single set. A fun Christmas episode of The X-Files with guest appearances by Ed Asner and Lily Tomlin as the ghosts that play tricks on Mulder and Scully. You can watch this episode now on Hulu.Watch The X-Files now.
Armen, SVP TV + Film - Rare Exports (2010)
A well-crafted original story. Masterfully balances humor, parody, and horror without letting us know it's in on the jokes. [Editor's note: I can't believe Armen didn't mention the army of naked, evil, elves. They're scary, and they do a lot of running. If nude snow sprinting were an Olympic sport, these dudes would be gold medalists.] Watch Rare Exports now.
Ariel, Managing Editor - Christmas Evil (1980)
The controversial Silent Night, Deadly Night often gets top billing as the trauma-induced Christmas horror movie to beat them all. I, however, have always been more partial to the infinitely bleaker Christmas Evil. Where Billy was traumatized by watching his parents’ murder, Harry Stadling (played by Fiona Apple’s dad, the incredibly talented Brandon Maggart) saw mommy getting eaten out by Santa Claus (his dad in costume), resulting in a Christmas obsession. As a grown man, he lives in perpetually stunted adolescence surrounded by Christmas paraphernalia and works at the local toy factory. After being pushed around by his shitty company and shitty coworkers on Christmas, he snaps and decides he has to reward the good little girls and boys and punish the naughty ones. The result is a grimly compelling portrait of a man who never grew up and can’t come to terms with unchecked amorality, selfishness, and cruelty. Now streaming on Shudder.
Jimmy, Operations Manager- Gremlins (1984)
Hands down, my pick is Gremlins. It was the first horror film that I ever saw, and I wish I could remember how the hell I tricked my Mom into taking me to see it. Maybe seeing Steven Spielberg’s name attached and all the cute Gizmo toys made her think it was a film for kids. I do, however, remember begging her to stay once it started to get too scary. Sure it was probably too scary for me at that age, but I loved it! After we left the theater, I was hooked, and I wanted a Spike, not a fluffy Gizmo. My Mom was reluctant, yet she still bought me one that I still have to this day. My kids still can’t handle scary things, but I hope to introduce them to the film next year.
Abhi, Co-Owner- Gremlins (1984)
[Editor's note: Yes, we are doubling up on this one because it's Gremlins.]
Gremlins because it reminds me of being young, with family and cousins, sleeping bags on the living room floor, and falling in love with scary movies. Watch Gremlins now.
Jason, Creative Director - Prometheus (2012)
Idris Elba is putting up a Christmas tree in the movie. Boom. It’s a holiday movie. Plus there are aliens and it’s directed by Ridley Scott. I don’t need to justify this movie with more words. Watch Prometheus now.
Ariel, Managing Editor - Krampus (2015)
Michael Dougherty already solidified his place in the horror hall of fame with his absolute banger Halloween anthology, Trick ‘r Treat. Well, he continued to make amazing holiday horror with Krampus almost ten years later and made what I consider to be a new Christmas classic. It’s a brilliant mix of holiday family chaos (because what Christmas movie is complete without family drama?) and a creature feature with a dash of dreadful holiday whimsy. Krampus should be held in the same regard as Gremlins; it’s just as fun and infinitely less kid-friendly. It packs just the right amount of holiday cheer with truly terrifying stakes, and I can’t wait to rewatch it every season. Watch Krampus now.
Angel, Digital Editor - Silent Night (2021)
The newest entry on our list, some have said this movie is bleak, but I would argue against that. Is it dark? About as dark as the winter night on this solstice. BUT dark does not necessarily mean bleak. Some of the subject matter may hit a little too close to home after we've spent the better part of two years with the real-life horror of inadvertently harming one another by simply exhaling. However, the humor in this is so rich that I was deep belly laughing in the dark and dabbing at the tears in my eyes. It's dark, but it isn't bleak or mean, and the potentially too-close-to-home aspect is large enough to put a semi-fantastical spin on it, which moves the needle just far enough into fiction.
And the main reason it's on my list — what this movie really did, is it made me take stock of what's truly important. It made me think of the people I love the most. How do we confront a seemingly impossible situation? With a blend of dark humor and a hell of a lot of love. These last couple of years have certainly provided us with perspective, and this movie offers the same. It's not about the boxes and the bows, it's about what we do with the time we have and the people we choose to spend our time with. And the realization of... does it ever feel like enough? My money is on probably not. And so let's make the most of our time together while we have it. Maybe a mug of hot chocolate and some of the movies on this list with some of your favorite people are a good start tonight. Happy holidays.
Silent Night is now streaming.