The Dark Side of Yuletide:'' 10 Scary Christmas Movies to Watch If You Love Horror

From Krampus to The Nightmare Before Christmas, here are the best Christmas horror movies to watch this season

Photo: Universal Pictures

The notion of watching horror movies on Christmas seems downright heretical. After all, the yuletide season is supposed to bring cheer and goodwill toward your fellow man. But there's a certain segment of the population that likes to cut that mirth with some more subversive fun.

If you're one of those people looking to add a little spookiness to the holiday season, you've come to the right place. Whether you're wanting some fun scares like Tim Burton's musical movie The Nightmare Before Christmas or something downright terrifying like the horror film Krampus, we've rounded up just a handful of titles that explore the dark side of yuletide below.

Tales From the Crypt (1972)

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Not the HBO series but a British adaptation of several of the original comic stories — including "All Through the House," a very creepy segment about a murderess menaced by an escaped mental patient who just happens to be dressed like Santa Claus. Joan Collins plays the lead with exactly the kind of proto-Alexis Colby bearing you'd expect, and yes, there's a bit of a twist ending.

Watch Tales from the Crypt on Tubi

Home for the Holidays (1972)

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A TV movie and a slasher at that, this forgotten gem features Sally Field, Julie Harris, Jessica Walter, and The Sound of Music baroness herself, Eleanor Parker. There's a certain segment of PEOPLE readership who read that sentence and immediately started watching. You're welcome.

Watch Home for the Holidays on Prime Video

Black Christmas (1974)

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Stalking into theaters a full four years before Michael Meyers started bothering babysitters in Halloween, this slasher has Margot Kidder, Olivia Hussey and Andrea Martin playing sorority girls fleeing a mystery killer during Christmas. It's a decent little thriller, and here's the kicker: The director, Bob Clark, also directed A Christmas Story. Follow up this viewing with the 2006 remake on Hulu or Prime Video.

Watch Black Christmas on Prime Video

Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

Mary Evans/Ronald Grant/Everett Collection

Another slasher, this one is probably most famous for creating a controversy when the movie-going public objected to the idea of someone dressing up as Santa Claus and killing people. And that's not too surprising, considering how many children are already terrified of the regular, non-murderous Santa. Neither well-reviewed nor that successful financially, Silent Night, Deadly Night ultimately spawned four sequels and a remake.

Watch Silent Night, Deadly Night on Prime Video

Gremlins (1984)

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The Steven Spielberg-produced film made $153 million, proving movie-goers' desire to see Christmas cheer mixed with mayhem. You might consider Gremlins more of a comedy than a horror movie, but many of the films on this list blend scares and laughter. This one does both well, in addition to satirizing some of the more commercial aspects of the holiday season.

Watch Gremlins on HBO Max

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

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Is it a kids' movie? An all-ages movie? A Halloween movie? A Christmas movie? The answer is yes, and Disney-sanctioned though it all may be, The Nightmare Before Christmas doesn't skimp on the creepy and scary. It's rated PG, but it's a fairly hard PG, you know?

Watch The Nightmare Before Christmas on Disney +

Santa's Slay (2005)

Santa's Slay
Media 8 Entertainment

Based on the trailer and the fact that it stars pro-wrestler Goldberg as an evil Santa Claus, you might be inclined to pass on this one. However, that less-than-stellar premise belies the fact that this comedy-slasher boasts an oddly eclectic cast that includes Fran Drescher, Chris Kattan, Rebecca Gayheart, Dave Thomas and Emilie de Ravin. Yeah, we thought that was surprising, too.

Watch Santa's Slay on Prime Video

Black Christmas (2006)

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A remake of the 1974 version, the new one features Katie Cassidy, Michelle Trachtenberg and Lacey Chabert as the imperiled sorority sisters and Andrea Martin, star of the original, as the house mom. It goes off in a very different direction, and it's written and directed by the guy who wrote the first Final Destination, if that's any indication of what goes down. And whereas the original largely plays it straight, this one offers humor along with the horror.

Watch Black Christmas on Prime Video

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)

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After all this, it hardly sounds strange that a Finnish horror-adventure fantasy movie exists about reindeer herders fighting an undead Santa who, from beyond the grave, controls an army of "helper elves" who kidnap naughty children, does it? No, wait: Yes, that does actually sound super weird even still.

Watch Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale on Hulu

Krampus (2015)

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The film centers around Krampus, a creature from Germanic folklore that acts as a sort of anti-Santa Claus, punishing the wicked. That's essentially what this horned monster does in the movie. And while there are surely people shocked that such a movie would be released around Christmas, it's just the most recent in a long tradition of festive horror.

Watch Krampus on Peacock

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