60. Once Upon A Time At Christmas (2017)

Dir. Paul Tanter

Starring: Simon Phillips, Sayla de Goede, Laurel Brady

Ever wish for a slasher movie based on the “12 Days Of Christmas?” That is Once Upon A Time At Christmas, the only low-budget slasher flick to feature a “drummers only” music event (gotta find those 12 drummers drumming somewhere). Two psychopaths play Santa and Mrs. Claus (“be Harley Quinn, except at Christmas” is presumably the only direction Mrs.’s actress received), as they axe their way through a small New York town driven by the night’s song lyric. Sounds like fun, but Santa didn’t bring an effects budget or technical showmanship in his bag this year it seems. Boo-hoo-hoo.

59. The Gingerdead Man (2005)

Dir. Charles Band

Starring: Gary Busey, Robin Sydney, Ryan Locke, Larry Cedar

Is The Gingerdead Man truly Christmas Horror? A doughy delinquent’s murder spree isn’t tethered to the Xmas holiday itself, but when else do you eat gingerbread? Plus, how do I NOT include a possessed inanimate object flick that stars Gary Busey? It’s not very good – and the sequels have even less festive connection so they’re not included – but hey, you can’t have Christmas without milk and cookies.

58. Two Front Teeth (2006)

Dir. David Thomas Sckrabulis, Jamie Nash

Starring: Johnny Francis Wolf, Megan Pearson

Never did I imagine one Xmas Horror film could contain zombie elves, “Clausferatu” and a massive Easter Bunny werewolf. Nor did an Xmas-Files “X-Files” ripoff ever seem possible. Yet, here we are discussing Two Front Teeth – an inventive genre jingle that sticks nary a landing. At least you’ll get two or three hilariously bad seasonal sex puns in the very first scene? “C’mon baby, Santa’s chestnuts are roasting!”

57. Jack Frost 2: Revenge Of The Mutant Killer Snowman (2000)

Dir. Michael Cooney

Starring: Christopher Allport, Doug Jones, Jennifer Lyons, Scott MacDonald, Ian Abercrombie

The first time I ever watched this Jack Frost sequel was pre-horror obsession. Up late one night, with endless cable stations at my choosing. “A killer snowman movie that takes place on a paradise resort? Cooing snowballs? I’m in.” Easy choice, right? Well, let’s just say execution is just as wonky as the description – hammy performances, insane kills that lack the spirit of the original frosty spree. It’s the “…In Space” kind of sequel to a franchise yet to be established past one lucky dice-roll. And there’s a reason why Jack hasn’t been heard from since.

56. To All A Goodnight (1980)

Dir. David Hess

Starring: Jennifer Runyon, Kiva Lawrence, Sam Shamshak

Oh, no. To All A Goodnight is bad. Very bad. The first 30 seconds alone are enough to enrage any slasher fan, as writer Alex Rebar and maestro David Hess take less than a minute to establish the film’s driving motivation – a sorority murder on Christmas (I think?). Then the credits speedily kick in, some womanly types invite boys over and they start getting slashed apart by a killer Santa because…? Oh right. That blink-and-you-miss-it intro clip. Dialogue is cracker stale, performances you’d expect from actors who never worked again and kills wholly lost to shoddy camera work. It gets better, I promise.

55. Elves (1989)

Dir. Jeff Mandel

Starring: Dan Haggerty, Julie Austin, Deanna Lund

What a perfected cheesefest for midnight watches fueled by spiked eggnog or coco. From the film’s insane story – “A young woman discovers that she is the focus of an evil Nazi experiment involving selective breeding and summoned elves, an attempt to create a race of supermen” – to a single elf puppet whose face doesn’t even come with moving parts (even though the movie is titled “Elves” plural), this is so-bad-it’s-good as only the ’80s and Dan Haggerty can deliver. I mean, a sober mall Santa who constantly spouts exposition by talking to himself has to save a teenager who’s slapped by her Grandpa and abused by her mother all within the first 10 minutes – and then the murderous elf shows up followed by Nazi goons. 20/10 entertainment rating, 1.5/5 cinematic value. Your choice (but watch it).

54. Silent Night, Zombie Night (2009)

Dir. Sean Cain

Starring: Jack Forcinito, Andy Hopper, Lew Temple, Vernon Wells, Felissa Rose

“Always love when my zombie movies turn out to be love-triangle dramas,” he says with extreme sarcasm. It’s Christmas and a two LAPD partners find themselves waiting out the zombie apocalypse with one of their wives – whom the other loves. There’s some gore and bloody makeup gashes, but gunshots are CGI and far too much scene work is spent unspooling this overplayed web of “two love interests, one wife.” No balance, no treats, just a forgettable rom-zom-dram.

53. Secret Santa (2015)

Dir. Mike McMurran

Starring: Annette Wozniak, Brent Baird, Tony Nash

How there hasn’t been a seasonal slasher titled “Secret Santa” before 2015 is beyond this genre reviewer, but here it is, for better and worse. Typical drunk Christmas fun-seekers attempt to hook up, get wasted and trade presents. Expected slasher villain starts picking them off one by one. The problem? We never care because most these exaggerated student stereotypes are so annoying we pray for their swift demise, no matter how hard you try to play nice for Santa. One or two fun kills, but the party’s over before it even begins.

52. Dismembering Christmas (2015)

Dir. Austin Bosley

Starring: Baker Chase Powell, Johnathon Krautkramer, Leah Wiseman, Nina Kova

Your standard “friends gather in the woods, are warned of local legends but party irresponsibly anyway.” Minimum budget, some fun kills (razor wreath and candy cane pain) but ultimately everything you’ve seen before. The first IMDB trivia note says this is “the first Slasher Studios film not to have any direct homages to previous horror films” – but, I mean, wasn’t the sledding kill directly Silent Night, Deadly Night? At the very least?

51. Red Christmas (2016)

Dir. Craig Anderson

Starring: Dee Wallace, Geoff Morrell, David Collins, Sarah Bishop, Janis McGavin

The casting of Dee Wallace doesn’t make for an instant holiday horror classic. Don’t get me wrong, Red Christmas goes for some gory kills, but man, cinematography and lensing recreates an HD home recording, and we’re not even talking “found footage.” Mix that with an abortion subtheme and a slasher villain whose mask does little to strike fear and yeah, you’ve got yourself a “red” Christmas. Also “grating,” “underdeveloped” and “too reliant on kills.”

50. Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 3: Better Watch Out! (1989)

Dir. Monte Hellman

Starring: Samantha Scully, Bill Moseley, Eric DaRe, Laura Harring, Robert Culp

Only in the Silent Night, Deadly Night franchise does a slasher about telepathy, a recast Ricky Caldwell (now Bill Moseley), and an exposed cranial dome not out-weird the other entries. A shame too, because obscurity is just about the only thing Monte Hellman has going for his production – the movie itself deceptively stale, and rather actionless. No memorable killing sprees like Part 2 or lunatic performances. Better Watch Out! comes and goes quicker than a bottle of vino on Christmas Eve, barely deserving a mention in the annals of Christmas Horror glory.

49. The Dorm That Dripped Blood (1982)

Dir. Stephen Carpenter, Jeffrey Obrow

Starring: Daphne Zuniga, Laurie Lapinski, Stephen Sachs

Even for an ’80s slasher, very little substance of consequence occurs in The Dorm That Dripped Blood until a finale that tries to punk you something fierce. Misdirection like a brick to the face. Death sequences go practical with such utter dummification that some laughs are shared (a great drill-to-the-head bit with a plastered noggin), but alas, storytelling is not this collegiate goodwill project’s forte. Who would rather empty out a dormitory over going home for Christmas vacation, anyway?

48. Red Christmas (2014)

Dir. Steve Rudzinski

Starring: Amie Wrenn, Seth Gontkovic

Conceptually, Red Christmas strings festive streamers around gender-bashed slasher dynamics mixed with found footage torture porn. It’s a demented hybrid of so my genre styles, but even at 50-ish minutes long, characters end up repeating dialogue and effects find little new worth destroying. Extremely DIY, pitch-damn-dark, deceptively clever but ultimately a one-note slaughter with rubbery limbs and blood that shoots like a soda fountain dispenser. Not my cup o’ tea, but indie roadies out there shouldn’t be scared off.

47. All Through The House (2015)

Dir. Todd Nunes

Starring: Ashley Mary Nunes, Jessica Cameron

Upon the film’s first kill – a gruesome shower attack – slasher fans may think Santa has come early. In a very indie regard, gore effects assure nothing will be held back and it looks pretty damn good compared to similar affairs. But then? Lackluster ploting recycles the same scantily-clad “sex bimbos” formula since those who are at their most naked always seem to die. A male-gazy throwback no less, yet “shock” is used so much that severed wieners become an expectancy, not squeal-first surprise. Sex, death, and a literal bag of dicks gratify the film’s absurd trainwreck of a finale – a mother’s love gone one snip too far.

46. Don’t Open Till Christmas (1984)

Dir. Edmund Purdom

Starring: Edmund Purdom, Alan Lake, Belinda Mayne

Listen, I’m suspect numero uno when it comes to loving cheesy ’80s slashers. So why didn’t Don’t Open Till Christmas shine bright like a diamond in my eyes? Overreacting to the max, awkward cutaways, a Santa slaying fetish – all the makings of a great Xmas Horror entry, but execution is more off-putting than potent. From the producer of Pieces comes a very “From the producer of Pieces” seasonal genre flavor – I just wish the bow didn’t unravel so early on.

45. Infinite Santa 8000 (2013)

Dir. Michael Neel

Starring: Duane Bruce, Tara Henry, Michael Neel

It’s the dystopian future. Santa lives on a ranch with his robo-reindeer (Randolph, lol) and a rescue named Martha. Gladiatorial Thunderdome victories are the only way to collect food. Yup, this animated Mad Max retread is every ounce as madcap as descriptions suggest. Right down to Santa devouring the corpse of his enemy just to survive. A wonderful 45-minute gag, but clocking in over 90 minutes, this rough-around-the-edges cartoon gets old, onkey lobster monsters, flying lizard beasts, robot assassins and all.

44. The Path (2012)

Dir. Miguel Ángel Toledo

Starring: Gustavo Salmerón, Irene Visedo

Atmosphere? Schizophrenic visions? A solid leading effort from Gustavo Salmerón? The Path (La Senda) has all that. A chess player being bested by his own preoccupations and overanalysis, but is this even reality? That’s for you to decide as you stumble through this “seeing is maybe not believing” snow-covered thriller – a task that’s not always chills and excitement.

43. The Melancholy Fantastic (2016)

Dir. A.D. Calvo

Starring: Amy Crowdis, Robin Lord Taylor, Josh Caras

As Christmas horror goes, The Melancholy Fantastic might be the most far-flung relation when it comes to mainstream opinions. A girl, her cracked-face doll and crushing amounts of grief. A.D. Calvo knows a slow-burn (Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl gets a nod), but there’s a lot of dead air here that could have been reignited. Only worth a recommendation to the more “ambitious” seasonal “art-house horror” seekers.

42. Good Tidings (2016)

Dir. Stuart W. Bedford

Starring: Colin Murtagh, Claire Crossland

In this choppy ode to street-trash flicks of Troma past, three deranged psychopaths dress up like mall Santas and hack a commune of homeless vagrants to death. The three murderers – dubbed Moe, Larry and Curly in the credits – use their holiday tools of destruction to inflict the largest amount of pain possible. Severed heads, bloody candy canes and more are the weapons of choice, but it’s an 80-minute plot dragged on an extra 20 minutes more than necessary.

41. Holidays (2016)

Dir. Scott Stewart (segment)

Starring: Seth Green, Clare Grant

Ranking based on the Christmas short, not Holidays as a whole. I rather liked this anthology film overall.

Scott Stewart’s (Legion) Christmas gift-giving disaster gets points for avoiding an easy holiday massacre, focusing instead on the impending cultural takeover of virtual reality headsets and internet databases. Seth Green stars as a distraught father who’ll do anything to snag a UVU headset (think Oculus Rift), in a very struggling-family-man-frustrated-with-life kind of way. Of course the toy store is sold out when Green arrives, but through unsavory means he secures the hot-ticket item. It’s one of those technological warning motifs, but a weaker “twist” ending ruins the larger potential inherent in the societal commentary. A great idea, but a bit underbaked.

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