40. Body (2015)

Dir. Dan Berk, Robert Olsen

Starring: Helen Rogers, Alexandra Turshen, Lauren Molina, Larry Fessenden

Three stoned/drunk girls decide to party in one of their uncle’s empty houses – key under the mat, no one home. Except, it’s not the uncle’s house? That’s when Larry Fessenden shows up – and promptly “dies” after a staircase stumble when the girls try to dash by the enraged groundskeeper. Let the morality boggling and blame-gaming begin – in a way that’s not terribly inviting and oddly macabre, unfortunately.

39. ATM (2012)

Dir. David Brooks

Starring: Alice Eve, Josh Peck, Brian Geraghty

One location, multiple bodies, and a nameless killer – check. No backbone, no real twist, just an exploitation of isolated trappings – boo. ATM wraps feeling incomplete and without meaning, like some bad PSA about the dangers of night snacking or late night cash withdrawals. Do everything you can to void this transaction.

38. P2 (2007)

Dir. Franck Khalfoun

Starring: Wes Bentley, Rachel Nichols

A single white female trapped in a parking garage. The “lonely” security guard who just wants to make a new friend. Franck Khalfoun does well in the first half of P2 to generate tension and terror as Angela (Rachel Nichols) tries to escape her company’s parking structure after nightwatchman Thomas (Wes Bentley) locks her in…then campy undertones become a mood-killing distraction. Bentley screaming like Howard Dean, too many “WHY IS SHE DOING THAT” moments and an aggressively brutal (re: not-needed) dog death make for a frustrating back half.

37. Black Christmas (2006)

Dir. Glen Morgan

Starring: Katie Cassidy, Michelle Trachtenberg, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Lacey Chabert, Kristen Cloke, Andrea Martin, Crystal Lowe, Oliver Hudson, Karin Konoval

As far as 2000s slasher remakes go, there is midnight fun to be had with this decades-jumping update. Sure, Billy and Agnes’ reveal is horrendously botched – forever my gripe – but some of you may have enough fun with sorority babes running for their lives. Take everything about the original, strip the dread, replace it with model sorority hotties of the decade and presto, you’ve got the Black Christmas remake.

36. Sint (2010)

Dir. Dick Maas

Starring: Egbert Jan Weeber, Caro Lenssen, Huub Stapel

Hungry B-movie lovers might enjoy Dick Maas’ holiday treat to horror fans, but for me, Saint (Sint) falls short of insta-cult worship compared to a film like Rare Exports. Watch for the gore and stay for evil pissed-off bishop Santa, just don’t expect high-quality dubbing (the only version readily available) or fleet-of-foot plotting. Kills are plentiful as jolly old Saint Nick doles out beheadings like fruitcakes on Christmas night,  yet even “Santa’s demonic look can’t spark the fun-filled genre feast that you’d expect.

35. Stalled (2013)

Dir. Christian James

Starring: Dan Palmer, Antonia Bernath, Mark Holden

Has there been a single-setting thriller from inside a bathroom stall yet? I don’t think so. During Christmas? Definitely not. With zombies? You’re speaking’ my language, Stalled. Even better is the very slapstick British sensibility of director Christian James and writer/actor Dan Palmer who evoke short bursts of Edgar Wright during his Spaced period, specifically a drug-trip hallway dance number with undead backup waltzers.

34. Mercy Christmas (2017)

Dir. Ryan Nelson

Starring: Steven Hubbell, Casey O’Keefe, Cole Gleason, Whitney Nielsen

You know what, Mercy Christmas is ridiculously farfetched and not very spooky, but it kinda’ works. A family of cannibals fret over Christmas dinner with the same holiday anxieties we all do, except their recipes are a bit different. This one reminds me of a New Zealand genre flick called Fresh Meat; comical and zany, the kind of script that names its lead captive Michael “Briskett” then never looks back. And you know what? It works if you don’t take it too seriously.

33. The Munsters’ Scary Little Christmas (1996)

Dir. Ian Emes

Starring: Sam McMurray, Ann Magnuson, Bug Hall, Sandy Baron, Mary Woronov, Elaine Hendrix

When you sign up for a Munsters Christmas special, you know exactly what to expect. Syndicated sight gags and super-cheesy family humor helps lil’ Eddie find the Christmas spirit once again. Santa turns into a fruitcake, elves chant “Silicon!” when fantasizing about supermodels (I heard that correctly, right?), over-the-top Creepsmas decorations displease neighbors and win over pretentious judges. This is expectedly enjoyable for Munsters fans and introductory holiday horror lovers alike.

32. Alien Raiders (2008)

Dir. Ben Rock

Starring: Carlos Bernard, Mathew St. Patrick, Rockmond Dunbar, Courtney Ford

Alien Raiders totally works a serious-but-silly ’90s vibe, because what’s more fun than an extraterrestrial invasion around Christmas? Everything goes haywire for a small-town supermarket when a parasitic “King” reveals itself and space monster hunters crash the party. Cue The Thing inspirations, squirmy gore and nifty creature effects. One of those perfectly suitable Netflix/VOD watches.

31. The Curse Of The Cat People (1944)

Dir. Gunther von Fritsch, Robert Wise

Starring: Simone Simon, Kent Smith, Jane Randolph

Blessed be a Hollywood era that understood marathon running lengths aren’t required to develop intricate stories. It only takes 70 minutes for The Curse of The Cat People to turn a child’s preference of imaginary friends over real ones into a mysterious tale of parental encouragement and inherent hang-ups. The little girl almost dies in the process, but everything ends with a hint of sweetness thanks to an interwoven ghost story.

30. Films To Keep You Awake: A Christmas Tale (2005)

Dir. Paco Plaza

Starring: Maru Valdivielso, Pau Poch, Ivana Baquero, Elsa Pataky, Daniel Casadellà

A Christmas Tale doesn’t sprint out of the gate – especially with the sunny coastal backdrop – but when it hits stride, Paco Plaza strings together juvenile survival instincts with a zombified twist. First it’s about a group of kids (who dub themselves the A-Team) keeping their newest find trapped in a hole. What could be so precious? A Santa-suited female who’s wanted by the police. They fight, fumble ideas and grow too imaginative like kids do, but then it all wraps with one slip-and-slide to remember. Short and brisk, plenty of character. Good enough for me.

29. Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? (1971)

Dir. Curtis Harrington

Starring: Shelley Winters, Mark Lester, Chloe Franks, Ralph Richardson

As far as Hansel and Gretel reimaginings go – Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters being the best obviously – this British import is a maniacal mother’s nightmare mixed with the upstanding charm of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Delightful little orphan runts who sound like they’ve ingested helium run away from a poor benefactor who hosts a Christmas party. The children, think Mrs. Forrest to be a witch; Mrs. Forrest is an otherwise demented socialite who likens one of the orphans to be her replacement daughter. More comical guffaws than horror, but if you’re into dark ’70s fairy tales, this may just suit your tastes.

28. Calvaire (2004)

Dir. Fabrice du Welz

Starring: Laurent Lucas, Jackie Berroyer, Brigitte Lahaie

A musician en route to a Christmas gig suffers from car trouble, breaking down along a desolate stretch of country road. There’s an inn, a spacy innkeeper and villagers he’s told to avoid – you know where this is going. Or do you? As the backcountry situation morphs from comfort to imprisonment, Fabrice du Welz settles for a nice European Deliverance theme that’s equal parts unsettling and psychotic. Ugh, the animal squeal – try wiping that screech from your memory.

27. Wind Chill (2007)

Dir. Gregory Jacobs

Starring: Emily Blunt, Ashton Holmes, Martin Donovan, Ned Bellamy

Before ridesharing underwent the (loose) security of Uber and Lyft vetting, carpool movies like Wind Chill were still possible. A pretty young college girl requiring a ride back home for Christmas; the nervous stalker who fabricates a whole persona just to drive for 6-hours in a locked car with his crush. That’s not even the worst of it. The car careens off the road after an intentional swerve from an oncoming driver, stranding both travelers alongside a quiet winter’s landscape where time stops. Intentions are exposed and hooded tormentors walk free in what stands as a serviceable paradox thriller, at the very least as a creepy first-date nightmare that exploits forced “nice guy” syndrome.

26. Christmas Evil (1980)

Dir. Lewis Jackson

Starring: Brandon Maggart, Jeffrey DeMunn, Dianne Hull

When John Waters is the loudest critical voice supporting a film, expect the absurd. Such is the case of Christmas Evil (aka You Better Watch Out), in which a young Harry Stadling (later played by Brandon Maggart) is sent spiraling into psychosis when he learns Santa isn’t real. Then, as an adult, he suffers a full mental breakdown and starts killing “naughty” souls who don’t deserve one of his presents – a deranged, carol-mumbling, child-spying, asylum worthy performance by Maggart. It’s far more ridiculous and hilariously edited than slasher-scary, but those collectors of cinematic oddities will guffaw and cock their head in perplexed fashion along with Harry’s final tune.

25. Jack Frost (1997)

Dir. Michael Cooney

Starring: Shannon Elizabeth, Scott MacDonald, Christopher Allport, F. William Parker

Jack Frost is Child’s Play except instead of a doll it’s a snowman and instead of voodoo transference it’s genetic sludge. A serial killer’s soul finds itself in a snowman (yes) and he goes on a frozen killing spree sprinkled with terrible/fantastic puns. Sled decapitations, Picasso rearrangements and Shannon Elizabeth’s first acting role (which might be one of my favorite holiday horror deaths). Director Michael Cooney never sets out to make a serious slasher flick, and with that in mind, Jack Frost ends up being far more fun than it has any right to be. Just don’t confuse this for the Michael Keaton film if you’re babysitting.

24. Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

Dir. Charles E. Sellier Jr.

Starring: Linnea Quigley, Lilyan Chauvin, Robert Brian Wilson

Silent Night, Deadly Night is a snow-covered slasher that does a lot right. Some of the orphanage scenes may not be perfect, but the idea of this psycho Santa punishing naughty people around Christmas works given his batshit origins. You’ve got Linnea Quigley gettin’ horned, decoration-themed deaths, a killer who may be not Ricky Caldwell but who still rustles our crazy jollies. Silent Night, Deadly Night is infamous in title because it was pulled from theaters, yet the content itself is more what we should be talking about.

23. Silent Night (2012)

Dir. Steven C. Miller

Starring: Malcolm McDowell, Jaime King, Donal Logue, Ellen Wong

An overlooked gem when it comes to jollified genre treats, Steven C. Miller’s Silent Night is a loose remake of 1984’s infamous Silent Night, Deadly Night that sacrifices not an ounce of madness. The cast is stellar – Malcolm McDowell does that for a movie – and deaths so brutal that Billy Chapman would even shed a tear. Woodchipper chomping, axe defacing, Mr. Flamethrower – so many fond memories. What more can you ask for? (Don’t answer that.)

22. Home For The Holidays (1972)

Dir. John Llewellyn Moxey

Starring: Jessica Walter, Sally Field, Jill Haworth, Julie Harris, Eleanor Parker, Walter Brennan

With so many random slashers and feature affairs on this list, the soapy predictability of John Llewellyn Moxey’s made-for-TV mystery is somewhat refreshing. The story is simple: a ’70s-era Jessica Walter and Sally Field rush to their father’s mansion because he suspects he’s being poisoned slowly, only for them to be hunted one-by-one (alongside two other sisters). It’s all very primetime television – dramatic glances into the camera, ominous thunderclaps every time a character stops talking, facial zooms for no reason – but without commercials, this 70-ish minute whodunnit breezes by.

21. Tales From The Crypt – “…And All Through The House” segment (1972/1989)

Dir. Robert Zemeckis, Freddie Francis

Starring: John Kassir, Mary Ellen Trainor, Larry Drake, Marshall Bell, Joan Collins

The Crypt-Keeper’s evil Xmas story has seen two incarnations. First as part of Freddie Francis’ 1972 film with Joan Collins as his muse, then revamped in 1989 by director Robert Zemeckis, written by Fred Dekker. Zemeckis’ 22-minute home invasion thriller plays its cards right by packing two delicious twists into a simple story. Cue a lot – I mean a LOT – of actress Mary Ellen Trainor’s blood-curdling victim’s scream. This is a bedtime story for the criminally insane. A fun little party starter, if you ask me.

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