[Creepy Christmas] 8 Scary Slasher Santa Movies
Holiday mascots are supposed to get everyone in the festive spirit, they’re cheerful, jolly, cute little characters that liven up our celebrations with chocolates and presents. Yet some films decide to take our beloved icons and turn them into pure unfiltered nightmare fuel. Whether that’s the Cupid masked serial killer from Valentine or the cheeky and murderous Lubdan from the Leprechaun franchise.
Not even Christmas is exempt from this and there are some great festive horror movies out there from Black Christmas to Jack Frost. Some may deal with family dread or serial killers prowling during the dark winter nights, but one of the more disturbing subgenres is that of the ‘Fucked Up Father Christmas’ movie. These films transform the jolly fat guy from ‘Ho ho ho’ to ‘Oh God no!’ by making him a killer, a deviant or something entirely unholy. Let’s explore the darker side of Santa with the 8 Scariest Santas from horror movies.
Christmas Cruelty! (2013)
Of all the films on the list this is the most brutal. Forget your slapstick slasher vibes, throw out the festive puns and reworking of the Father Christmas mythology, Christmas Cruelty! is just an out and out gory torture porn movie with a Christmas edge. This one is not for faint hearted or weak stomached, the fact it opens with the gruesome murder of an infant sets that up instantly.
The mask alone is terrifying, with it’s old rubbered face and hollowed black eyes, it definitely doesn’t spark Christmas cheer. This Norwegian B-Movie slasher is low budget but does a lot with the money it does have and keeps you guessing, and worrying, what new level of depravity this red suited psychopath will put his victims through next. It’s mean spirited in every way and will test even the bravest of horror movie fans.
Sint (aka Saint) (2010)
December 5th, a full moon, and a sinister Saint are the ingredient for this Dutch Christmas Cookie from Dick Maas. In this film Saint Nicholas is no longer the jolly inspiration for Santa Clause, he’s a medieval killer with a thirst for blood and vengeance. He becomes an urban legend, a story shared amongst friends to add some fear to the festive season. However, for a group of teens this myth becomes reality when the Saint returns as a true sinner.
As with many traditions and festive celebrations of the modern day, the legend of Saint Nick has been sanitised to appeal to kiddies. The original stories are much darker and grisly, just like this film. Saint Nick is clearly less of a spreader of joy and wonder and more an undead Michael Myers or Freddy Krueger figure who hunts down those who need punishing.
Santa’s Slay (2005)
This festive favourite has WWE’s Goldberg in it so of course it had to make the list. This film kicks off quickly and brutally with the festive themed murders of an entire family, with eggnog drowning and ninja star tree toppers. Flanked by his ‘Hell-Deer’ this buff but homicidal Santa indulges in some gruesome and grisly murders.
After being trapped on the nice list for so long by an angel Santa makes the most of being naughty, visiting strip clubs and kicking puppies with glee. As the son of Satan, conceived by virgin birth just like baby Jesus, it’s no surprise that Santa Goldberg is a little bit ‘off’. It’s a slapstick slasher with cliche’s galore, ridiculous gore and dark comedy roots. Let’s just hope we’re not next on the naughty list.
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)
A group begins an archeological dig in Finland and unearth some strange artifacts. They receive a new list of rules from team leader Riley including to wash behind their ears and refrain from bad language, not your usual health warnings. Finding out that Santa’s not real is one kind of childhood trauma, suspecting he is dead and being faced with his frozen corpse is a ‘therapy for life’ type of trauma. The children of Lapland begin to disappear and the suspect is a ‘not so dead’ evil Joulupukki.
Finnish writer-director Jalmari Helander created two short films Rare Exports Inc. and The Official Rare Exports Inc. Safety Instructions before turning this into a feature. It’s funny, unnerving and has all the undead Christmas characters you could ever want.
3615 code Père Noël (1989)
(aka. Deadly Games, Dial Code Santa Claus, Game Over, and Hide and Freak)
Thomas is an intelligent and creative young boy who, on Christmas Eve is left alone with his ailing granddad and dog J.R. He believes he has made contact with Santa and has set up a security system to capture footage of the elusive present bringer. Unfortunately it wasn’t Santa he was in touch with, just a psychopath with access to a Santa suit. Young Thomas must now protect himself and his grandpa from this lunatic using booby traps and homemade weaponry. If this sounds a little familiar, it’s because it is. It has to be noted that this one came before Home Alone, yet there are a ridiculous amount of similarities, to the point writer director René Manzor threatened legal action against the Home Alone film makers. Watching this little mullet clad Rambo Jr. take on a demented Santa Claus who has invaded his house is thrilling and is honestly the horror version of Home Alone we all asked for and didn’t realise already existed.
Silent Night (2012)
From the cold open beginning we know that this Santa means business, with his creepy clear plastic mask and the tied up lady on his floor, not to mention the poor guy wrapped in Christmas lights. Honestly, this is a well made movie with some stunning lighting and cinematography choices, which feels strange to say about an entry in the Silent Night, Deadly Night franchise. There’s even a Sin City styled flashback that looks gorgeous.
Malcolm McDowell joins us as the knowing police Sheriff who’s not a fan of the presents he’s being left. He’s a hardened, at times hammy, copper who is ready to take down the sick festive killer. It calls back to the original with a few scenes but it’s kills are much more gruesome, appealing to a modern audience raised on bloodshed. Silent Night becomes a game of finding a killer Santa in a Father Christmas haystack. It ups the stakes from the previous versions by killing a kid, I mean, some kids are entitled shits, there it is I said it, but this Santa really goes too far in correcting their behaviour.
Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
Of course this controversial, banned ‘video nasty’ had to make the naughty list. It may not have been the first killer Claus but it definitely became the most famous, sending appalled shockwaves and cries of “Won’t somebody please think of the children?!” across 80’s America. Little Billy is a sweet boy with a loving family, but after visiting his ‘catatonic’ grandpa and receiving an ominous message from him, his parents are brutally murdered by a man in a Santa suit, leaving him and his brother as orphans. Of course this leaves him with a bit of Christmastime trauma.
Now an adult with a job in a toy shop Billy seems quite well adjusted, but spoiler, he really isn’t. After replacing the store Santa, Billy snaps and keeps his red suit on as he goes on a killing spree with many a themed murder. There’s Christmas light asphyxiation and deer antler impalement, plus this film honestly has one of the most traumatising soundtracks, the song about Santa watching is pure festive nightmare fuel and would traumatise any child. This Santa has a real need to “Punish!” it’s victims.
Christmas Evil (aka You Better Watch Out) (1980)
Ah, the 80’s, what better time for an exploitative video nasty slasher about a deranged man dressed as Santa Claus. On Christmas Eve 1947, a young Harry Stadling sees his mommy doing much more than kissing Santa Clause and is left utterly traumatised. As an adult he obsesses over the bearded man and emulates his idols behaviour, even keeping a naughty and nice list. After being disillusioned one too many times by the hypocritical and selfish people of the town he decides to take matters into his own axe wielding hands and dons the suit and beard himself.
Harry is in full Travis Bickle mode, even homaging the iconic mirror scene, as he descends into an isolated madness that drives him to kill those who deems as ‘naughty’. Christmas Evil, aka You Better Watch Out, aka Terror in Toyland is a festive black comedy with enough themed kills to keep a horror lover happy, no matter what your preferred title is.