Last Updated on December 24, 2022 by Neil Chase
It’s that time of year again! The leaves are changing color, the air is getting colder, and Christmas is just around the corner.
This means one thing: it’s time to get into the holiday spirit by watching some scary Christmas movies!
In this article, we will count down the 25 best Christmas horror movies (as well as thrillers) of all time.
Whether horror, action, or thriller, these films will surely get you in the mood for winter while getting your heart racing and keeping you on the edge of your seat!
If you’re looking for a movie to get the Christmas spirit flowing and give you nightmares, Krampus is the perfect film.
This reimagining of the holiday classic tale follows a dysfunctional family who unleashes an ancient beast that preys on naughty children when their lack of Christmas spirit reaches its peak.
Told from the viewpoint of young Max (Emjay Anthony) and his family members, including Toni Collette and Adam Scott as Mom and Dad, Krampus puts a truly horrific spin on how one family can come together in the face of terrorizing odds.
The 2015 Christmas horror film has been lauded as having brilliant practical effects and delivering consistent thrills, so if you want some spooky cheer this season, check out Krampus.
Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) is a campy classic horror movie with a unique Christmas twist.
After little Billy witnesses a killer dressed as Santa Claus murder his parents, he’s sent to live in an abusive orphanage. Once grown, Billy (Robert Brian Wilson) snaps and dons the Santa suit to become a psychopathic serial killer bent on revenge.
This thrilling holiday horror film offers creepy suspense, and plenty of jump scares, all wrapped up in an unforgettable seasonal package. It was so controversial in its day that it was pulled from theatres for its disturbing content.
If you love unorthodox ways to celebrate Christmas, then Silent Night, Deadly Night, and its killer Santa Claus should be on your movie list this holiday season!
Die Hard (1988) is a classic holiday action-thriller that has kept audiences entertained since its release over three decades ago.
Whether you are in the mood for holiday-inspired suspense or need a good laugh, this movie will provide it in spades. Many fans consider Die Hard one of the best Christmas movies ever made.
With its outstanding performances and clever plot about an NYPD police officer (Bruce Willis) trying to save his wife and other innocents taken hostage by a criminal mastermind (Alan Rickman) and his henchmen, we can see why!
The idea of terrorists taking over an LA-based high-rise tower during a Yuletide office party is the perfect setup for plenty of action and thrills and the movie turned both Willis and Rickman into overnight stars.
Dubbed “Die Hard with Santa,” Violent Night is this year’s must-see Christmas evil thriller.
This gleefully twisted story follows a group of friends and family who gather for a holiday celebration when their evening takes a horrifying turn. An elite team of mercenaries, led by Mr. Scrooge (John Leguizamo), breaks into a family compound on Christmas Eve, taking everyone hostage inside.
However, they aren’t prepared for a surprise combatant – Santa Claus (David Harbour) himself, who dishes out more than just coal to the bad guys.
Featuring tons of action and suspense, Violent Night is sure to offer thrills and laughs for audiences this Christmas season.
If you’re looking for an action-packed, holiday-themed thriller, look no further than Lethal Weapon (1987)!
This classic buddy cop movie follows two wildly mismatched LAPD detectives (Mel Gibson and Danny Glover) investigating a mysterious death leading to a massive drug trafficking ring.
With its witty banter, explosive shootouts, and unexpected twists, Lethal Weapon is a classic Christmas adventure that will keep your heart pounding and your holiday spirits high!
Legion (2010) is a great way to get your holiday season off to a spooky start! With its terrifying storyline and impressive visuals, this Christmas horror movie is sure to captivate viewers.
After Archangel Michael (Paul Bettany) descends upon a dusty roadside diner, he reveals that God has decided it’s time to destroy humanity due to its self-destructive tendencies. Michael’s mission? To band with a group of strangers (Dennis Quaid, Charles S. Dutton) in the diner and protect a pregnant waitress (Adrianne Palicki) whose unborn baby is humanity’s last hope from extinction.
While its terrifying premise may keep you up at night, Legion is a must-watch for a truly original and cliffhanging Christmas horror movie experience.
The granddaddy of Christmas horror movies, Black Christmas (1974) is one of the first to turn the holidays into a terrifying viewing experience.
When a group of sorority sisters (including Margot Kidder and Olivia Hussey) receives a series of disturbing phone calls on Christmas break, they chalk it up to a prank.
Still, as the bodies start to pile up, they don’t realize just how close the serial killer is. Lovers of slasher films and thrillers will appreciate all the elements that come together to make this one of the best Christmas horror movies ever released.
With atmospheric cinematography that sets the tone and plenty of shock-value moments and scintillating jump scares, Black Christmas will have you gripping tightly onto whatever shelter you find as it delights in building suspense – especially when the killer closes in.
Gremlins (1984) is the perfect holiday movie for those who love a good scare and great practical effects!
In this scary family Christmas classic, Billy (Zach Galligan) receives an unusual pet as a gift – a mogwai – a cross between an adorable puppy and Baby Yoda (long before that was a thing).
But chaos ensues when he fails to follow three simple instructions involving the cuddly creature – bright light hurts it, water makes it multiply, and feeding after midnight turns it into an evil gremlin.
With plenty of thrills, chills, and laughs, Gremlins is a true festive frightener that will keep horror fans on their toes.
The Lodge (2019) is the perfect movie for those who crave an eerie, otherworldly thrill set at Christmastime. It combines horror and suspense as it follows two kids (Jaeden Martel and Lia McHugh) stuck in a remote wintertime lodge with their soon-to-be stepmother (Riley Keough), who harbors a dark secret.
With its beautiful snowscapes, eerie soundtrack, and overall intense atmosphere, The Lodge is an unsettling cinematic experience that will make your skin crawl – in a good way! Its slow build-up of suspense leads to a thrilling conclusion that both surprises and frightens!
Whether you’re looking to get into the holiday spirit of fear or need something new to add to your horror movie watchlist, The Lodge should be at the top of your list.
If you’re looking for an unconventional yet highly entertaining Christmas evil movie, then Fatman is a perfect choice!
Released in 2020, this unorthodox take on a seasonal classic follows Chris Cringle (Mel Gibson), also known as Santa Claus, as he’s forced to partner with the US Military to save his dwindling business.
As if that isn’t enough, a wealthy 12-year-old (Chance Hurtsfield) hires a mysterious hitman (Walter Goggins) to kill Chris because he got a lump of coal in his stocking – turning Christmas into an action-packed showdown.
Full of hilarious moments and unexpected twists, Fatman proves that even the scariest of holiday flicks can offer plenty of laughs and heartwarming sentiment.
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010) is an exhilarating and creepy Christmas movie that will leave viewers on the edge of their seats.
When two young Finnish boys (Onni Tommila and Ilmari Järvenpää) uncover the lost tomb of Santa Claus, they unwittingly release an ancient evil nothing like the jolly St. Nick of legend.
With reindeer being slaughtered and children vanishing, Christmas becomes a race against time to stop the monster.
Rare Exports is a hit with horror fans during the festive season with its eerie atmosphere and spine-tingling thrills mixed with dark humor.
Die Hard 2 (1990) is a worthy follow-up to another classic Christmas movie on this list.
When John McClane (Bruce Willis) arrives at Washington’s Dulles Airport on Christmas Eve, he finds himself in the middle of a terrorist plot headed by an ex-Colonel (William Sadler) in order to free a corrupt South American General (Franco Nero) by using the airport and the incoming flights as pawns.
With non-stop action and plenty of suspense and laughs, Die Hard 2 keeps you entertained from start to finish.
Santa’s Slay (2005) is an instant holiday classic for horror fans looking for a campy festive frightener!
In this wild and wicked twist on the traditional Christmas movie, St. Nick (Bill Goldberg) is revealed to be not so jolly after all – he’s actually a demon forced to spread gifts and joy after losing a bet with an angel.
But when the bet is off, Santa returns to his evil ways to spread chaos and misery across the world instead.
With plenty of scares, laughs, and intense action, Santa’s Slay will surely deliver some terrifyingly gory holiday fun.
If you’re looking for a Christmas movie that will have you on edge with great characters, amazing visuals, and plenty of action and suspense, check out Tim Burton’s Batman Returns!
This action-packed holiday thriller follows up on the success of Batman (1989), wherein the Dark Knight (Michael Keaton) returns to Gotham City to fight against the mysterious Penguin (Danny DeVito), the devious Max Schrek (Christopher Walken) and the seductive Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer).
And when sparks fly between Batman and Catwoman, it only complicates an already deadly situation.
With plenty of thrills, chills, and campy comedy, Batman Returns is sure to give you some serious fear-filled entertainment.
P2 (2007) is a gripping horror movie guaranteed to get pulses racing.
Set on Christmas Eve, the movie follows Angela (Rachel Nichols) as she leaves work late on Christmas Eve, only to be kidnapped by a mysterious stalker (Wes Bentley) and locked in an underground car park.
Angela must rely on her wits to escape her perilous predicament, and viewers will be glued to their seats as she attempts to outwit her captor.
With its suspense-filled storyline and intense atmosphere, P2 is a great choice for those who love being scared this festive season.
Gingerdead Man (2005) is a delightfully weird and spooky cult classic that will get you in the Christmas spirit.
When serial killer Millard Findlemeyer (Gary Busey) is executed and cremated, his ashes are mixed with gingerbread spice mix by his witch mother (E. Dee Biddlecome) so that Sarah (Robin Sydney), an escaped former victim, can bring him back to life as a giant Gingerbread Man.
As Sarah struggles to survive against the undead killer on the loose, audiences should prepare for gory scares, laughs, and everything in between with Gingerdead Man!
Dead End (2003) is an exciting Christmas horror movie for those looking to be scared this season.
Set on a remote highway on Christmas Eve, the film follows a family (Ray Wise, Lin Shayne, Mick Cain, Alexandra Holden) whose drive home takes an unexpected turn when they begin to experience supernatural phenomena after picking up a mysterious hitchhiker (Amber Smith).
Trapped on a seemingly never-ending deserted road, things quickly go from bad to worse for the entire family in a series of grisly events.
With its tension-filled scenes and unexpected twists, Dead End will leave viewers at the edge of their seats as they try to figure out what’s happening.
Silent Night (2021) is one of the more poignant Christmas horror movies this holiday season.
A couple (Keira Knightley and Matthew Goode) invites their closest friends for one final Christmas dinner in the English countryside as the world outside faces a mysterious impending doom.
This suspenseful, often touching, and humorous film follows the small group as they face their deepest fears and biggest regrets before it’s too late.
The Children (2008) is a memorable Christmas horror movie, providing a chilling twist on the Christmas horror genre.
This dark and disturbing film follows two sisters (Eva Birthistle and Rachel Shelley), who bring their families together over the holidays for a weekend of bonding and fun. But when the children start to act strangely and increasingly violent, the adults don’t realize the disturbing truth until it’s too late.
The Children will keep you guessing from start to finish with intense suspense and an eerie atmosphere.
If you’re looking for an offbeat slasher this Christmas season, look no further than Jack Frost (1997).
While it’s not your traditional holiday film, its unique blend of campy horror and holiday fun makes for an entertaining watch. When a captured serial killer, Jack Frost (Scott MacDonald), is transformed into a mutant snowman, he escapes to wreak havoc on a small town.
Despite comical death scenes and poor visual effects, Jack Frost has become a cult classic for those looking for a “so bad, it’s good” mix of scares and comedy.
Better Watch Out (2016) is undoubtedly one of the better scary and funny Christmas movies.
In this fresh and twisted take on the Christmas home-invasion trope, babysitter Ashley (Olivia DeJonge) attempts to defend two kids (Levi Miller, Ed Oxenbould) from home invaders.
But when one of the boys proves to be more dangerous and psychotic than everyone combined, Ashley quickly realizes she’s the one in danger.
Better Watch Out combines dark thriller elements with holiday-themed humor, creating something unique and entertaining.
A Christmas Horror Story blends the festive spirit of Christmas with a terrifying horror experience.
Released in 2015, this spooky anthology film of four stories is told by a drunken DJ (William Shatner) over the radio on Christmas Eve.
From a ghost story in a high school to a mysterious changeling in the woods to Krampus facing off against Santa, and finally, a zombie plague at the North Pole, there’s something here for horror lovers of all kinds.
With many suspenseful moments, unexpected plot twists, great action scenes, and creepy monsters, this film will keep you entertained as you celebrate the holidays!
The Advent Calendar is a 2021 Belgian horror thriller that will get you in the scary festive spirit!
After being gifted an old wooden advent calendar, a paraplegic girl (Eugenie Derouand) begins to uncover its strange and sinister secrets.
Each day, a new surprise appears from behind the calendar’s doors, threatening that she’ll die if she doesn’t follow the rules. As she unravels the mystery of the calendar and why it was given to her, she must confront the darkest parts of herself to survive.
This movie is a thrilling ride through the Christmas holiday – filled with suspense, surprises, and psychological horror!
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) is a unique take on the Christmas season that will delight viewers of all ages.
This Tim Burton stop-motion classic follows Jack Skellington (Danny Elfman), the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, as he discovers Christmas and attempts to bring its joyous spirit to his home by kidnapping Santa Claus and taking his place.
With memorable characters, catchy songs, and exciting visuals, The Nightmare Before Christmas is an imaginative and whimsical movie that captures the spirit of the festive season while delivering some creepy thrills along the way. It is a must-see if you’re looking for something delightful and frightening this holiday season!
Red Snow (2021) is a solid mix of snow-filled fun and scariness!
This holiday horror movie packs plenty of punch, as it follows a struggling supernatural romance author (Dennice Cisneros) alone over Christmas in her mother’s winter cabin.
When an actual vampire (Nico Bellamy) shows up at her door, it sets off a series of harrowing events putting her in the middle of a battle between vampires and vampire hunters.
With its mix of supernatural and romance, Red Snow will delight viewers looking for something different this Christmas.
Several horror films take place during Christmas and make for excellent viewing. Some of the best scary Christmas movies include Black Christmas (1974), A Christmas Horror Story (2015), Krampus (2015), Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984), and Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010). All these films offer a unique spin on the holiday season’s festivities while delivering plenty of chills and thrills.
Many Christmas films have horror elements, but one of the most notable is Gremlins (1984). This classic holiday movie combines the family-friendly fun of Christmas with an unexpectedly dark twist in its tale of mischievous gremlins running amok during the Yuletide season. The combination of comedy and scares makes Gremlins a must-see for any horror fan.
It’s hard to say which movie is the scariest as so many genres and horror styles can be considered. One title that consistently makes it onto many lists of scariest movies ever made is The Exorcist (1973). This timeless classic has shocked and terrified audiences for decades with its intense story, unsettling atmosphere, and groundbreaking special effects.
The dark, foreboding atmosphere of Black Christmas (1974) makes it one of the scariest Christmas movies ever made. It follows a group of sorority sisters who are tormented over their holiday break by an unknown caller. Its direction is masterful, and its uncanny ability to set an uncomfortable tone that lingers long after the movie ends make it clear why this film has remained a beloved horror classic for generations. This low-budget slasher flick has earned its place in horror history as one of the best seasonal releases of all time.
Whether you’re looking for family-friendly holiday fun or a genuinely terrifying viewing experience, there are plenty of great scary Christmas movies to choose from.
We hope this list of the 25 best scary Christmas movies helps you find the perfect film for your creepy festive movie night!
Looking for more scary movies? Check out these other fun lists!
Last Updated on December 24, 2022 by Neil Chase
I’m Neil Chase, and I’m a story and writing coach, award-winning screenwriter, and author of the horror-western novel, Iron Dogs.
I believe that all writers have the potential to create great work. My passion is helping writers find their voice and develop their skills so that they can create stories that are entertaining and meaningful. If you’re ready to take your writing to the next level, I’m here to help!