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Long-time readers will know that October has always been something of a sacred month for our horror-loving, coal-black heart, as we devote the entire month to nothing but fright flicks.

But what about the other months? In an effort to mix things up a little last year, we decided to inaugurate a new tradition, albeit one that might not have the same staying power as our annual 31 Days of Halloween: the first ever “Ho-Ho-Horror.”

The idea was simple: screen 24 Christmas-themed horror films between December 1st and the end of Christmas Eve and note whether ol’ Krampus would’ve put them on the naughty or nice list.

Unlike our October tradition, watching one a day wasn’t a requirement: I didn’t want to turn December into a horror-exclusive month, after all, just mix it up a little.

While some of the choices felt way too safe, I also chalked it up to first year jitters: adding Gremlins or the original Black Christmas to any horror recommendation list, at this point, feels like suggesting Star Wars to a sci-fi fanatic but they’re both undeniably Christmas films.

Will there be enough unscreened films to allow for a Part 2 this year? I think so but we’ll all find out in December. Until then, faithful and ghoulish readers, I implore you to step into the time machine and head all the way back to last month for…Ho-Ho-Horror 2022!

In the order they were screened:


Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)

Twas the Night Before…

The young son of a reindeer rancher learns that the legend of Santa Claus is both darker and more real than he could ever imagine when the blasting of a local mountain reveals something with an unrelenting hunger for children.

Naughty or Nice?

With one of the most unique representations of Santa in cinematic history and a strangely fairytale like vibe, this Norwegian export is quite nice.

A Christmas Horror Story (2015)

Twas the Night Before…

An anthology film that interweaves stories, ala Trick r Treat, albeit with a Christmas theme, these range from the expected Krampus, Santa and evil elves to less obvious fare like haunted schools and ghosts.

Naughty or Nice?

While this is just about as Christmas-horror themed as you can possibly get, the story quality is a little uneven, as befits most horror anthologies. Call it a little naughty but nice enough.

Gremlins (1984)

Twas the Night Before…

A young boy gets an early Christmas gift from his inventor dad, breaks the seemingly innocuous rules and proceeds to unleash pure chaos on his sleepy town.

Naughty or Nice?

Nice (with a mischievous Stripe). From the setting to the soundtrack to iconic seasonal imagery, nothing screams Christmas like this classic, although Phoebe Cates’ unforgettable reason for hating the holiday will always be hard to beat.

Christmas Evil (1980)

Twas the Night Before…

After a traumatic incident as a child at Christmas, a boy grows up to be a disturbed young man with a Santa fixation and a very definite (and bloody) notion of naughty and nice.

Naughty or Nice?

Nicer than you’d think. As a character study, this is much more Taxi Driver than Friday the 13th and the whole film is genuinely weird and more than a little creepy. An underappreciated Christmas classic.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Twas the Night Before…

After Jack Skellington, the undisputed king of Halloween Town, discovers the joy and wonder of Christmas Town, he’s determined to replace Santa Claus and rule that holiday, as well, consequences be damned.

Naughty or Nice?

As nice as they come. While some may argue that this Selick/Burton staple is team Halloween, I argue that it’s also as Christmas as Santa at Macy’s.

Black Christmas (1974)

Twas the Night Before…

When a sorority house is targeted by a heavy-breathing psycho on Christmas Eve, they’ll learn the true meaning of holiday horror and the importance of a good home security system.

Naughty or Nice?

Very nice. Bob Clark has the dubious distinction of helming two of the most iconic Christmas films out there: A Christmas Story and this much less kid-friendly classic. Chock-full of both colorful Christmas imagery and intense chills, this is an easy holiday staple and required viewing for horror fans.

El dia de la bestia (1995)

Twas the Night Before…

After a priest discovers that the Antichrist is arriving on Christmas, he decides that he must sin as much as possible in order to learn the exact location and enlists the help of a slovenly metal-head to become as bad as he can in as short a time as possible.

Naughty or Nice?

Nice but in the naughtiest way possible. Spanish auteur Alex de la Iglesia is a master of provocation and his perverted Nativity parody is one of his most provocative, despite also being one of his funniest. Call it Priests Behaving Badly but that finale is gut-wrenching.

Christmas Bloody Christmas (2022)

Twas the Night Before…

A Santa robot built with military hardware goes on a killing spree in a small town on Christmas eve and the only hope for humanity is a record store owner and her awe-inspiring drive to stay alive by kicking some major Robo Kringle ass.

Naughty or Nice?

Super nice with that classic Joe Begos edge. Although CBC isn’t perfect, it’s hard to care when the Christmas carnage (and smart-ass humor) are flying at the screen as fast as possible. Quite possibly the greatest killer Santa robot film that will ever be made.

Anna and the Apocalypse (2017)

Twas the Night Before…

As a high school girl wrestles with young love and the terrifying notion of leaving her dad and small town life behind for college, she also has to deal with a zombie outbreak at Christmas time. And sing, of course, since this is also a musical.

Naughty or Nice?

As sweet and nice as sugar-plum skulls. This is a fantastic modern musical, with a solid group of catchy, memorable tunes, that also doesn’t shy away from some pretty intense, holiday-themed zombie gore.

Dial Code Santa Claus (1989)

Twas the Night Before…

In a plot that might sound familiar, a young boy is home alone on Christmas and must defend himself from a sinister intruder by way of a system of elaborate booby traps and Rambo-inspired defenses. The intruder? A very deranged Santa Claus.

Naughty or Nice?

Nice with a side of what-the-fuck-did-I-just-see? This film is easy to describe but hard to really explain: suffice to say that few “kids in peril” films go as far as this does but even fewer give their child leads the kind of action hero status that this does.

Silent Night (2012)

Twas the Night Before…

It’s Christmas and an annual Santa Claus parade is the perfect setting for an insane Santa psycho out to kill any “naughty” people that he comes across.

Naughty or Nice?

Mostly nice. Despite the enthusiastic, imaginative gore and impressively black sense of humor, this is a little rough around the edges and leans hard into its B-movie aesthetic.

Dead End (2003)

Twas the Night Before…

A dysfunctional family takes the wrong shortcut through the woods, while driving to grandma’s house on Christmas eve, and become trapped in an escalating nightmare of bad choices and ghostly vengeance.

Naughty or Nice?

When your cast includes Lin Shaye and Ray Wise, you’re guaranteed a place on the Nice list. This subtle chiller definitely loses impact on repeat viewings but the cast and creepy atmosphere never disappoint.

Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972)

Twas the Night Before…

When a lawyer and his girlfriend go to check out the creepy mansion he just inherited, they discover that an ax murderer has taken an interest in the former asylum, too. As expected, bloody shenanigans ensue.

Naughty or Nice?

Dreadfully, drearily naughty. This tedious and thoroughly unbelievable dud is barely a Christmas horror film and deserves as many lumps of coal as possible. If you can keep your jaw from dropping in disbelief over the “twist” ending, you’re better than me.

Don’t Open Till Christmas (1984)

Twas the Night Before…

In jolly old England, a killer Santa is targeting other Santas at Christmas time, dispatching them in various gorily inventive ways.

Naughty or Nice?

So naughty, it’s nice. Pretty much the definition of a sleazy, grindhouse flick, this genuine oddity often feels like an unholy union of Ed Woods and HG Lewis but it’s endlessly fun and would probably be a hit with an inebriated holiday crowd.

The Children (2008)

Twas the Night Before…

A cozy, post-Christmas gathering at a quiet English country estate turns into a bloody battle for survival when a mysterious virus causes the children to turn against the adults.

Naughty or Nice?

A little of both. While this is an undeniably effective entry in the decidedly small “children killing adults” subgenre, it’s also not really a Christmas movie (call it a New Year’s film, if anything) and is often a little rough around the edges.

All the Creatures Were Stirring (2018)

Twas the Night Before…

Another Christmas-themed anthology, this time featuring a wraparound where the individual segments are live theatrical pieces being watched by a couple at the theater.

Naughty or Nice?

Mostly very naughty (almost dreadfully so), although the final short is easily the best of the lot and the wraparound segment has a really great payoff. In general, though, this was pretty bottom-of-the-barrel, ultra cheap fare.

To All a Goodnight (1980)

Twas the Night Before…

On the anniversary of a former member’s hazing death, a group of sorority sisters and their guy friends hang out on campus, during the winter break closure, and run afoul of a black-gloved killer.

Naughty or Nice?

Nice enough, although this never really rises above the status of a typical ’80s slasher and there isn’t a ton of Christmas imagery or themes. Plenty of goofy fun, though, and the whole thing has a weird “after-school special” vibe.

Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (1987)

Twas the Night Before…

Following the events of the first film (seen via copious replayed footage), insane Ricky escapes from the mental hospital to continue his Santa-suited brother’s reign of terror. It’s Garbage Day, ya turkeys!

Naughty or Nice?

Very nice. While I would struggle to call Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 a great film, I have no problem whatsoever calling it a tremendously fun, goofy and endlessly memorable one that will light up any holiday party or get-together. A cult legend for a good reason.

Night of the Comet (1984)

Twas the Night Before…

When a couple of Valley Girls seem to be the only people in their area not turned to dust by a passing comet, they do the only thing sensible and party like it’s 1984, despite the looming presence of sinister mad scientists and various zombies.

Naughty or Nice?

Just about as nice as they come, despite the Christmas horror connection being a bit slight: we do get a pretty iconic appearance from Santa, however, and enough holiday imagery to pave over the potholes. That being said, Night of the Comet is one of the very best of the ’80s, Christmas-themed or otherwise.

Krampus (2015)

Twas the Night Before…

As a dysfunctional family gathers for a snowy Christmas, they don’t count on one uninvited guest: Krampus. Will Krampus and his horrifying minions teach these miserable people the true spirit of the season or are these lost causes doomed to something far worse than death?

Naughty or Nice?

Very nice. It’s only fitting that Michael Dougherty’s Krampus would be a great Christmas horror film since his Trick r Treat is one of the best Halloween films ever. While this isn’t quite as good as Trick r Treat, all the trappings are there to still make it one of the most quintessential Christmas-themed horror films.

Adult Swim Yule Log (aka The Fireplace) (2022)

Twas the Night Before…

What begins as a typical yule log video soon spirals into a hallucinatory, brain-melting and genuinely horrifying dive into “cabin in the woods” insanity that needs to be seen to be believed.

Naughty or Nice?

Umm…both? Neither? While The Fireplace isn’t a very good Christmas horror film (initial subject notwithstanding, there is almost nothing seasonal about the film at all), it is one of the most impressive, pioneering horror films of 2022.

Who Slew Auntie Roo? (1972)

Twas the Night Before…

Every Christmas, local philanthropist and former entertainer “Auntie Roo” invites a select group of children from the local orphanage to her sprawling mansion for a truly magical Christmas celebration. When a rather naughty brother and sister sneak a ride to the manor, however, they’ll kick off a twisted version of Hansel and Gretel that will lead directly to horror.

Naughty or Nice?

Just nice enough. Although this odd film nails the Christmas theme pretty well, it’s only nominally a horror film, although the disturbing finale and certain revelations definitely do the trick. Think of it more as a really twisted fairy tale and you’re in the right ballpark.

Sint (2011)

Twas the Night Before…

On December 5th, under a full moon, evil Saint Nicholas rises from the dead to bring terror to the streets of Amsterdam, along with his army of undead helpers. It’s up to one very traumatized and Christmas-hating cop to try and stop him before the streets run red…with blood!

Naughty or Nice?

Unfortunately, this otherwise quite nice entry in the always fun subgenre of evil St. Nicholi (plural of Nicholas?) films also casually depicts a racist local custom with zero commentary or explanation, making it both difficult and problematic to recommend this, despite the warning about “changing times” that opens the film.

Better Watch Out (2017)

Twas the Night Before…

During the holidays, a teenage babysitter must protect her very precocious young charges from menacing home intruders.

Naughty or Nice?

Very nice. This devious little Christmas carol features several good twists, a vibrant, cheery setting (to offset the bloodletting) and an enthusiastic young cast doing some very solid work. Krampus would definitely approve.

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