This turned out to be a major year for seasonal scares, in part thanks to horror friends on social who pointed out some movies I might have missed otherwise. Therefore, this is a huge post with a substantial batch of Christmas horror flicks that are getting added to the complete holiday horror page.
(CURSE OF) JACK FROST (2022)
Unlike the 1997 Jack Frost, this is not about a killer snowman. This evil old folk legend gets a dark backstory in fairy tale form. He disemboweled Mrs. Claus, so Santa had him dismembered and the parts buried all over the place so he couldn’t come back…
Oddly enough Jack is a kind of bad ass goth rocker in a leather jacket who gets his own guitar rock theme song every time he appears, with winds whipping up and snow swirling around him. He looks like a guy wearing a mask and rubber hands, and that totally scratched my silly seasonal slasher itch.
Jack targets a family responsible for guarding one of his remaining missing body parts. The young pretty daughter ends up at a church with her female friends, establishing a typical slasher scenario.
Jack Frost goes to work taking them out, usually using strings of Christmas lights as his weapon of choice.
There’s running, screaming, dying, Jack Frost taunting victims…it feels low budget, but it does have a dark tone and holiday atmosphere.
THE KILLING TREE (2022)
The director of the Winnie-The-Pooh horror flick brings us a 72-minute, campy holiday slasher that is similar in tone to the 1997 fave Jack Frost, only with a killer Christmas tree instead.
It opens with a woman casting a spell to resurrect her dead criminal husband in…a Star of David pentagram? This Christmas horror flick is anti-Semitic.
It’s kind of hilarious when the dude comes back from the dead only to realize he’s in the form of a Christmas tree. His reactions and comments throughout the film are the only comedy here…everything else is played straight.
The tree is out for revenge, determined to take down the girl whose parents he killed the Christmas before, which is what led to his death.
Luckily, she’s having a Christmas party at her house. Don’t you love how the kids in these movies always have a party a year after the tragic event they haven’t gotten over yet?
What makes the film funny (aside from the Christmas tree talking) is that it’s literally a slasher with a walking Christmas tree killer. There’s some hokey CGI tree effects, and the tree size never remains consistent—sometimes it’s the size of a person, other times it looks like a 2-story monster. It also has long, tentacle-like arms and light strings that do a lot of the dirty work.
It’s cheesy, but it definitely gets you in the Christmas horror mood and makes a good background horror flick while you’re enjoying your own festivities at home.
THE CHRISTMAS TAPES (2022)
This indie holiday anthology delivers fairly basic found footage clichés.
A family of four is exchanging gifts. The son is presented as gay (as demonstrated by his reaction to getting a scarf for Christmas), and the daughter is a wannabe filmmaker. She sets her video camera in motion when a home invader ties up the family and forces them to watch some Christmas horror video tapes…
1st story – a couple going on a camping trip for their internet travel channel does a spell on a scarecrow that brings it to life. The tent action gave me Blair Witch flashbacks, however the scarecrow is scarier than that witch bitch could ever be.
No Christmas spirit here, because the couple is missing Christmas at home to traipse through the woods.
2nd story – a dad decides to surprise his kids by hiring a Santa service that puts him in a big gift box and delivers him to their door. What could possibly go wrong?
3rd story – this is a super short tale about a package that needs to be delivered before a timer runs out…
4th story – we finish things off with some Paranormal Activity vibes. A couple moves into a new home, things start getting weird with their holiday decorations, and so they call in a paranormal expert…horror comedy king Dave Sheridan! As much as I love Dave, this story drags out in hopes that Dave’s comedic shtick will steal the show, but it doesn’t. However, he does make a power bottom quip that made me feel all warm and fuzzy…
HE KNOWS (2022)
Watch this holiday slasher strictly for the eerie elf and the violent death scenes. Underdeveloped characters meander around the sets waiting to be killed, and the story lacks any logical flow.
As a child, a girl sees her father killed by the elf.
As an adult, she tells her daughter a great, dark tale of Sammy the Elf and how elves hate humans but Santa enslaved them to work at the North Pole.
She then leaves her daughter home alone with her mother, played by horror veteran Lynn Lowry.
Meanwhile, the elf, who has a kick ass mask and does this freaky head jerk motion, starts killing off a list of naughty people. That would be all the meandering characters I was talking about, who feel totally disconnected from the “main characters”, who are forgotten for most of the film.
The elf definitely delivers on the creepy holiday spirit and brutal kills. However, the film runs painfully long at 100 minutes, and the big mask removal reveal at the end is disappointing—it seriously “introduces” the killer as a main character all of a sudden right before the film ends.
If you stick around after the credits roll, there is a “pre-movie” scene that gives you significant backstory that wasn’t presented in the movie itself.
Not to mention, I’d be curious to know if the killer was supposed to be gay, because it really seems to be implied.
Running just a little over an hour long, this is the kind of absurd Christmas horror film you watch because it’s called Weredeer. Meaning if you watch this and then go online to bitch about it, you’re just going to make yourself look stupid.
The opening scene is straight up comedy as 2 hunters offer some funny banter before creature POV comes for them.
Then we meet a straight couple heading to the guy’s family home in the woods for the holidays. This family of rednecks even includes a lesbian couple!
The dialogue and character interactions aren’t particularly entertaining, but again…you’re here for the weredeer.
The main guy’s girlfriend is bit by a deer in the woods and soon turns into a very pretty creature. But that doesn’t mean she won’t beat you to death with her front hooves, which is exactly what she does to victims, and it’s quite funny.
And yet after the blatantly comedic opening scene with the hunters, the film doesn’t play as a comedy. It’s fairly serious in tone and allows the silliness to speak for itself.
NUTCRACKER MASSACRE (2022)
Yay! A simple Christmas slasher about a big killer nutcracker! The only issue I had with this film was that the creators felt the need to open with a kill that actually takes place later in the film, and therefore is presented again where it’s meant to be chronologically.
That’s because our killer nutcracker doesn’t come to be until after some major story development. Our main girl is on the outs with her boyfriend, so she accepts an offer to come visit her aunt for Christmas.
On the way there she stops at a store and buys a little nutcracker as a gift. But once she gets to her aunt’s place she discovers her aunt has a man-sized nutcracker already.
Some evil Christmas magic brings the big nutcracker to life. The general idea is that this nutcracker is supposed to protect the “sugar plum fairy” (aka: the main girl), but as this giant nutcracker turns more and more evil looking and does some pretty violent and gory killing, it doesn’t appear to just target her enemies. Even the most innocent people are taken out.
The biggest bummer for me was when the nice, hunky boyfriend of her bitchy cousin gets killed while walking around shirtless and in his undies in the nastiest scene in the film. Let’s just say this is the kill in which the nutcracker lives up to his name. Ouch.
In true supernatural slasher form, the main girl has to do some digging to figure out what brought the nutcracker to life and what can stop it. There’s cat and mouse chasing, plus there are body reveals.
I definitely had festive fun with this one.
This is one of those films that’s not unwatchable yet not really worth a watch.
I do like the general premise. An influencer couple that is having some relationship issues heads to a supposedly haunted forest to do a Christmas show.
The locals have some weird stuff going on. There’s a sinister “lottery” that forces the winners into a dark situation, and everyone displays creepy Santa “scarecrows” to keep away a freaky Santa Claus creature that needs a sacrifice…
We meet several weird characters, several people are killed off, and then the local crazies eventually come for the couple.
There are a few hints of quality horror sprinkled throughout the film, but this indie feels like it’s missing the little extra something needed to make an impression as a backwoods holiday slasher.
It’s also listed as a comedy, but the only thing that was kind of funny—but more like bizarre—is that the killer kind of looks like someone dressed as Santa and wearing a demented turkey head mask.
THE LEECH (2022)
The Leech is being labeled as a horror comedy. There’s definitely dark humor embedded in the depressing plot, but the only way this is horror is if you’re a religious nut who thinks it’s horrific for a priest to get drawn into sodomy, abortion, and murder.
A priest has a pathetic congregation…four parishioners to be exact. He hopes there will be a Christmas miracle at midnight mass on Christmas Eve.
Meanwhile, he offers a dirt bag loser a ride, then offers to let him sleep over, then ends up having the dude’s girlfriend move in.
As the troubled, uncouth couple begins to encroach on the priest’s personal space, he gets sucked into their godless sex lives, and the guilt of doing so starts to drive him mad.
Hey, at least there’s plenty of homoerotic stuff mixed in there.
As for horror…there seems to be a moment when the priest hears demonic voices, and like I said, there are some murders. However, I wouldn’t consider this a full-blown horror film.
CHRISTMAS BLOODY CHRISTMAS (2022)
This is a no-nonsense grindhouse throwback flick that does the job it needs to do—it gives us a nonstop killer Santa experience.
Loaded with scenes drenched in Christmas lights, the film features a girl and her cute buddy (with really bad 80s hair even though it’s present day) hanging out on Christmas and having excessive, drunken, philosophical and 90s pop culture conversations.
This is really the only cringy part for me. These types of Tarantino conversations in movies are so over. As good as the actors may be in the rest of the film, they seem to struggle to get all the meta dialogue out and are never believable as adoring fans of what they’re discussing. And speaking of Tarantino inspiration, the constant F bombs make the script feel amateurish at times—almost like there was a lot of improvisation and the actors just defaulted to the F bomb when they couldn’t think of how else to compose quality dialogue on the spot.
You just have to let all that go, because Christmas Bloody Christmas delivers sex and violence once a mall “RoboSanta Plus” inexplicably takes on a life of its own and decides to kill anyone it comes across. It also seems to have Terminator’s determination to specifically hunt down our main girl.
It’s pure festive chaos, with a combination of a 70s-esque rock music soundtrack and an 80s synth-driven score.
Aside from the main cutie guy, who even expresses an appreciation of being pegged, there’s a hot daddy bear bartender with a fantastic beard who doesn’t get enough screen time.
While the movie is action and violence heavy, there are a few suspense scenes and jump scares. Personally, I liked the first half of the film better than the second half, which becomes a bit repetitive as our main girl is relentlessly chased by the RoboSanta.
WHOEVER SLEW AUNTIE ROO? (1972)
Teaming up again with the director of What’s the Matter with Helen?, Shelley Winters plays a rich widow with a dirty secret…she keeps the skeleton of her deceased daughter tucked away in a bedroom upstairs in her mansion.
She also holds séances to try to contact her daughter.
Meanwhile, she has a Christmas party for children from an orphanage and becomes enamored with a little girl who reminds her of her daughter. The girl and her brother are thrill-seekers, so they explore the house and find some freaky things.
And then…Shelley keeps the sister when all the other kids go home!
The brother, who is convinced Shelley is the witch from the story of Hansel & Gretel, decides to break into the house and save his sister before she can be cooked for New Year’s dinner.
Whimsical yet dark, this is like horror seen through a child’s eye. It’s relatively tame (Shelley isn’t all that frightening), but it is nice to see the dastardly little ending that doesn’t stray too far from the fairy tale that inspired the movie.
THE LAST SLAY RIDE (2022)
This holiday horror comedy feels like a student film about film students acting like film students with constant geek banter about movies and the art of movie-making. On top of that, while there are a few serviceable performances, most of them feel low budget indie quality, and the film suffers from awkward pauses between lines of dialogue that cause the flow to stutter constantly.
So what about the humor, horror, and holiday? There are very few laughs to be had, and the horror is minimal and just goofy. There is plenty of Christmas to go around, starting with a guy in a Santa suit terrorizing a film student who owes him money.
Meanwhile, that film student and his friends suddenly get some funding to make a movie. So we have to sit through an unfunny montage of people auditioning and then tedious sequences of them making a low budget camp slasher, which takes up a good portion of the running time.
Finally, the students are forced by the Santa to go to the house of the investors so he can collect his money. The house is full of people in Santa and elf suits.
They reveal they’re vampires (52 minutes in) , kicking off low energy chases around the house.
And yet…the lack of humor and horror still abound. I just wasn’t feeling this one at all.
RETURN OF KRAMPUS (aka: Krampus: The Return) (2022)
Despite the title, this is not a sequel to any Krampus movie. It’s a movie about Krampus coming back to terrorize a family it just won’t leave alone.
As far as Krampus looks go, this one is pretty freaky. What makes that a bummer is that the film is not all that great. It’s very slow with lots of talk.
Speaking of talking, the backstory concerning this family’s history with the mythical monster is summed up in a voice-over at the beginning of the film. Unfortunately, an ominous filter effect is applied to the narrator, so his dialogue is hard to understand. Do filmmakers not carefully watch their movies back to look for issues like this before releasing them to the public?
Anyway, I do like the dark tone. Following the death of her brother, a young woman comes home to deal with the aftermath, bringing a support group of loved ones with her. There’s lots of dialogue about her guilt, her brother, and the Krampus curse….
One couple is killed early on. The next kill is 60 minute into the film, which runs only 80 minutes long. That should tell you everything you need to know about the pacing.
Despite my disappointment overall, and the lack of holiday spirit (I guess that makes sense since her brother just died), the few kills are satisfying when the film finally goes into slasher mode in the last 20 minutes, complete with Krampus killing people with sharp weapons.
VIKINGS VS. KRAMPUS (2020)
It’s no secret I’m no fan of period pieces…and this one takes place in 812! I can’t even say that year without tripping over my syllables because there’s no “teen” in the number.
Sure it’s all about Krampus, but there’s not exactly Rockefeller Center excursions and sitting on Santa’s lap in 812. But the movie does take place on “Yule Day” in December.
The tale is basic. A royal family’s castle is overthrown by Vikings. The king of this castle wants it back, and some witches in the woods suggest conjuring Krampus.
He agrees, Krampus appears, and then a whole lot of battles take place in the woods.
Of course there’s a catch—Krampus’s service come with a price. So the remaining royals are also at odds with the creature in the end as he comes seeking payback.
Krampus looks cool in a sort of “awesome costume, dude!” way, but I really don’t care about a bunch of people in 812 getting into sword fights.
SEASON’S GREETING 2 (2019)
I covered the first Season’s Greetings here, and considering these are short film anthologies of short films, combining both parts would give you a full-length feature. Part 2 only runs 45 minutes long.
A dude in a Christmas sweater serves as the host, introducing each of the three tales.
1st story – this odd but unique Christmas tale is about a young woman picked to be the “Virgin Mary” in a sort of satanic ritual for the birth of the “new messiah”. It’s a cool plot but nothing frightening to see here.
2nd story – this is a fun stalker film in which a girl is terrorized by a crazy dude after passing up an invitation to come to her mother’s house. It includes a great under the bed moment, and the main girl makes the ending quick and satisfying.
3rd story – this is a good way to finish off the anthology, with friends gathering for a Christmas party then being chased around a house by a freaky killer elf.
PSYCHO SANTA (2003)
Psycho Santa finally showed up on streaming after almost two decades, and the reason why must be the release of the sequel I cover below! I always assumed Psycho Santa was a bad, super low budget flick since it was impossible to find anywhere, but overall I thought there were some cool ideas here. Unfortunately there’s too much filler and no onscreen killing!
The approach to telling the story feels like an anthology, but all the separate segments are connected because they all tie in to a killer Santa named Chris. A straight couple is on a road trip to enjoy some holiday festivities and the guy begins his tale(s):
1st story – girls at a cabin in the woods wonder where their other friend is. There’s a clever scene of one of the girls taking a walk by a lake, and we see there’s a car submerged in the water. However this tale is mostly filler, with what seems like a director fantasy shoot of the other girl with pierced tits and pierced, hairy pussy showering and then the two girls dancing in lingerie. There’s a good Tales from the Dark Side zinger ending, but any killing is left to our imagination and just mentioned by the guy in the wraparound!
2nd story – guys robbing a house find a secret room. There are growls and off screen kills! We do, however, get quick flashes of what happened during the return to the wraparound. Looks like some nasty good fun, with glimpses at the killer’s actual face. I just wish we would have gotten more than teases.
3rd story – this is the backstory, with a man relating how he locked up his killer son (wraparound story in a wraparound movie). The son escaped, dressed like Santa, and began his killing spree (with another off screen kill).
4th story – the Santa killer breaks into another house. There are more off screen kills and an overly long scene of a dying woman crawling to a phone jack on the wall to plug it back in.
5th story – two siblings go to get a Christmas tree and their car breaks down. There is loads of filler footage of them walking through the woods, and then some cat and mouse stuff.
In the end it’s believed the killer Santa dies in a burning cabin, but we know better thanks to the wraparound.
PSYCHO SANTA 2 (2021)
It’s shocking that a sequel was made nearly two decades later with a totally different director. The only thing interesting about this one is the concerted effort to connect it as cleanly as possible to the first film.
The narrative is all over the place, and the goofy low budget kill effects demonstrate why the maker of the first film perhaps chose to not show the kills at all.
The opener uses footage of the robber scene from the first movie, and then the film begins digging itself into a deeper and deeper hole of confusion. A dude comes home to find his roommate has raped and killed a girl. They fight (to the sounds of funny punch effects), and then Santa appears and kills the rapist.
For reasons I never understood, another guy receives a gruesome gift package on his doorstep.
The cops interrogate the roommate, who wasn’t killed by Santa. We learn his father was somehow the burned up Santa from the first movie.
The dude who received the head starts following Santa around to pad the film.
A couple of people are killed in lame death scenes while we begin to wonder if the roommate guy is the killer, if the Santa from the first film has come back, or if it’s just a figment of his imagination.
Finally, there’s a sudden, inexplicable flashback to the chase scene of the siblings from the first movie followed by a montage of all the kills from this movie, none of it serving as any kind of actual end to this film.
I don’t know who thought this poor sequel to a relatively unknown film was a good idea.
AXEMAS (2017) and AXEMAS 2 (2018)
These are just short films and run less than an hour long combined.
In the first film, a hunky dude working at a storage facility invites his friends to party overnight. No real character development…straight to the slashing Santa. Yay!
There’s a shirtless hottie, some good chases, a few traditional death scenes with sharp weapons, red horror lighting, and even some split screen.
For the sequel, the final girl returns and is suffering from PTSD. Unfortunately, someone is back for revenge, so she spends another night being pursued by Santa.
She’s not alone. A few more people are thrown into the mix to up the body count.
There’s also some humor in this installment, which ups the fun factor, as does the action during the chase scene.
The ending is an intriguing follow-up to the end of the first film and promises a third film.
KILLER CHRISTMAS ELVES (2021)
Running only 68 minutes long, this short film is festive, fun, and funny.
A little witchery causes the elf dolls in a toy shop to come to life.
Meanwhile, a father is welcoming his rebellious son into his house for the holidays hoping to repair their fractured relationship.
That bonding comes when the elves show up to cause murderous havoc!
There’s not much more to say about the plot. Father and son join forces with neighbors to save their community from these devilish dwarves. The father, who is both cute and funny, steals the show, as do the elves, which gave me the chuckles with the cut and paste way in which they’re presented on screen as they terrorize the townsfolk.
THE APOLOGY (2022)
I really can’t with Shudder anymore. When is this never-ending “curation” of trauma porn gonna stop? I wanna be scared not sad. This movie shouldn’t even be on a horror streaming service, and the only reason I’m covering it briefly is because it’s on the most significant horror streaming service out there.
It’s sort of a “thriller” that takes place at Christmas time, but there are few thrills and nothing beyond snow and Christmas lights to ring in the season.
This is the move in a nutshell. An alcoholic woman still grieves the disappearance of her daughter 20 years ago. Her ex-brother-in-law shows up at her door during a Christmas Eve snowstorm to tell her something that will finally give her closure…and also make her want revenge.
**SPOILER** This is a tale about rape, pedophilia, and incest. There’s some cat and mouse chasing and fights, both physical and verbal, but it simply never feels intense enough for this guy to seem like a real threat.
On the bright side, it’s refreshing to see Janeane Garofalo in a serious but small role as the neighbor.
There’s little in the way of satisfying revenge when all is said and done, and don’t expect suspense, scares, or blood.