Movies5 Dark Christmas Movies

Anthony LeDecember 25, 2018

A lot of people consider the holiday season, and Christmas, to be one of the happiest times of the year. People get time off work, they’re able to spend time with their families, and it’s an all around joyous occasion. Some directors have chosen the typical path, and made happy, heartwarming Christmas films. Several come to mind, including classics such as A Christmas Story, Home Alone and It’s a Wonderful. Naturally, there are always directors who want to push the boundaries. Over the years, several directors have tried their hands at a horror-Christmas hybrid, and the results have been undeniably intriguing. Here are five films that take the cheery atmosphere of Christmas and darken it just a little bit:

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Synopsis: Jack Skellington, king of Halloween Town, discovers Christmas Town, but his attempts to bring Christmas to his home causes confusion. (IMDB)

Starring:  Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara

Writer: Caroline Thompson

Director: Henry Selick

Rating: PG (Canada/United States)

Running Time: 76mins


You take the wonderful mind of Tim Burton, and mix it with the talents of Henry Selick. What do you get? The result is the delightful The Nightmare Before Christmas. People often mistakenly think that this film was directed by Tim Burton, but Henry Selick might have been the perfect choice. Since then, he’s gone on to make Coraline and James and the Giant Peach. With Tim Burton co-writing the story, Selick directing, and Danny Elfman writing the score, the film was bound to be a major success. And it was. 26 years after its initial release, The Nightmare Before Christmas is still considered one of the best Christmas films of all time, and it’s likely the most well known of the films on this list.

With wonderful animation,  a catchy soundtrack and only a 76 minute running time, this isn’t one that you’ll want to miss this Christmas season.

Krampus (2015)

(original review)

Synopsis: A boy who has a bad Christmas ends up accidentally summoning a festive demon to his family home. (IMDB)

Starring:  Adam Scott, Toni Collette, and Emjay Anthony

Writers: Todd Casey, Michael Dougherty, and Zach Shields

Director: Michael Dougherty

Rating: PG-13 (United States)

Running Time: 98mins


Krampus is a bizarre film. It’s a Christmas-horror-comedy mix, that doesn’t hold back on any of those elements. From the director of Trick-R-Treat, arguably one of the best horror movies of the 21st century, Michael Dougherty tries his hand at a more light-hearted horror film. There are definitely parts of Krampus that are funny, while other parts will terrify you. It’s weird, unconventional, and the perfect movie to represent what a Christmas-horror film should look like. Adam Scott and Toni Collette are great in this dark horror film. If you’re looking for something a little different to watch this holiday season, Krampus might just be the perfect film for you.

Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Synopsis: A gentle man, with scissors for hands, is brought into a new community after living in isolation. (IMDB)

Starring:  Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, and Dianne West

Writer: Caroline Thompson

Director: Tim Burton

Rating: PG-13 (United States)

Running Time: 105mins


Although Edward Scissorhands isn’t technically a Christmas movie, it takes place during Christmas in a suburban neighborhood. The whole film technically revolves around Christmas. Burton’s take on Beauty and the Beast is beautiful, well-acted and delightful. There’s a hint of darkness because of Edward’s attire and Burton’s typical style, but the story is one that will definitely fit in with the rest of your typical Christmas films. Burton’s direction here is the best its ever been, and Edward Scissorhands stands as a serious contender for the best Burton film to date.

Holidays (2016)

Synopsis: HOLIDAYS is an anthology feature film that puts a uniquely dark and original spin on some of the most iconic and beloved holidays of all time by challenging our folklore, traditions and assumptions. (IMDB)

Starring: Madeleine Coghlan, Savannah Kennick, and Rick Peters

Writers: Anthony Scott Burns, Kevin Kölsch, Nicholas McCarthy, Gary Shore, Kevin Smith, Sarah Adina Smith, Scott Stewart, and Dennis Widmyer

Directors: Anthony Scott Burns, Kevin Kölsch, Nicholas McCarthy, Adam Egypt Mortimer, Gary Shore, Kevin Smith, Sarah Adina Smith, Scott Stewart, and Dennis Widmyer

Rating: R (USA)

Running Time: 105mins


The problem with anthology films is that they tend to be super inconsistent. Some bits may be great, and others may be not so great. The problem is that, with such a huge variety of directors and actors, there’s no way to ensure quality control over the film. Holidays does somewhat suffer from this problem, but it’s too interesting to pass up. It’s an anthology film that tackles the most popular holidays, and there’s definitely some Christmas shorts in there. There’s even a segment that’s directed by Kevin Smith in there titled “Halloween.”

If you’re a fan of anthology films, this one will definitely not disappoint. If you’re not, it might still be an interesting film to check out.

The Signalman (1976)

Synopsis: A lonely Signalman is visited by a stranger. (IMDB)

Starring: Denholm Elliott, Bernard Lloyd, and Reginald Jessup

Writer: Andrew Davies

Director: Lawrence Gordon Clark

Rating: N/A

Running Time: 38mins


Admittedly, The Signalman doesn’t have much to do with Christmas. Instead, it’s a part of a long standing tradition to tell horror stories and ghost stories during the holiday season. It was produced as a part of the ‘Ghost Stories for Christmas’ series in 1976. Since then, it’s been mostly forgotten. Sitting at just 38 minutes, this short film is well worth your time. The atmosphere and mystery is very intriguing, and offers a big reward for a small time investment. It’s based on a story by Charles Dickens, and adapted by Andrew Davies, which is one of the best combinations a person could ask for. If you’re in the mood for a scary mystery film to kick off your Christmas celebrations, The Signalman will be a great watch.

There are other great Christmas horror films as well, but these 5 are some of the best. If you’re getting tired of the typical old happy Christmas films, it might be beneficial to take a chance on one of these.


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