Holiday Horror

Sandy ClawsIt’s December and as kitsch as it sounds, I desire that which is Christmassy. I’m sure you have a favorite Christmas movie or even book. Every year I slap my knees at Clark W. Griswold and chuckle when Ralphie finally gets his Red Ryder BB gun and then almost shoots his eye out. And who doesn’t get a little misty eyed when Clarence gets his wings?

This December, however, my interests seem a little different. Whether it’s the gloomy weather or the fact that I watch zombies eat people every week, I want tales of holiday horror. Here is my list of books and films that add a bit of the macabre to Christmas.

Feel free to add to it.

The Nightmare before Christmas

Tim Burton’s stop motion film is about Jack Skellington, the director of Halloween town, who accidentally finds the portal to Christmas town. He becomes obsessed with Christmas, has Santa kidnapped, and decides to run Christmas himself only to have a face-off with the military. It’s the same old Victorian holiday tale.

So, Halloween sort of attacks Christmas? Yeah, this is a great film. Not since peanut butter was added to chocolate has there been such a fantastic crossover of tastes. This film is so good that I can forgive Burton Batman Returns.


Joe Hill’s novel is about the disturbingly named Christmasland and the supernatural killer who runs it, Charles Manx. Manx abducts children and keeps them forever in Christmasland, a place where nothing bad ever happens and it’s always Christmas. The parents of these kids get horrifying midnight calls in which they hear several children caroling and the sounds of holiday ‘cheer.’

Yeah, although Burton’s Christmas Town and Hill’s Christmasland sound similar, they are not. This one ain’t funny and it ain’t for the easily frightened. Maybe this one would be perfect for the mood of December 26th, huh?


We know the rules. Don’t expose them to sunlight. Don’t get them wet. And never, ever feed them after midnight. Holy crap, this film is about my college years!

And of course they do all of the above, thus turning the cute, lovable, and squeaky Mogwai into a reptilian monster. Lots and lots of them (see above: water). Still, I can’t believe they made a film about my college years five years before I went to college. Except, replace ‘Don’t get them wet’ with ‘Don’t let him near whiskey.’

The Stupidest Angel

If there is a writer who tells a humorous horror tale better than Christopher Moore then I do not know them. It’s Christmas time in familiar (to Moore fans) Pine Cove, California, and all of the normal Christmassy things are happening: gift wrapping, shopping, annoying Christmas people, and ginger bread cookies.

Oh yeah, and Santa takes a shovel to the head.

Now, you might think that Santa’s murder a week before Christmas makes for a downer of a story, but that’s where our eponymous character comes in to save the day. Man, you have got to read this book. As with almost everything Moore has written: frickin’ hilarious.


The classic of classics. You might not know this late ‘80s film, but you no doubt know its original – Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Both Scrooged and A Christmas Carol follow the Christmas Eve trials of a stingy and bitter businessman as he is visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, Christmas present, and Christmas yet to come.

Why is Scrooged better?

To be fair, it’s hard to improve on Dickens, but if there is someone who can, then it’s Bill Murray. Throw in a disgruntled Bobcat Goldthwait and a Christmas ghost who kicks the crap out of Bill Murray, and you finally might be able to give Dickens a run for his money.

Still, though it is a comedy, there are some creepy spots. And I am not talking about Bill Murray’s skin.

Over to you

Add to this list! Do you know a film, book, story collection, or show that mixes horror and holiday? Any holiday, by the way, not just Christmas. We welcome horror in any holiday tradition. Oh yeah, a retelling of your family Christmas party does not count. I mean, we all understand where you’re coming from, but it doesn’t count.

  1. #1 by Amber Lite on December 5, 2013 - 11:22 pm

    It just doesn’t feel like Christmas until I see How The Grinch Stole Christmas…Damien, wth happened to the easier comment validator? I’ve tried to post this three times….

    • #2 by Damien Galeone on December 10, 2013 - 8:53 am

      Hm. I don’t know Amber, I’ll check it out. My buddy takes care of the tech stuff, so I’ll ask. Also, love the Grinch, can’t keep a dry eye when his heart grows ten times its normal size. sniff

  2. #3 by Andy on December 6, 2013 - 6:43 pm

    Scrooged is, without a doubt, one of my favorite holiday movies. While it doesn’t count has “horror,” I have to admit that “Elf” as made the “It’s not Christmas, unless I’ve seen this” group of flicks as well. Oh, and “Die Hard.”

    • #4 by Damien Galeone on December 10, 2013 - 8:48 am

      I forgot Die Hard! Yippee-ki-yay motherfucker! I mean…Merry Christmas.

  3. #5 by Jared on December 9, 2013 - 7:00 pm

    Great list Damien, but you left out a little known Jim Henson creation known as Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas. A loving tale of a mother and son otter trying to enjoy a christmas by selling their posessions in order to buy each other gifts (a la Gift of the Magi).
    A must see for evey Christmas enthusiast.

    • #6 by Damien Galeone on December 10, 2013 - 8:52 am

      I love Emmett Otter, Bigtime. But he’s not exactly horror. Well, there is that Doc Bullfrog fellow on the judging committee. Happy Hanukkah, by the way!

Comments are closed.