Christmas is nearly here. It’s the most wonderful time of the year — unless you accidentally play one of these movies at your holiday gathering. Don’t say we didn’t warn you — these are guaranteed bah humbug films.
1. Santa Claus vs. The Martians: There has never been a Christmas movie so insidious, nor a holiday ditty so devoted to making you want to murder yourself (although “Wonderful Christmastime” by Paul McCartney comes close). And because I love Christmas so much, I shared that song above. Watch for a young Pia Zadora!
2. Silent Night, Deadly Night: Does your season need a little bit of Santa Claus killing nuns in it? Good news, chum. We’ve heard your wish and have delivered it. Go for the sequel too and Shout! Factory will throw in a doll of the killer Santa!
3. Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny: A lot of parents wonder how old their children should be before they tell them the truth about Santa. Here’s an easier way to do it: make them watch this movie. They won’t ever talk about Kris Kringle ever again.
4. Gremlins: In 1984, parents took their kids to see the adorable Gizmo and then learned that they’d have to explain that daddy wasn’t going to die at Christmas. Blame Joe Dante.
5. Christmas Evil: John Waters said this about this movie: “I wish I had kids. I’d make them watch it every year and if they didn’t like it, they’d be punished.”
6. Elves: Dan Haggerty plays an alcoholic homeless ex-cop Santa who battles elves and incestual Nazis. Have yourself a merry little Christmas!
7. Black Christmas: Somehow, the same director who made a movie that has become a Christmas tradition in many homes also made this one, a movie that has become a holiday tradition in the homes of absolute maniacs. This is as dark as the season gets. The remake isn’t as good, but it does have a mother making love to her son who is yellow because of a liver condition, so there’s that.
8. Santa Claus vs. The Devil: Forget everything you ever knew about Santa. This movie is about to destroy everything you ever believed or held dear, with evil children and demons out to ruin the holiday and Merlin coming to the aid of St. Nick. There is absolutely no way that I can prepare you for this movie. You know when someone has a traumatic life event and people act like they understand but they don’t and everything said is just empty, awkward and poorly chosen words? That’s anyone talking to me who hasn’t endured this film.
9. Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas: If there’s a war on Christmas, consider this the opposition’s mother of all bombs. This is a movie so poorly rated that its star suggested that a pagan conspiracy was behind its bad buzz. The fourth wall is so broken by this film that all you can do is blankly stare at the screen and try and salvage what’s left of your sanity while an EDM cover of “Angels We Have Heard On High” brings the spirit of dance to everyone at Kirk Cameron’s holiday gala. Even writing these words gave me flashbacks and stomach pain.
10. Santa Claus The Movie: John Carpenter was originally going to direct this movie. While you ponder just how sad it is that we never got to see (and hear, just imagine his version of a carol) that film, we’ll always have this. And this is the kind of movie that schools show to kids on the day before vacation begins, the day that feels like an eternity before the holiday gets here and gives way to the crushing ennui of the January and February months where nothing good or happy happens. Also: The Big Lebowski plays Santa.
Looking for more? There’s also Don’t Open Until Christmas, a movie filled with Santa Clauses being murdered; Santa’s Slay, which features Bill Goldberg battling Robert Culp and Sint, the horrifying tale of Sinterklaas and the coverups that have kept holiday murders a secret.
Here’s a Letterboxd list full of the good and bad Christmas films we’ve watched.
Finally, a Christmas wish. I’m looking for a translated copy of 3615 code Père Noël, a French film that was supposedly the inspiration for Home Alone, but only if the child in the film was obsessed with American action movies and was going up against a murderer. Can you help? And what are your favorite movies to watch for Christmas?