For some Christmas is a time to be jolly, for others a time for religious celebration and for others it means nothing at all. But for a very small few, it means a heck of a lot of cheesy horror movies. I am one of those few and proud of it. Christmas horror films seem to have come about with the 1974 horror classic Black Christmas and has been a staple of the movie genre ever since. I want to share some VHS delights with you, maybe you can put some of these into your stockings. Be warned some of these films are so silly they will make your nose go red like Rudolph. Here are my favorite VHS Christmas horror covers.
Home for the Holidays – 1972
If you think your Christmas is going to be dull, then look at what these young women have to go through in theirs. Four sisters come and visit their ill father to wish him seasonal cheer. He has other things on his mind, as he believes his wife is trying to kill him. Obviously no one believes him and then the bodies start to show up all over the place. I love the faceless killer in this cover, a hooded mac is a favorite among killers all over movie land, but never has it looked so ominous. The floating head coming out of the body is a bit much though, looks like the killer has a weird mutation.
Silent Night, Bloody Night – 1972
This tale of Christmas joy starts with a poor chap called Wilford Butler having a pretty bad day when he is burnt alive in the mental asylum he runs. The estate moves to his grandson Jeffrey, who decides to make a tidy profit on the whole thing and sell it. This turns out to be a bad move on his part. The natives start to get a little restless and it appears there is a serial killer in the house. Is it all linked to Wilford’s death or is something else afoot? What says Christmas more than anything to me is that big bleeding skull with an axe in it. I bet everyone has one of these on their mantle piece during the festive season! It is nice to see someone in a movie actually wanting to sell the property they inherited. In every other horror film I have ever seen has the family keep the property, move in and get murdered. You do not really need that kind of stress at Christmas.
Tales From the Crypt – 1972
This is a classic British anthology movie based on the popular comics (though the Crypt Keeper just looks like an old man in this and not the decayed corpse we all know and love). It has the tale of a killer Santa stalking a young Joan Collins on Christmas eve. She is unable to call the police, because she has just murdered her husband. This section has a great twist ending in it and the film as a whole is fantastic. The cover though not really Christmas based, is still pretty awesome to look at. It is a hand coming out of the ground, and a skeleton biker for extra measure which wins me over.
Night Train Murders – 1975
Two female friends take a train ride to get home to their families for Christmas. But when some mild flirting with some male travelers on the train turns nasty, we have to wonder will they ever get home? Quite a brutal entry in the list, Christmas horror tends to be either comical or brooding horror. But with powerful and brutal scenes of violence against women, this one is in a league of its own. It appeared on the BBFC video nasties list in the UK on its first release and plays out a lot like the original Last House on the Left only set on a train. The cover also looks like a spin on the Last house style. One for people with tough stomachs only.
Christmas Evil – 1980
Now we are getting to what I like to call the Santa slasher flicks. Tons of these came out in the 80s with very similar formulas. There are a lot of different covers for this particular film (and loads of different names for this film for that matter), but I love this one just because it looks incredibly cheesy. Again its a killer Santa, but this time the reason he is slightly warped is because he saw his dad dressed as Santa touching up his mother. As an adult that same notion of right and wrong that he has taken from Santa pops up again, as he decides to go out giving good guys gifts and bad guys death. The ending to this one is incredible and involves the killer been driven off a bridge in a van. The van then flies into the air and the title ” Twas the night before Christmas ” flashes up. They don’t make them like this anymore.
To all a Good Night – 1980
Yes this is another killer Santa film (though the cover would have you think otherwise) and it follows much the same formula as the others did. It uses sorority girls as the cannon fodder here and they are murdered in their dorms by two killers dressed up as Santa Claus. The director of this film is David Hess, the man many of you horror fans may remember as the main killer in Last House on the Left. The main reason I love this cover is because it really freaks me out for some reason. I am a bit of a wuss I admit it, but look at that creepy face!
Don’t Open Till Christmas – 1984
Another cheesetastic cover for another slasher Santa movie. This time it is slightly different. It is Santa himself who is getting bumped off. Well his helpers are anyway. Anyone wearing a Santa outfit is murdered in a pretty gruesome way. Our last line of defense? Inspector Harris who is running around like a blue arse fly trying to stop the killing. This VHS also has another cover which involves a dagger stabbed through a present. That cover looks better, but this one has a cheeky charm all of its own.
Silent Night, Deadly Night – 1984
One of the more famous Santa horror movies. This one has a child who watches his parents get killed by a thief in a santa get up. This leaves him slightly messed up. Having the kid sent to an orphanage does not help him. As an adult he is not best pleased when he finds out that he has to play Santa in the store he works in. All is going well for him however, until he sees a fellow worker try to rape someone and then he becomes a Santa of justice. His brand of justice is slightly different from the traditional justice we know of, and most people are fair game for him to smash-up with an axe. A great movie and a great cover which just grabs you by your eye sockets and does not let go.
Child’s Play – 1988
Now I am not going to hark on about the plot in Childs Play. Pretty much everyone on the planet is aware of the killer doll called Chucky who just wants to be a real man again and will kill anyone to do it (but if you did not know about the film then that’s the plot right there). What I like about the first film and this cover especially, is that it is trying to create an air of mystery about itself. The cover does not just splash Chucky all over all it, there is some thought behind this sleeve. In fact on close inspection you would be hard pressed to know what type of movie this is. The original does play out more like a dark horror movie than the pop corn feel of the later movies and this is reflected here.
Elves – 1989
I have saved the best till last, or certainly the weirdest till last. An anti Christmas ritual (what ever that is) causes an ancient demonic Christmas elf to rise up again. That’s the basic plot, but boy does it get weirder. Neo Nazis want to use the creature to rule the world. Seems Hitler back in the day wanted a half human / half elf race to help him rule the world, but never got around to doing it. Then we have Kirsten, the last in the line of the Nazi Aryan race and also a virgin and part of an inbred up bringing she is unaware of. So obviously the neo Nazis want this young lady for copulation purposes with the elf. And so on. I did warn you it was weird. But if nothing else it is the most original Christmas film on here and the cover is absolutely amazing so credit should be given for that alone.
So that’s the end of this killer Christmas, here is hoping you can all survive the killer Santa and monster elves long enough to at least have yourself a grand old-time during the holiday period. Maybe you will even have time to try some of these little treats to bring yourself some Christmas cheer.