A poster for one of the greatest horror-themed Christmas movies of all time, ‘Christmas Evil’ 1980
The fantastic phenomenon of Christmas-themed horror is something that helps me get through the holidays. The idea of a knife-wielding maniac who shows up unexpectedly after-hours at your house pairs perfectly with the happy fantasy of a guy with a white beard wearing a red suit who was also able to sneak into your house while you were in your bed dreaming of dancing sugar plums or some shit like that. In accordance with the rules of Santa’s ability to surreptitiously gain access to your home, everyone must also be fast asleep—OR ELSE! So really, it’s not much of a stretch to reimagine this scenario having a much more sinister tone—where instead of a sack of presents Santa Claus is armed with an ax and a naughty list with your name on it.
Regardless of the time of year, I’m always up for eyeballing a horror film. And thankfully there are more than a few excellent Christmas-themed horror films that give us the gift that just keeps on giving—movies that cater to those of us that prefer Santa serving up some good-old-fashioned blood and gore while he slashes his way into our hearts—quite literally. One film I’d like to explicitly call out here that you may not be aware of is 1995’s El día de la bestia or Day of the Beast. The Spanish film is a holiday gem that brilliantly gets laughs out of its horror storyline by teaming up the unlikely duo of a Catholic priest and a heavy metal headbanger, who join forces to stop the birth of the Antichrist. While that should be more than sufficient to sell this glorious film, there’s MORE! Here are a few words I swiped from the start of the trailer for Day of the Beast that further illuminate the film’s fantastic balls-out synopsis:
On December 25, 0000 Christ was born
On December 25, 2000, The Anti-Christ will be born.
One pious priest can stop this force of evil
But to gain admittance to the devil’s coven, he must become…
DAMN. I can’t recommend strongly enough that you try to track this film down (as well as pretty much every other title in this post) and own it, especially if you’re a fan of blasphemy and priests doing all kinds of stuff that only Satan would approve of. I’ve posted a large selection of holiday horror film movie posters and DVD art below as well as the bonkers trailer for Day of the Beast. Hail Santa!
‘Silent Night, Bloody Night’ 1972
‘Black Christmas’ 1974. Artwork by Justin Osbourn of Slasher Design. This image was used for a limited series of T-shirts in 2012 and was too great not to include in this post.
The artwork for the French DVD release of ‘Santa’s Slay’ 2005
The artwork for the French DVD release of the 1989 film ‘Elves.’ The film stars ‘The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams’ star Dan Haggerty who in this movie does battle with neo-Nazis and sex-crazed elves.
‘Don’t Open till Christmas’ 1984
‘To All a Goodnight’ 1980
A Japanese poster for ‘Silent Night, Deadly Night’ 1984
A poster for ‘Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2’ 1987
The Blu-Ray artwork for ‘A Cadaver Christmas’ (2011) by the excellent Tom Hodge, a.k.a. The Dude Designs
‘Home for the Holidays’ 1972 (with Sally Field!)
‘Santa Claus’ 1959
‘The Gingerdead Man’ 2005
Artwork for the 2010 Dutch film ‘Saint’ (Dutch title: ‘Sint’)
Artwork for the holiday slasher ‘All Through the House’ 2015
‘Day of the Beast’ 1995
As promised, here’s the nutty trailer for Day of the Beast:
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
‘The Signalman’: A classic ghost story for Christmas
Bad Santa: Creepy vintage photos of some nightmares before Christmas
Have a very ‘Phantasm’ Christmas with this deadly ‘Sentinel Sphere’ ornament
‘Black Christmas’: The groundbreaking 1974 slasher film that paved the way for ‘Halloween’
Fear & Loathing at Christmas: Watch Dr. Hunter S. Thompson burn his Christmas tree