Sometimes, you just want to cuddle up and watch a scary movie with your special someone or family, and since I’ve already explained to you last week how the cold, dark nights of winter make the Christmas season perfect for ghost stories, it’s movie time!
The same ghostly holiday spirit holds true with Christmas movies, and although there are plenty of cheesy Christmas themed slasher and horror stories out there, there are also some genuinely good and creepy Christmas films all getting a PG-13 rating, ideal for a stay-at-home date night, or for families with tweens and teens who appreciate good scares and tale. Not all of these are instant holiday classics, but I sure enjoy them. (RELATED: Inappropriate Christmas Songs [VIDEOS])
The legend of the anti-Santa, Krampus, comes to the United States, and a family who has severely lost their Christmas spirit learns the hard way he doesn’t care how sorry your are for your actions. The creature effects were genuinely creepy (thanks to Weta Workshop’s involvement), and the eeriness is achieved without over-the-top gore.
A struggling inventor brings home an “exotic pet” for his son, and apparently three simple rules are too much to follow before all Hell breaks loose. One of the films that helped bring about the PG-13 rating, the Joe Dante and Stephen Spielberg critter-fest had the right amount of 80s-style fantasy storytelling with a few really scary little moments: “Do you hear what I heeaaar?” Plus, Gizmo was the original “Baby Yoda” (aka Grogu), in terms of awww factor. How could you not fall in love with him?
I finally got to see the 1990 sequel, and it felt as if the Zucker Brothers or Jim Henson decided to make a fourth-wall breaking parody of the first. Unless you really want to see what happens, and are in it for the laughs only, I would skip it.
Did we really need another modern adaptation of A Christmas Carol? If Bill Murray is a soulless television executive, and Buster Poindexter (David Johansen) portrays the world’s coolest ghost cabbie, then yes, we do. Scrooged was, of course, a straight up comedy, but it caught you off guard with some solidly intense images, and tear-jerking moments. Directed by Richard Donner, this one holds up well, particularly today when we are all glued to our TV, phone, and computer screens.
Batman Returns (1992)
Yes, I do consider this one a Christmas movie, with the big Rockefeller Plaza style tree lighting by the corrupt Max Shreck (Christopher Walken), and a Batman/Catwoman style scene under the mistletoe. Thanks to Tim Burton, it is creepy from beginning to end, with the disposing of the homicidal Penguin baby by his parents, to the Jekyll and Hyde transformation of Selina Kyle to her alter ego, complete with one of cleverest uses of neon ever. Michael Keaton’s second time around as Bruce Wayne was not only wonderful, it was still just as dark and weird set among a very Gotham Christmas landscape.
Finally, as Tim Burton seems to love mixing the magic of Christmas with darker things…
Edward Scissorhands (1990)
You thought I was going to say The Nightmare Before Christmas, didn’t you? As much as I love that film, I always personally enjoy it more around Halloween (it is Jack Skellington’s story, after all). Edward Scissorhands, however, has a great performance by Johnny Depp, and takes us into a surreal mid-century nightmare of a town, dropped in the middle of a tragic Oz like story. It has plenty of laughs, with a tragic, unsettling ending that makes us think about how we treat others. It is also a good creepy story, and even the great Vincent Price appears in a small role. This story has been made into classical ballet, and there is plenty of fanfiction out there from people longing to give poor Edward a happier ending.
So, grab the popcorn, gather the family (or curl up with your honey) and do that hot chocolate thing in front of a creepy, Christmas film.