You hear it everywhere: high-pitched voices raised in song, calling out, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year…”
Well, if all that cheer isn’t really your thing, there are plenty of movies that celebrate the chaos and mayhem of the Christmas season. Robberies? Check. Murder? Why not. Break-ins? Santa doesn’t count, but you better lock your doors just to be safe. This year on the 24th, keep the milk and cookies to yourself and try to sit through some of these holiday horror classics.
Home for the Holidays (1972)
While the title sounds cheery enough, the return to the family hearth of these four adult sisters on Christmas Eve is anything but. This campy classic thriller stars Walter Brennan as the family patriarch, Julie Harris as his new wife, and Eleanor Parker, Jill Haworth, Jessica Walter, and a young Sally Field as the four adult sisters. This film takes the idea of a dysfunctional family to a whole new level when individual family members begin to turn up murdered by one of their own.
A houseful of sorority girls are throwing a holiday party during the break from classes before going their separate ways for the Christmas holiday. What could go wrong? Only a deranged killer taking up residence in the attic of the sorority house and picking off the girls and their house mother one by one. In keeping with classic horror themes, those that die first tend to be the most promiscuous and with the most questionable morals, leaving no one particularly safe in this one.
To All A Goodnight (1980)
Here we have another round of someone murdering sorority-type girls during a Christmas party, this time with their boyfriends along for the ride and much more blood and mayhem. While Black Christmas was more about the suspense and no reveal of the killer in the final acts, this one is a straight up gore fest and serves as a worthy precursor for the slasher films that were soon to be all the ‘80’s rage.
Home Alone (1990)
Unless you’ve been living in a cave completely off the grid for the last 25 years, you’ve heard of and likely seen at least part of this original film. It’s the story of eight year old Kevin, played by MacCaulay Culkin, who is accidently left behind in his family’s mansion while the extended family takes off for their Christmas vacation in Paris. This becomes a holiday home invasion film when Kevin has to get creative in thwarting the determined efforts of two burglars, played by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern, intent on ransacking the family mansion. Of course, had Kevin’s parents installed a security system to match the grandeur of their home, the plot would have been very different for this classic holiday movie.
The latest addition to the darker side of holiday movies. Krampus is based on a European folklore figure that is supposedly the opposite of Saint Nicholas, incarnated as Santa Claus. The krampus is supposedly the horned figure that rains coal and other nastiness on those who show less than stellar behavior during the Christmas season, or in the case of this movie, those who lose their Christmas spirit. Look out, Scrooge. With Krampus on the scene, you may not have a chance to change your ways before it’s too late. Co-written and directed by Michael Dougherty, this one may be set to join the ranks of the next generation of holiday home invasion classics.
So, there you have it. If staying home for the holidays is your goal, make sure you secure the doors and windows, keep your Christmas spirit up, and don’t disregard any strange noises in the attic or basement. With a little common sense, and a generous helping of popcorn, you can enjoy both the holiday and these holiday horror classics.