Every December, the internet becomes a battleground between people arguing whether or not certain films qualify as “Christmas Movies”. And with the horror community likewise frequently debating about whether a film is truly horror (or just thriller), we thought it would be fun to combine these two debates and do a good old fashioned, D&D style alignment chart!
For our two axes, we have Christmas Lawful/Neutral/Chaotic and Horror Lawful/Neutral/Chaotic. These refer to whether that movie is definitely, sort of, or not really Christmas or horror.
Christmas/Horror Lawful – Silent Night, Deadly Night
While not the original killer Santa movie, this was the one that got concerned parents and religious folk up in arms about how horror movies were ruining society in the early 1980’s. It features a serial killing Santa who’s triggered and stressed by Christmas itself and if that doesn’t fit both horror and Christmas criteria, what does?!
Christmas Lawful/Horror Neutral – Violent Night
The newest movie on this list is without a doubt Christmas to its core. David Harbour plays a brutally violent Santa with a heart of gold who discovers the meaning of Christmas again. And while it does have a lot of great, gory, and creative kills, it’s definitely more of an action film than horror. So it remains neutral in that category.
Christmas Lawful/Horror Chaotic – A Christmas Carol
Arguably the oldest piece of Christmas fictional media, Charles Dickens’ novella has been inspiring people to feel the Christmas spirit for nearly two centuries now. It’s about as Christmas as it gets. By no means is it a horror movie, but many adaptations (especially the 2009 Robet Zemeckis film) can get downright creepy. The entire sequence with the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come feels like something out of a nightmare (which is very intentional). So while it’s an uplifting story that families enjoy every year, that tiny dash of horror in it deserves to be recognized.
Christmas Neutral/Horror Lawful – Anna and the Apocalypse
Having gained a cult following in the few years since its release, this British zombie Christmas musical is an amazingly fun time with genuinely catchy songs. It hits all the marks for horror with the whole zombie apocalypse and violent deaths and dismemberments. But we’re only giving it a “Christmas Neutral” category because while the movie is set over the holiday season, Christmas itself doesn’t really factor much into the plot other than the background setting.
Christmas/Horror Neutral – Gremlins
This is probably the most contentious category here. Because how does one even decide what constitutes as sort of a Christmas movie and sort of a horror movie. Gremlins fits this bill perfectly because it’s wholesome, cute, and fun, but also disturbingly violent and full of mayhem. And it’s another movie set during the Christmas season, but the holiday itself or Santa don’t really play a large role in the plot (other than Phoebe Cates’ incredibly disturbing Santa monologue). It’s a movie that’s a little bit of everything!
Christmas Neutral/Horror Chaotic – Die Hard
Let’s settle this debate once and for all. Is Die Hard a Christmas movie? The most accurate answer is sort of. No, the plot doesn’t directly involve Christmas (other than the fact that it’s a holiday party and it’s set on Christmas Eve). But it’s definitely more Christmasy than anything from the “chaotic” category, so it’s where it belongs somewhere in the middle. No one could really say it’s a horror movie though since it’s clearly action. But hey, it features kills, dead bodies, and a few scary situations for the characters so it fits. You might think we’re grasping at straws here, but that’s kind of the whole point of the “chaotic” categories.
Christmas Chaotic/Horror Lawful – House of 1000 Corpses
So you’re probably wondering why this movie is even on this list. It’s definitely a grotesque Rob Zombie brand of horror, but the movie is set over Halloween and doesn’t really have anything to do with Christmas. Well this is mostly true, except for one very brief scene that is just enough to classify this as “Christmas Chaotic”. When Otis is disposing of the concerned father who came looking for his daughter, we see a brief glimpse of the family at Christmas looking happy together as he’s dying.
Christmas Chaotic/Horror Neutral – Child’s Play
At risk of inciting online arguments, the 2019 remake of Child’s Play isn’t a bad movie. It was just frustrating that it was made when the original continuity was still running. But that being said, it’s a decent piece of Black Mirror-inspired sci-fi horror. And it gets the “Christmas Chaotic” ranking because while it’s set around Andy’s birthday, there is snow in the ground, as well as Christmas decorations that characters are in the process of taking down. So you get the sense that it’s set some time around or just after Christmas.
Christmas/Horror Chaotic – Edward Scissorhands
And finally, how do you pick a movie that’s not really horror and not really Christmas? Couldn’t that just easily be any movie of any other genre? We figured that it had to be something that was almost of either subgenre. So when we think of almost horror that’s not quite horror, Tim Burton immediately comes to mind. Edward Scissorhands is a Frankenstein-esque story about a man created in a lab. And it features a Christmas party at the end, so it’s just enough of each one to fit the bill for the hardest category here!
What’s your favorite Christmas Horror movie? Which movies would you have put in each category? Let us know in the comments!
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