While some people consider Christmas a ‘season to be jolly’ I’m more partial to something a bit more scary/off-beat during the dark, cold winter nights. Here are my top five disturbing Christmas films…
1. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)
If you ever wondered where all those creepy Santas come from then perhaps this Nordic fantasy/horror film will go some way to answering that. In Rare Exports scientists carrying out excavations on a mountain discover the ancient resting place of the original ‘Santa Claus’. When reindeer herds are found mysteriously slaughtered and local children start disappearing it would appear than this creature favours punishing the ‘naughty’ rather than rewarding the ‘good’. After the lost of his herd of cattle a local reindeer farmer decides to attempt to capture ‘Santa’ and sell him back to the company responsible for the excavations. Unfortunately ‘Santa’ is not alone…
2. Films to Keep You Awake: A Christmas Tale (2005)
A Christmas Tale is part of the Six Films to Keep You Awake series. A group of children discover a woman, dressed in a Santa Claus outfit, trapped at the bottom of a hole in the woods. When they discover that the woman is wanted for a bank robbery they decide to keep her prisoner in the hole until she tells them where the money is hidden. Two of the children are obsessed with a Zombie horror film and decide to carry out a voodoo ceremony to transform her into a one… and then things all go a bit Shining.
3. Dead End (2003)
Christmas can be hell. Quite literally in Dead End, a creepy character-driven small budget film. Frank Harrington (played by Ray Wise of Twin Peaks fame) is driving his annoying family to his mother-in-law’s to celebrate Christmas when he decides to take a shortcut down a road that never seems to end. That’s a bad enough decision but when he decides to stop to offer a lift to a creepy woman, dressed in white and carrying a baby, things get worse.
4. Gremlins (1984)
For me Gremlins is the ultimate Christmas movie – It’s A Wonderful Life but with violent green monsters. An old woman is thrown through a window at high-speed by a sabotaged chair lift – what’s not to like? I make an effort to watch it every Christmas (though it’s always bugged me how the ‘rules’ for caring for a Mogwai don’t really make much sense – I mean, how do they drink?). Is this film really that disturbing though? Well, even though it’s more a dark comedy quite a few people probably get killed and/or eaten.
5. The Signalman (1976)
The Signalman is part of the BBC’s a Ghost Story for Christmas series and based on the classic short story by Charles Dickens. Denholm Elliot plays a lonely signalman who is being slowly driven mad by a ghostly apparition from a nearby tunnel, whose appearance always portents to an impending horrific accident. Great to watch late on Christmas Eve with the lights off and a glass of port.