With the festive season creeping around the corner, and the imminent rush of Christmas films threatening to burst onto our televisions at any given second, this time of year can be pretty bleak for the average horror fanatic. Left to grapple at any spooky string they can get their hands on, horror fans are seemingly left neglected, with nothing to tide them over until it becomes seasonally appropriate to slip that slasher DVD back into the tray. But fear not - although it might seem like a weird blend of interests, the Christmas category is not without its fair share of scares. Here's five doses of drear to pull you through the season of cheer:
Tales from the Crypt
Based on the popular EC Comics series of the same name, Tales from the Crypt allows for a little festive warmth to waft down into its cool alcoves. Released in 1972, the film takes the form of an anthology - as is the case with a lot of holiday themed movies - focusing on the the stories of five strangers which interweave to create one big overarching tale. It is only the first segment - entitled ...And All Through the House - that is explicitly festive. Starring Dynasty's Joan Collins, the segment tells a tale of merry mariticide. After murdering her husband, our leading lady meets her comeuppance when she is terrorized by a homicidal Mr Claus.
Cult classic Black Christmas is often praised with having been one of the first slasher films, and the first of its kind to conclude without revealing the killer's identity. It is also credited with having influenced the likes of Halloween. This 1974 Canadian psychological horror is said to have taken inspiration from a real life series of murders that occurred in Quebec. The plot centres around a group of sorority sisters who are hounded by an unknown assailant who spends the holidays camped out in their attic.
Silent Night, Deadly Night
Continuing with the slasher theme, Silent Night, Deadly Night came a decade after Black Christmas in 1984. The film kick-started a franchise spanning five installments as well as a loose remake almost three decades later. Despite its cult following, the movie was initially met with controversy and was subsequently pulled from cinemas. It's unsurprising that this was the case considering its content, which features a young man suffering PTSD following the murder of his parents one Christmas Eve who handles his emotional trauma by donning a Santa costume and going on a killing spree of his own.
With one foot in the comedy camp, 2015's Krampus takes traditional European folklore and gives it a darker twist (if the original tales weren't torturous enough!). According to legend, the Krampus acts as St Nick's more sinister counterpart, administering punishments to children who misbehave. In this modern rendition, the horned, demonic antagonizer of naughty children infiltrates a quiet family Christmas when it is accidentally summoned by an unknowing young boy.
A Christmas Horror Story
Krampus makes his second appearance in this list with the folklore fueled A Christmas Horror Story (also released in 2015) and takes on Santa Claus in the ultimate seasonal showdown. As seen in Tales From the Crypt, the film goes down the anthology route, splitting the narrative into four stories that are gelled together by an on going radio broadcast. William Shatner - of all people - is stuck hosting the show during Christmas. Bit of a cheap deal for the captain of the Starship Enterprise.
From cult classics, to Christmas cheese, there is a wealth of festive fears that are seemingly overlooked. Perhaps this is due to the odd clash of genres, or maybe they are simply overshadowed by constant reruns of family favourites. Either way, this list should hopefully satisfy those niggling horror cravings without dampening the holiday spirit.
What's your favourite festive horror film?