There are few things I enjoy more this time of year than sitting back and pressing play on a holiday classic. Kevin McCallister transforming his home into a booby-trapped funhouse of horrors, George Bailey manically running down the street wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, watching Jovie and Buddy sing “Baby, it’s Cold Outside,” there’s no shortage of iconic Christmas movie moments. These films inspire us to embrace the holiday spirit as the protagonist overcomes a variety of obstacles to learn the “true meaning of Christmas.”
These movies are magical, these movies are motivation, and these movies are also absolutely terrifying. As I embarked upon my annual holiday movie rewatch, one question lingered: Are the best Christmas movies actually stealthy horror films? On the surface, this sounds ludicrous, but let’s dig a little deeper. Perception is reality and these movies take on an entirely new element when viewed through a macabre point of view:
I’m not even going to mention 1994’s The Santa Clause, a film in which Tim Allen basically murders our old pal Kris Kringle and is like, “I AM SANTA NOW.”
When you stop to think about it, it makes you want to, well, scream.
I’m taking some liberties with the above plots, obviously, but it’s still a valid argument. The always divisive Die Hard doesn’t even attempt to conceal its dark side.
“John McClane, officer of the NYPD, tries to save his wife Holly Gennaro and several others that were taken hostage by German terrorist Hans Gruber during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles.”
That’s Die Hard’s actual IMDB synopsis. Hostages! Terrorists! Yippee ki-yay, indeed.
The Grinch, Gremlins, Bad Santa, Scrooged, and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation are littered with attempted murder, kidnapping, ghosts, sex, and literal demon GREMLINS wreaking unspeakable havoc. With the holly and the jolly comes the terrorizing and the horrifying.
Think about that next year as you wait for Santa to make his way down the chimney. You know, unless Tim Allen gets to him first. Happy holidays!