Cinema is the epitome of creativity. After we’re done with the old-fashioned beat ’em up movies, sappy love stories, comedic dramas where everything seems to go wrong, the mind begins to thirst for more. A new take on something to create a new product that ever existed before.
Just take a look at festivals. What do you associate Christmas as? A fun holiday, comparatively “soft” festival. Where an old bearded man fills your stockings with lots of presents, a day full of celebration and childhood wonder. But what if the usually benevolent Santa Claus turns rouge? What if Santa decides to punish everyone… with death? Santa slasher movies were one of the greatest experiments in the 1970s.
Killer Santa movies aren’t something one anticipated to be a thing at all. It subverts expectations to see Santa with red blood instead of red clothes, with blades instead of his deer, buff muscles instead of being an old man.
These movies often embrace the sheer ridiculousness of the situation by adding a comedic element, turning dark with grisly overtones of gore and horror, or may even tap into existential dread. Some movies don’t take themselves seriously, and some of the best Santa killer movies get so serious that they’re often gut-wrenching.
Let us delve into the all-expanding world of Santa killers in the following list…
1. Silent Night Deadly Night
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This is probably one of the famous Santa turned dark movies to be released. It took the genre of killer Santa movies by storm. However, it didn’t come without its hiccoughs, as it faced lots of parent opposition when it was released in theatres.
It was eventually removed from theatres by Tristan pictures, and a move was made to preserve “family values.” However, an independent distributor was later redistributed in 1986, and the movie finally hit the mass audience. A classic, it’s a great movie to spook the children with; a horror surprise in pretty packaging.
But contrary to the purpose, these mass protests and uproar over the movie gave it more attention than it probably would’ve garnered on its own. It quickly gained a rebellious audience who loved and grew with the movie. Such an entertaining story gained a massive fan following.
It’s probably suited that such a unique movie gets a unique story for the rise to fame.
Billy (Robert Brian Wilson) is the main character, a young boy whose parents are murdered by an uncharacteristically deadly Santa Claus. He was probably not a good boy that year…
When he grows up, exiting the confines of his orphanage, he takes up the mantle of the Killer Santa Claus and goes to give something a tad different than coal to the naughty kids around. His arsenal? Box cutters, deer antlers, hammers, screwdrivers, and much more. The sheer amount of sequels and reimagining the movie got speak for itself. It’s undoubtedly the first on the list if you’re in the mood for some punishment dealing with Santa’s craziness.
2. Santa’s Slay
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The movie goes against the grain and features pro-wrestler Bill Goldberg as a Santa who might’ve hit the gym. He certainly looks the part too, so some Santa-slaying, at least. The highlight of the movie is undoubtedly an entire family murdered in 3 minutes by the buff Santa.
According to the plot, Santa turns out to be pretty nefarious, unlike his looks. The red-clothed man is the devil’s son in this continuity. He’s a demon who made a bet with an angel, forced to spend 1000 years pretending to be the jolly old man we knew him to be (that’s a level of commitment to a bet, Santa). But the thousand years are now up, and Santa has some newfound freedom to return to his hold devil-y ways.
What better way to return than to go on a rampage? Aboard his sleigh on hellish deer, Santa is up for the joy ride. The movie is quite a handful, with Santa slaughtering a family one moment and a topless diva in the next. It’s quite a bizarre movie debut from writer/director David Steiman.
3. Tales from the Crypt (1972) [All through the house…]
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It’s probably one of the first forays into the horror Santa genre and set the scene for the rest of them to follow for the years to come. It’s the opening chapter of the 1972 “Tales for the Crypt.”
It was a remarkably original concept for the time no one had lost faith in the sheer innocence and kindness of Santa Claus till now… But now those jolly days were over, and Santa turns from a feeble, old, and nice man to a borderline vigilante and stalker to a woman who murdered her husband.
The film chooses the story over the spectacle of gore, with the only actual kill coming from the woman killing her husband. The scene receives acclaim for being well done and bone-chilling to this day. The film seeds in you the fear of the murderer, and one can’t help but side with Santa on this one. After all, how ruthless do you have to be to murder your truly nice and jolly husband?
The story was later adapted for a 1989 episode of the TV series “Tales from the Crypt,” so there’s an alternate way to re-experience it if you’re already watched the original pioneer horror Santa.
4. Santa Claws
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B-list movie actress Raven Quinn has quite the fan following, but one day, a fan-cum- neighbor, Wayne (Grant Kramer), takes it too far when he dons the mantle of Santa Claus, or rather Santa “Claws” due to his weapon of choice being a gardening claw. Rife with violent murders and women in various states of undress, the movie delivers on thrill after thrill.
Santa Claws dons a black ski mask, in contrast with the usual red and white Christmas attire, but a mass murderer must hide their identity. Maybe he should have had a better fashion sense and opted for a white to match, I guess. It’s not the best work by the direction team, but if you’re looking for a good killer Santa movie, it’s the one.
It’s the cheesy kind of movie you bet people sit through, and that has its audience. It’s been called cringe-worthy and awkward, but in the era of 2020, cringe content has its place in people’s hearts and is enjoyed with a certain degree of guilty pleasure.
It’s one of the more kid-friendly movies with slapstick humor, so it’s one of the few films that you can watch at a kiddie birthday party. Since most of them are well… Santas are going on murder rampages.
5. Silent Night (2012)
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A reimagining of Silent Night, Deadly Night (higher up on the list) is the most recent movie of the bunch and your best bet for a contemporary Homicidal Santa. However, it’s hard not to side with our dear Santa here since ultimately his killing rampage on Christmas is an attempt at justice- his victims include a perverted priest and a man involved in pornography production, to name a few.
With a healthy dose of vigilante justice, violent murders, political commentary as well as some good humor, Silent Night is a good package. While the original is still viewed fondly, this is a movie for those who wish a modern take on it and a shot of new for those whore tired of watching the old.
To conclude, whether you’re a gore enthusiast or someone who just likes cheesy one-liners while an unassuming old man ruthlessly murders a family of three, Santa has gifts for everyone. He brings gifts of horror and death for the naughty kids as well. Heavy Metal Santa must be quite an upgrade for the bad guys now instead of the old senile Santa bringing them coal for being naughty.
Tell your children you’re in for a family Christmas movie and watch them contort their faces as they end up realizing that the world isn’t as innocent as they thought.
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