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Wednesday, December 9, 2020

8 Haunted Holiday Horror Movies to Get You in the Christmas Spirit

Long before the spirits of Christmas tormented Ebenezer Scrooge, it was a holiday tradition to share ghost stories. Scaring each other silly with tales around the campfire is as old as time, but Christmas specific ghost stories are thought to stem from Pagan winter solstice tradition. Meaning that by the time author Charles Dickens came around, the practice was waning dramatically as new, modern traditions took root. All of which to say that it’s high time to resurrect the haunted holiday tradition.

In a subgenre of horror long-dominated by psychos in Santa suits, holiday horror could use more supernatural entries. Paranormal entities could serve as many metaphors suited for the season, from loneliness to new beginnings, as these eight haunted holiday horror movies prove. 


The Curse of the Cat People

The sequel to 1942’s Cat People is a very different beast from its predecessor, even though the core cast all reprise their roles. It’s a holiday set ghost story that follows the young daughter of Oliver (Kent Smith) and Alice (Jane Randolph). She’s lonely and friendless and finds herself befriending her father’s deceased first wife, Irena (Simone Simon). In other words, think a feel-good Christmas tale full of ghosts and acceptance, rather than scares. It’s a touching coming of age tale with a genre spin, directed by The Haunting’s Robert Wise and produced by the legendary Val Lewton.


A Christmas Horror Story

This horror anthology set on Christmas Eve connects five seasonally themed tales of terror via a radio DJ (William Shatner). High school students investigating a holiday suicide, a son behaving strangely after the family obtains their Christmas tree, another family being terrorized by Krampus, and poor Santa Claus battling zombie elves at the North Pole all put the ho-ho-ho in holiday horror. It’s the first segment that centers around a haunting in the bowels of a high school. An unholy nativity unfurls for the trespassing students. As with all anthologies, segment mileage varies, but this movie brings the yuletide terror as a whole. 


Wind Chill

A girl (Emily Blunt) finds a ride home through a bulletin board at her college, though she’s instantly put off by how much the driver (Ashton Holmes) seems to know about her. As if the icy tensions aren’t enough to deal with on the long drive, he takes a shortcut, and they wind up stranded in the middle of nowhere. Dangerous weather conditions and no aid in sight would be problematic in the best circumstances, but this lonely stretch of the road happens to be filled with angry and relentless spirits. A psychological chamber piece, enjoyment here will likely hinge on how well you tolerate the two leads. Blunt’s character is intentionally abrasive, and Holmes must work overtime to overcome his character’s initially creepy tendencies. Still, it offers some great scares and an interesting spin on the survival-meets-paranormal story.


Dead End

It’s late, and Frank Harrington (Ray Wise) still has a long way ahead of him to get to his in-laws on Christmas Eve. His eyelids are growing heavier by the mile; Frank decides to try a shortcut in the middle of nowhere. After narrowly avoiding a car crash, Frank’s detour proves to be a nightmare when he and his family become haunted by paranormal activity and a strange hearse. Dead End is a small, quiet little haunter with a great cast. Lin Shaye plays Frank’s wife, with Alexandra Holden as Frank’s daughter. Toggling between eerie chills and dark comedy, Dead End offers an underseen and creepy holiday haunter with a twist.


Saint

Not in the mood for atmospheric haunted house fare? Leave it to Dick Maas, the mind behind Amsterdamned, to transform the Christmas ghost into a slasher. On the full moon of December 5, St. Nicholas’s murderous evil spirit comes to town to unleash terror and mayhem along with his zombie-like Black Peters. It’s precisely the type of goofy fun you’d expect from Maas, this time with an irreverent holiday twist. It’s as funny as it is bloody, with strong effects work. Just don’t take it too seriously.


Dead of Night (1945)

This British horror anthology tells multiple tales of terror, but only one relates to the holiday. Even still, it’s a stone-cold classic, and there’s no better time than now to watch or revisit. “The Christmas Party” spins a chilling story of a ghostly encounter during a children’s Christmas gathering. Hide and seek becomes the perfect recipe for one party-goer to encounter the unexpected when she finds a great hiding spot. Come for this children’s party of terror and stay for the other substantial segments as well.


The Conjuring 2

The Hodgson family begins to experience strange occurrences in their home in Enfield’s London suburb after daughter Janet (Madison Wolfe) plays with an Ouija board. As the paranormal activity ramps up with escalating horror, enter Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) to save the day. James Wan’s sequel happens to be set over Christmas, and the haunting takes precedence over any holiday festivities. That means that Christmas may not factor in as prominently as the others on this list, at least not in terms of iconography or d├ęcor. Still, The Conjuring 2 does make time to celebrate the Christmas spirit via togetherness and family. Ed even takes the time to boost morale with a sweet holiday serenade.


Scrooged

No haunted holiday horror list would be complete without at least one adaptation of Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol.” While there are a few memorable genre-leaning takes on the classic, we’re going with Richard Donner’s beloved ’80s film. Frank Cross (Bill Murray) is a cynical, selfish TV executive haunted by the spirits of Christmas past, present, and future in this ’80s retelling. Sure, it’s a comedy first and foremost, but some of those ghosts can be pretty terrifying. Thanks to Frank’s heavily decayed mentor Lew (John Forsythe) and nightmarish visions of Death, Scrooged presents family-friendly PG-13 holiday viewing that doubles as gateway horror.



source https://bloody-disgusting.com/editorials/3643956/8-haunted-holiday-horror-movies-get-spirit/

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