20 Demented Holiday Movies For Fans Of "Violent Night"

While some stick to Christmas classics such as A Christmas Story or Elf for their holiday season media diet, it seems a whole heap of people have elected to check out some season's beatings in the David Harbour-starring Violent Night.

87North Productions

Featuring the Stranger Things actor as a badass Santa Claus taking on highly-trained mercenaries whose heist interferes with his gift-delivery route, Violent Night has been kicking butt in theaters and, as of this week, on Video-on-Demand. But if you've seen and loved Violent Night and are looking for more not-so-merry content for your media diet on Christmas weekend, you're in luck, as I've assembled 20 twisted Christmas flicks that will entertain you naughty folk more than a lump of coal.

1.Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

An old, bearded man hangs suspended in a weird clinical chamber

Cast: Onni Tommila, Jorma Tommila, Ilmari Järvenpää, and Peeter JakobiDirector: Jalmari HelanderRuntime: 84 MinutesRating: RRotten Tomatoes

Many of the most twisted fables and mythological creatures surrounding the holidays have emerged from Scandinavian history, and half of the reason they've endured so well is the charming embrace of the lurid lore over the years. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale is the perfect example of this lovingly sardonic attitude, as the Finnish horror-comedy follows a Finnish family that discovers the "shocking truth" about Santa Claus. The film itself is a wild ride worth taking even if it may be too rough for younger viewers, but the spirit of Christmas is absolutely on display, albeit in a very chaotic and macabre manner.

Cinet Films / Via youtu.be

2.Deadly Games

A fake Santa Claus holds up a bloody razor

Cast: Alain Lalanne, Louis Ducreux, Patrick Floersheim, Brigitte Fossey, and François-Éric GendronDirector: René ManzorRuntime: 91 MinutesRating: Not RatedRotten Tomatoes

Also known as Dial Code: Santa Claus and Game Over, Deadly Games arrived in France before the release of Home Alone, a film with which it shares more than just thematic and narrative similarities. However, Home Alone is fun for the whole family, where the home invasion downplays the danger, and the violent comeuppance is played for laughs, while Deadly Games is a much more straight-faced take on the material, with the French film raising the stakes frequently and punctuating every violent moment with the proper amount of pain and gravity. But don't think Deadly Games isn't a ton of fun, as the film's outrageous action makes it an absolute blast, if perhaps as a late-night chaser to Home Alone once the kids have gone to bed.

L.M. Productions / Via youtu.be

3.Christmas Bloody Christmas

A blood-covered Santa Claus, illuminated by green lights, wields an axe

Cast: Riley Dandy, Sam Delich, Jonah Ray Rodrigues, Dora Madison, and Jeff Daniel PhillipsDirector: Joe BegosRuntime: 87 MinutesRating: Not RatedRotten Tomatoes

Joe Begos has made an impact in the horror genre in recent years, rocking fright fans with such splattery practical FX showcases like VFW, The Mind's Eye, and Bliss. For his most recent flick, which just debuted on Shudder, the filmmaker has brought his trademark anarchy and bloodshed to holiday fare in Christmas Bloody Christmas, in which a military-grade robot refitted into a "Mall Santa" goes haywire and becomes an unstoppable killing machine, targeting the owner of a nearby punk bar. Granted, you may need a strong stomach to fully enjoy this yuletide gorefest, but if you enjoy holiday horror and action-chiller hybrids, Christmas Bloody Christmas makes for a solid stocking stuffer on your seasonal watchlist.

Channel 83 Films / Via youtu.be

4.Black Christmas (2006)

Four young women scream at the discovery of a dead body in a snow bank

Cast: Katie Cassidy, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Lacey Chabert, Michelle Trachtenberg, and Oliver HudsonDirector: Glen MorganRuntime: 90 MinutesRating: RRotten Tomatoes

There's no denying that Bob Clark's original Black Christmas will forever be the benchmark for holiday horror films, but that shouldn't take anything away from its 2006 remake from The X-Files co-writers Glen Morgan and James Wong, a gruesome and transgressive offering that plays like a different beast entirely from its minimalist predecessor. Featuring a great ensemble cast, none of whom are safe regardless of their relative star power, Black Christmas is likely to offend (and even more likely to disgust), but regardless, the film is not only a fun and frightening entry into the Christmas Horror sub-genre but an underrated entry into contemporary slasher canon, period.

MGM / Courtesy Everett Collection

5.Santa's Slay

An intimidating Santa Claus stands imposingly in front of a fireplace

Cast: Bill Goldberg, Douglas Smith, Emilie de Ravin, Robert Culp, and Saul RubinekDirector: David SteimanRuntime: 78 MinutesRating: RRotten Tomatoes

If you're putting together a sleazy, tongue-in-cheek holiday horror comedy featuring a sadistic Santa Claus, who would be more appropriate to take on the mantle of Saint Nick than WWE Hall of Fame inductee Bill Goldberg? Produced by Rush Hour franchise director Brett Ratner, this surprisingly fun flick highlights an impressive cast, lots of cheeky references to holiday film favorites, and an effectively self-referential performance from Goldberg, who dishes out eye-rolling Christmas puns with menacing delight. Santa's Slay might be the type of film you’ll have to turn off your brain to enjoy, but other far more expensive and high-profile films have done much worse with similar material, so don't be surprised if this bone-crushing comedy joins your holiday viewing rotation on a permanent basis.

Media 8 Entertainment / Via youtu.be

6.Krampus (2015)

A hook drops down an extinguished fireplace near a sleeping child

Cast: Toni Collette, Adam Scott, Emjay Anthony, Allison Tolman, and Krista StadlerDirector: Michael DoughertyRuntime: 98 MinutesRating: PG-13Rotten Tomatoes

After crafting a contemporary classic for another holiday with the beloved horror anthology Trick 'r Treat, filmmaker Michael Dougherty turned his sordid sights on Christmas with this chilling and occasionally over-the-top Christmastime frightener. Featuring a cast largely known for their comedic and dramatic fare, including Adam Scott, Toni Collette, Allison Tolman, and David Koechner, Krampus surrounds a dysfunctional family who must put aside their petty differences when a supernatural force attacks their home, utilizing his horrific henchmen and macabre magic to dispose of all within. Capturing the essence of classic kindertrauma content, Krampus didn’t exactly catch on as much as Trick ‘r Treat but has become yearly essential viewing for a growing subsection of holiday horror enthusiasts.

Legendary Entertainment / Via youtu.be

7.Gremlins (1984)

Four scaly gremlins sing Christmas Carols in the snow

Cast: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton, Frances Lee McCain, and Dick MillerDirector: Joe DanteRuntime: 106 MinutesRating: PGRotten Tomatoes

A beloved and timeless holiday classic of the horror genre, Gremlins is the rare seasonal creature feature that you can enjoy all year round, even if it hits different once everyone is in the Christmas spirit. Produced by Steven Spielberg and directed by The Howling filmmaker Joe Dante, the freaky film follows a teenager who receives a strange pet known as a “mogwai” for Christmas from his father, though caring for the creature means following three very strict rules. When the rules are accidentally broken, the teenager, his family, and his community are forced to reckon with the mogwai’s vicious and darkly humorous brand of anarchy. Even though the film is bloodier and weirder than the holiday fare meant to make you feel warm and fuzzy, Gremlins has still made quite an impact on popular culture, spawning a sequel (which, in itself, inspired maybe the best Key & Peele sketch), an upcoming animated series, and even its own line of Furby dolls.

Warner Bros. / PictureLux / The Hollywood Archive / Alamy

8.Reindeer Games

A gun-wielding man in a Santa costume hides from a threat behind a door

Cast: Ben Affleck, Gary Sinise, Charlize Theron, Dennis Farina, and Clarence Williams IIIDirector: John FrankenheimerRuntime: 104 MinutesRating: RRotten Tomatoes

It’s far from the best John Frankenheimer film (and, if we’re being honest, far from the worst Ben Affleck film), but if you’re down for a modern day exploitation movie with a heaping helping of cheesy dialog and scenery-chewing performances, Reindeer Games has you covered. The ensemble thriller follows a car thief (Affleck) who decides to court the girlfriend of his recently deceased cellmate (Charlize Theron), only to fall victim to a case of mistaken identity by the woman’s hostile brother (Sinise), who hopes to use his familiarity with a casino for a Christmas robbery. The film jumps back and forth between silliness with sleaziness and doesn’t have much ambition to be anything more than a brainless shoot-’em-up, but Reindeer Games works as a nostalgic slice of early ‘00s action trash worth embracing despite all of its faults.

Dimension Films / AJ Pics / Alamy

9.Anna and the Apocalypse

A group of teenagers discover a new problem while hiding away from the living dead

Cast: Ella Hunt, Malcolm Cumming, Sarah Swire, Marli Siu, and Paul KayeDirector: John McPhailRuntime: 92 MinutesRating: RRotten Tomatoes

The title may not exactly evoke holiday cheer, yet Anna and the Apocalypse has accrued a sizable cult audience since debuting to high praise from critics in 2017. A cross between Christas romantic comedy, sensational musical, and gory zombie flick, Anna and the Apocalypse surrounds a group of teenagers in a small Scottish town whose high school drama and Christmastime pressures are exacerbated by the emergence of an undead outbreak, where they have to band together to make it through the holidays…literally. With music from Tommy Reilly and Roddy Hart, Anna and the Apocalypse will not only make for an eerie addition to your holiday watchlist but might even contribute to your annual Christmas playlist as well.

Magnolia Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

10.A Christmas Horror Story

A bloodied Santa is illuminated by a bright light in a dark room

Cast: William Shatner, George Buza, Amy Forsyth, Rob Archer, and Zoé De Grand MaisonDirectors: Grant Harvey, Steven Hoban, and Brett SullivanRuntime: 99 MinutesRating: Not RatedRotten Tomatoes

A holiday horror anthology featuring one of the most bonkers last act reveals this writer has ever seen, A Christmas Horror Story showcases four interwoven tales of terror that are linked together by the distressed ramblings of an alcoholic late night radio DJ, as played by the one-and-only William Shatner. Developed and directed by the creative team behind the Ginger Snaps trilogy, the stories themselves include tales about a haunted convent, a family that brings home a sinister shapeshifter with their Christmas tree, another family stalked by Krampus, and a Santa Claus tale in which the iconic figure goes toe-to-toe with zombified elves.

Copperheart Entertainment / Via youtu.be

11.Inside (2007)

A bloody woman with a shard of glass hides in the bathroom from her attacker

Cast: Alysson Paradis, Béatrice Dalle, Nathalie Roussel, François-Régis Marchasson, and Jean-Baptiste TabourinDirectors: Alexandre Bustillo & Julien MauryRuntime: 81 MinutesRating: RRotten Tomatoes

I’m going to be completely honest with you and say that Inside probably is too graphic and intense for most viewers, even those who might relish in the chaotic fun of some titles on this list. However, for those who want to truly have the most hardcore Christmas media diet this year and feel the gore of Violent Night is child’s play, Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo’s Inside is the film for you, as the breathtaking and truly provocative home invasion film pitting a pregnant woman against a knife-wielding sociopath just happens to fall on Christmas Eve. A gory yet important chapter in the French New Extremism cinema of the ‘00s, Inside was even notable enough to receive an English language remake starring Rachel Nichols (who, incidentally, shows up in another fairly intense X-mas tale later in this list).

Momentum Films / Maximum Film / Alamy

12.Silent Night (2012)

A man in a creepy Santa mask stares through a glass window

Cast: Malcolm McDowell, Jaime King, Donal Logue, Lisa Marie, and Ellen WongDirector: Steven C. MillerRuntime: 94 MinutesRating: RRotten Tomatoes

A reboot of the Silent Night, Deadly Night franchise that is not to be confused with the slow-burn, dread-inducing Christmas thriller from 2021, Silent Night trades the heavy-handed camp of its predecessor for a more straightforward, mayhem-driven proto-slasher story about a serial killer in a Santa suit. Directed by future direct-to-video action guru Steven C. Miller, Silent Night is a good, if not particularly noteworthy, holiday horror offering that is undeniably elevated by its charismatic cast that includes Malcolm McDowell, Jaime King, and Donal Logue as well as it’s splattery kill sequences. In other words, if Silent Night happens upon your living room this holiday season, fans of Violent Night will find an effective fix of Christmas chaos as an early gift.

Buffalo Gal Pictures / Via youtu.be


A bearded man in a red beanie wields two pistols at an enemy

Cast: Mel Gibson, Walton Goggins, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Chance Hurstfield, and Robert BockstaelDirector: Ian and Eshom NelmsRuntime: 100 MinutesRating: RRotten Tomatoes

Before David Harbour assumed the mantle of “vigilante Santa,” the title fell on Mel Gibson in this violent holiday action thriller from executive producers David Gordon Green and Danny McBride. Released under-the-radar toward the end of 2020 to mixed reviews, Fatman follows a jaded Chris Kringle living in Alaska who must deal with rising toy production costs, the temptation of a US military contract, and the ire of a naughty rich boy who demands revenge against Santa Claus, going as far as to hire a ruthless assassin to take out the mythical figure. A high-concept action flick that serves as the inverse to Violent Night by bringing the action directly to Santa’s warehouse, Fatman’s enjoyment factor directly correlates to your tolerance for Mel Gibson as an on-screen figure in the 2020s, though the film does exhibit some really solid supporting performances from Walton Goggins and Marianne Jean-Baptiste as well.

Saban Films / Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy

14.Batman Returns

Batman points a gun-like gadget at an enemy at a holiday celebration

Cast: Michael Keaton, Michelle Pfieffer, Danny DeVito, Christopher Walken, and Michael GoughDirector: Tim BurtonRuntime: 126 MinutesRating: PG-13Rotten Tomatoes

For those who prefer dark and demented Christmas stories in their seasonal rotation, its not uncommon to switch on the Bat signal and watch Tim Burton's extraordinary superhero sequel, Batman Returns. Upping the freaky factor by tenfold with the addition of Danny DeVito's vile Penguin, Michelle Pfeiffer's seductive Catwoman, and Christopher Walken's ruthless Max Shreck, this Batman tale really embraces Burton's sensibilities while spotlighting some of the most unforgettable action set against the backdrop of the holidays. Furthermore, Batman Returns is likely one of the more mainstream titles on this list, making it an unconventional yet acceptable holiday party film.

Warner Brothers / DC Comics / Alamy

15.A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas

Two men dressed as toy soldiers cower near shelfing units filled with wigs

Cast: John Cho, Kal Penn, Neil Patrick Harris, Danneel Ackles, and Paula GarcésDirector: Todd Strauss-SchulsonRuntime: 90 MinutesRating: RRotten Tomatoes

The seemingly final film in the unlikely Harold & Kumar gonzo comedy franchise, A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas hasn't exactly aged the best over the years, from the changing social climate making some jokes sink like a lead balloon to the poorly-aged 3D jokes that simply don't translate today. But that's not to say this stoner comedy from The Final Girls director Todd Strauss-Schulson doesn't have some true laugh-out-loud moments with jaw-dropping humor you won't find in any other holiday comedy. Add in the envelope-pushing meta humor from Neil Patrick Harris (as a fictional version of himself) and the genuine heart behind the franchise itself, A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas is guaranteed to please anyone who can withstand its deranged, sophomoric humor.

New Line Cinema / Mandate Pictures / Warner Bros. Pictures / Alamy

16.Better Watch Out

A young babysitter and her preteen client hide from an apparent threat

Cast: Olivia DeJonge, Levi Miller, Ed Oxenbould, Dacre Montgomery, and Patrick WarburtonDirector: Chris PeckoverRuntime: 89 MinutesRating: RRotten Tomatoes

An unsettling holiday home invasion picture anchored by an incredibly talented young cast, Better Watch Out surrounds a 17-year-old babysitter (Olivia DeJonge) watching a precocious 12-year-old boy (Levi Miller) who both begin to notice strange happenings around the house. However, things are not as they seem, and soon, the babysitter finds herself in a fight for her life against a sinister and unexpected enemy. To say anything more would spoil this twisted Christmastime flick, which is honestly best left unspoiled, but if you're looking for the "Monkey's Paw" version of Home Alone with a goosebump-inducing villain performance, look no further than Better Watch Out.

Storm Vision / Moviestore Collection Ltd. / Alamy

17.The Fireplace (aka Adult Swim Yule Log)

Logs roast in a seemingly ordinary fireplace

Cast: Andrea Laing, Justin Miles, Hannah Alline, Sean Hankinson, and Danielia MaximillianDirector: Chris “Casper” KellyRuntime: 91 MinutesRating: Not RatedRotten Tomatoes

An unexpected holiday treat from the mad mastermind behind Adult Swim's viral sensation Too Many Cooks, The Fireplace (also known by its covert substitute title, Adult Swim Yule Log) begins like any other streaming yule log video, but very soon thereafter, a series of events are triggered that paint the cabin as a nexus of terrible events throughout history. Out of a desire to prevent spoilers, I'll remain light on the details, but if you're familiar with Adult Swim's trademark aesthetics and content, including their "shock and awe" approach to humor, self-effacing surrealism, and penchant for doubling down on the unexpected and unpredictable, you might have an inkling of what is awaiting for you in The Fireplace.

Adult Swim / Via youtu.be


A woman in a revealing white dress hides near a pillar in a parking garage while holding an axe

Cast: Rachel Nichols, Wes Bentley, Simon Reynolds, Philip Akin, and Stephanie MooreDirector: Franck KhalfounRuntime: 98 MinutesRating: RRotten Tomatoes

The aforementioned Rachel Nichols stars in this underrated X-mas thriller from producer Alexandre Aja (Crawl) and director Franck Khalfoun (Maniac) that nearly entirely takes place in a parking garage in Midtown Manhattan on Christmas Eve. P2 follows a businesswoman forced to work late before a family party on the holiday, only to find herself caught in the spider's web of a sociopathic parking attendant, played wickedly by Wes Bentley, who hopes to win her affection through his misguided and dangerous actions. Soon enough, a deadly cat-and-mouse game breaks out between the pair as the woman desperately attempts to channel her survival instincts to prevent the night from becoming her last Christmas.

Tartan Films / Cinematic Collection / Alamy

19.Die Hard

A bloodied man in a tanktop and jeans swings into a building window with a fire hose

Cast: Bruce Willis, Bonnie Bedelia, Reginald VelJohnson, William Atherton, and Alan RickmanDirector: John McTiernanRuntime: 132 MinutesRating: RRotten Tomatoes

To address the obnoxious but popular question of "is Die Hard a Christmas movie?" the answer is a resounding yes. Not only has enough time passed that it has basically become one in popular culture, the "Ho Ho Ho, I have a Machine Gun" note really seals the deal; how would that sentiment make any sense outside of Christmastime? Hell, it'd be out of place in January! But I digress: Die Hard is the ultraviolent classic that essentially sets the blueprint for Violent Night, and something tells me that those two Christmas flicks will become a standard double feature for action fans everywhere.

IFA FIlm / United Archives GmbH / Alamy

20.Treevenge (2008)

A bloody tree branch lurks toward a screaming man's face

Cast: Jonathan Torrens, Sarah Dunsworth, Maris Morgan, Jayden Taylor, and Lex GigeroffDirector: Jason EisenerRuntime: 16 MinutesRating: Not RatedRotten Tomatoes

This entry is a bit of a cheat, but there are few things that can match the blood and insanity on display in Violent Night as much as Treevenge, a short film from visionary filmmaker Jason Eisener, the director behind Hobo with a Shotgun and Vice's hit series Dark Side of the Ring. Available for free via Eisener's YouTube page, Treevenge is exactly what it sounds like, as Christmas trees gain sentience and revolt against humankind, punishing them in shocking and unforgiving manners. An inspired concept that this writer is surprised hasn't been somehow adapted into a feature film, Treevenge makes a whole lot out of very little and proves just how capable Eisener can be in making neon-soaked modern exploitation films.

Yer Dead Productions / Via youtu.be