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Santa Claus Is Coming To Kill: Cinema’s 7 Scariest St. Nicks

Arriving in theatres today, Krampus is a frightful reminder that the holidays are not all about warm-hearted cheer. There’s also a proud tradition of holiday movies that feature an evil spin on the character some see as Krampus’ opposite: Santa Claus. In horror movies, the only present you get from Jolly Old Nick is the gift of gore. In fairness to the real Santa, these barbaric acts are usually committed by imposters in Santa suits, but the shock of an innocent icon gone wrong is still there, making for essential—or at least amusing—holiday viewing.

Tales from the Crypt

The first segment of the 1972 Amicus anthology, “…And All Through the House” was memorably remade by director Robert Zemeckis as the second episode of the Tales from the Crypt TV series. In both incarnations, an unhappily married woman kills her husband, only to find herself attacked by a deranged killer—in a Santa costume.

What’s Santa’s problem? He’s crazy.

To All a Goodnight

Directed by cult actor David Hess (1972’s The Last House on the Left), this obscure slasher film features a familiar premise: young couples are hacked up at a party. The semi-fresh twist? A maniac in a Santa suit is doing the killing.

What’s Santa’s problem? He’s angry about an initiation gone wrong.

Christmas Evil

After receiving some bad news about Santa, Harry Stadling (played by Brandon Maggart, father of musical great Fiona Apple) decides to become the iconic character—with a bloody twist.

What’s Santa’s problem? He learns that Santa isn’t real.

Silent Night, Deadly Night

Along with its bizarre sequels, Silent Night, Deadly Night is a must-see for anyone with gruesome taste in holiday viewing. Decades after seeing most of his family murdered by a criminal in a Santa costume, Billy Chapman finds himself on the other end of a vicious Santa incident.

What’s Santa’s problem? There’s more than one Santa, but Billy’s main frustration is the grouchy nun who tormented him throughout his orphan childhood.

Santa Claws

Written and directed by John A. Russo (co-writer and co-editor of the original Night of the Living Dead), this micro-budget dud revolves around a horror actress’ most obsessive fan. Justifying the film’s ludicrous title, he brutally kills this woman’s co-stars (a) with a claw and (b) while dressed as Santa.

What’s Santa’s problem? He wants more attention from his favourite scream queen.

Santa’s Slay

Produced by Brett Ratner and directed by his former assistant, this anti-Christmas oddity features seasoned wrestler Goldberg as a very real Santa Claus, who also happens to be a deranged killer. In the opening sequence alone, he murders a whole family—before taking off on a sleigh led by “hell-deer.”

What’s Santa’s problem? He’s the son of Satan.

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

Often overlooked, this acclaimed Finnish film from 2010 tells the story of a sacred grave occupied by an evil Santa and the elves who do his dirty work. It turns out the children of Finland have been naughty—and they have bigger things to worry about than getting cool gifts.

What’s Santa’s problem? He has naughtiness to avenge.