Christmas is bright and happy, right? That’s what everyone says but there’s a darkness lurking beneath the joy of the season. From “no room at the inn”, to obese strangers breaking into the house, there’s all sorts of disturbing angles to beloved Christmas stories. And the holiday is celebrated at literally a dark time with the longest night of the year only a few days before Christmas Eve.
Kids are particularly susceptible to the charms of Christmas but also to its terrors. How many children have been traumatized by unsettling elements in the holiday entertainment they’ve been subjected to? Plus, there’s even been a rise in movies for adults that play on Christmas’ ominous undercurrents. Let us show you what we’re talking about through our look at horrifying Christmas movie GIFs that will fill your children’s heads with visions of sugarplums and terror.
A Christmas Carol
Here’s solid proof of what we’re talking about. One of the best-loved Christmas tales of all time is a freaking ghost story. Thanks to being in the public domain there’s a billion or so movie versions, each of them with scenes guaranteed to put a kid into therapy for life. Usually, it’s Scrooge encountering the Ghost of Christmas Future that’ll put a kid off sleeping in bed for a few months. And then wetting yours for a few months more.
Don’t think that the Muppet version is any safer:
Jim Carrey’s The Grinch
The live-action version of the classic cartoon The Grinch isn’t just nightmare fuel for children but for any age group. Jim Carrey’s grotesque Grinch makeup and psychopathic performance will ruin Noel for you forever. If you walk into the living room to find your little Bobby and Susie holding a match to the Christmas tree and crying that they must destroy it all, it’s because you let them watch this film.
The obviously chilling sequence in The Polar Express is when the young hero meets a hobo ghost on the top of the train that tries to murders him. But, like the aforementioned The Grinch, here’s another movie that’ll screw up all sane viewers even when it’s not featuring murderous hobos. Its creepy motion capture CGI is good enough to make the characters look human but bad enough that it makes them look like barely reanimated corpses.
The dark Christmas comedy-horror Gremlins is supposed to have thrills and chills. Now considered a modern classic, many forget that when it came out in the ‘80s it was marketed as a child-friendly adventure fantasy from Executive Producer Steven Spielberg. The resulting backlash from parents who had to drag hysterical children from the cinema created the PG-13 rating. If your daughter tries to microwave the cute, fluffy hamster you got her for Christmas, it’s because she caught this on cable and knows that furry pet will turn into a scaly murder monster because it ate after midnight.
Casper’s Haunted Christmas
Regardless of the Christmas setting, any child who thinks about the concept of Casper the Friendly Ghost for a solid minute or two will realize they’re watching a movie about a dead little boy…. a child that was once just like them. Do you want to spend Christmas Eve explaining to your nephew that he’s not going to die tonight and be condemned to haunt every December 25th for eternity? No? Good, don’t put this movie on in the other room to occupy the kids while you’re trying to get hammered on nog.
Silent Night, Deadly Night
Now to close off with two entries deliberately made to terrify and associate Christmas with horror. The ‘80s cult film Silent Night, Deadly Night follows the murder spree of a psycho in a Santa suit and is the inspiration for dozens of Santa Claus slasher flicks. Incredibly controversial when it came out it was picketed, denounced by every critic, and bombed at the box office. It’s a lot of fun, but probably not for children. One viewing by a child could turn this classic fear of visiting Santa:
Into a crime scene as the toddler attacks Old Saint Nick out of self-preservation.
Did you know there’s a millennia-old tradition of scaring-the-stuffing out of kids at Christmas? In parts of Europe, Santa has an evil demon counterpart named Krampus, who parents say will kidnap any bad kids at Christmas. This charming legend is the inspiration for a new Christmas horror movie. Actually, show this movie to your kids, this is a custom we need to bring to every country! Let’s have every child around the world scared that if they misbehave that a devil will steal them at Christmas—that’ll make for a holiday worth celebrating.