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Ranking the Best Holiday Horror Monsters

Not everything about the holiday season is merry and bright. Jack Skellington and Sally hold hands in front of the moon.

Christmas Nightmares that will Haunt the Festive Holiday Season

The holiday season is nicknamed the “best time of the year,” and for good reason. It’s a time when families are reconnected, evenings are spent sipping hot cocoa in front of a warm fire, presents sit beneath a festive Christmas tree, and the new year is right around the corner, waiting to be ushered in with New Year’s Eve celebrations. However, the Christmas horror movie subgenre paints the holiday season in a different light, one that is bloody, scary, and downright festively evil. These top eight Christmas monsters will make everyone triple-check where their name sits on the naughty or nice list this year. Beware, there are spoilers ahead! 

8. The Grinch in How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) 

Not everything about the holiday season is merry and bright. The Grinch leans down to talk with Cindy Lou.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas was an instant holiday hit and not just because of Jim Carrey’s wildly entertaining performance as the Grinch himself. The film is whimsical and festive as the plot follows the Grinch, who feels judged and unwelcomed by the townspeople simply because he looks different. Because of this, the Grinch is cynical toward Christmas and plots a way to ruin the holiday for all of the Whos in Whoville. That is, of course, until he makes an unlikely friendship with a Who named Cindy Lou, and the Grinch is forced to rethink his revenge plot. 

The Grinch is eighth on the list, but don’t underestimate his crimes because of his ranking. It is downright evil to steal presents from people’s homes on Christmas Eve, and he deserves his place as a Christmas monster because of that crime alone. However, because of his redemption arc, a little grace can be shared (it is the holiday season, of course) by placing him at the number eight spot. 

7. Jack Skellington in The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Not everything about the holiday season is merry and bright. Jack Skellington studies a snowflake.

The Nightmare Before Christmas was yet another holiday hit. It merges two holidays that could not be more different, Halloween and Christmas, into an off-beat and creative film that slotted itself as a cult classic. The main character, Jack Skellington, lives in Halloweentown as the infamous pumpkin king but is bored of scaring people. However, when Jack Skellington discovers Christmastown, he decides he wants to bring joy instead of fright and seeks to integrate festive elements of Christmas into Halloweentown. 

This may seem like a noble goal, and to be fair, Jack Skellington’s motives behind his actions are pure (at first, that is); however, his execution is off. He even goes so far as to kidnap the real Santa in order to replace him, and the presents he delivers terrify the people in the real world. While his intentions were to try spreading joy and cheer, he rediscovers the happiness he gets out of scaring people and, therefore, his love for Halloween.

6. Gremlins in Gremlins (1984)

Not everything about the holiday season is merry and bright. Stripe from "Gremlins" wreaks havoc.

Gremlins is a fantastic blend of genres from horror to comedy and finally to Christmas that brands itself as a cult classic. When a father goes to a mysterious shop in Chinatown to buy a Christmas present for his son, he ends up with a small, cute, furry creature that will stay that way as long as three simple rules are followed. Of course, those rules are broken, and chaos ensues as a mass of gremlins terrorize and even murder the townspeople. 

It’s no mystery these tiny terrors deserve to be on this list, as they are an evil bunch. What makes them so lethal, however, are their numbers. It would be one thing to deal with one Gremlin, but to have to survive a whole hoard of creepy creatures? Now, that’s a whole other story that, unfortunately, many people in the movie experience, especially when the mass of Gremlins is headed by a particularly sadistic and smart Gremlin named Stripe, who uses his wits to coordinate lethal attacks. 

5. Pooka in Pooka! (2018)

Not everything about the holiday season is merry and bright. "Pooka!" stares into camera.

Speaking of creepy creatures, the episode of Hulu’s Into the Dark, a twelve-episode series on holiday horror, is titled Pooka! revolves around a toy whose voice changes when he repeats something in a “naughty” or “nice” voice that has a spooky effect on the small-time actor Wilson Clowes. When Wilson is offered a high-paying gig to dress up as the newest hot toy, Pooka, he doesn’t turn it down. 

However, Clowes soon discovers that when Pooka’s naughty side is triggered while in the costume, he performs heinous acts and crimes.

On top of that, Clowes suffers from intense hallucinations as the Pooka costume continues to mess with his mind. It’s a mind-bending thriller/horror film that will keep viewers on the edge of their seats as they watch the havoc Pooka ensues upon Wilson and those he loves the most. Pooka has earned its spot in the list of holiday horror monsters. 

4. Oogie Boogie in The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Not everything about the holiday season is merry and bright. "The Nightmare Before Christmas's" Oogie Boogie stares into camera.

Oogie Boogie was the real monster in The Nightmare Before Christmas. Even Jack Skellington was obvious about his disdain for the haunting creature, claiming Oogie Boogie’s intentions are far from the core values of Halloweentown. Jack makes it clear that while the inhabitants of Halloweentown’s goal and purpose is to scare people in the “real world,” however, it is with the intention that the frights will insinuate community. Sure, it’s twisted reasoning, and yet, that’s what makes Jack Skellington’s character so complex because his intentions are pure at its core.

On the other hand, Oogie Boogie is just plain evil. He takes delight in other people’s sufferings and inflicts pain whenever he can, simply for pure amusement. He hurts people because he can. Not to mention, he looks just as terrifying as he is, and his wheel of misfortune doesn’t help his case either. Needless to say, Oogie Boogie has earned his spot on the naughty list. 

3. Krampus in Krampus (2015)

Not everything about the holiday season is merry and bright. The Krampus lurks in the night.

The Christmas horror film Krampus is based on a legend about a demon who haunts and punishes those who have lost their festive spirit. The horror classic centers around a young boy named Max who is celebrating the holidays with his extremely dysfunctional family. Out of frustration, Max loses his festive spirit, and Krampus comes to wreak havoc upon Max and his family, even going so far as to murder a few of the characters. 

Krampus is a scary Christmas demon that will surely leave anyone shaking in their boots if they have the unfortunate luck to have a run-in with the frightening creature. However, it’s the concept behind Krampus that is truly terrifying. While Christmas time is a special time of the year, it does come with its fair share of misgivings. It’s easy to let all the stresses of the holiday season get to us and even easier to lose the festive spirit. This means the chances of having a run-in with the demonic creature are high, putting Krampus right in the top three.  

2. The Gingerbread Man, in The Gingerbread Man (2005)

Not everything about the holiday season is merry and bright. "The Gingerbread Man" leers at character off camera.

The Gingerbread Man is exactly what it sounds like; a giant gingerbread man who goes around killing people for revenge. Murderer Millard Findlemeyer is executed in the electric chair. Afterward, he is cremated, but through a twisted turn of events, his ashes are mixed in with a batch of gingerbread cookie dough, and after a bit of black magic, Findlemeyer finds himself cacked in ginger, spice, and nothing nice. 

Seeing such an iconic symbol of Christmas transformed into a murderous nightmare is chilling to the core. When most people think of Christmas, they think of gingerbread contests and gingerbread cookies. It’s a Christmas tradition that has lasted for years and is a great way for families to enjoy the holiday season with one another. However, The Gingerbread Man film portrays a giant, evil gingerbread man who seeks only to extract pain and dismay upon those around him, making him a truly terrifying holiday monster. 

1. Jack Frost in Jack Frost (1997)

Not everything about the holiday season is merry and bright. Jack Frost bares his teeth to another a victim.

Jack Frost is a black comedy slasher film that isn’t necessarily the best movie ever made, but Jack Frost, as a giant murdering snowman, definitely deserves to be on this list. A kin to The Gingerbread Man, Jack Frost is a film about evil being reincarnated into a Christmas icon. On his way to his state execution, Jack Frost’s transportation vehicle collides with a truck full of mysterious chemicals that somehow fuse the serial killer with snow, turning him into a killer snowman who uses icicles as murder weapons.

It’s frightening seeing an innocent symbol of Christmas converted into a ruthless killing machine. Snowmen are usually depicted as a fun and wholesome way for families to enjoy snowy afternoons outside, and yet Jack Frost twists that symbolism into something sinister. Jack Frost is a holiday monster that puts a sour taste to the Christmas spirit. 

Jack Frost (1997) Official Frost Bite Films, Moonstone Entertainment, Storyteller Films Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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I am an aspiring author living and working out of Honolulu, Hawaii. I received my bachelor's degree in Art History at Westmont College and then pursued a master's in Museum Studies at the University of Hawaii. I am currently working on a few novels, and am thankful for the opportunity to expand my creative writing voice at Dead Talk Live.
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Elke Simmons' writing portfolio includes contributions to The Laredo Morning Times, Walt Disney World Eyes and Ears, Extinction Rebellion (XR) News/Blog, and Dead Talk News.