Deliciously Dark Christmas

Deliciously Dark Christmas features, Krampus, Batman Returns, The Poseidon Adventure, Die Hard, Gremlins, Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Edward Scissorhands, Scrooged and GO.

KRAMPUS (2015)

What happens if you let the director of the outstanding Trick R’ Treat loose on Christmas? The answer is the delightfully dark Krampus, a movie that laces European folklore with the horror-comedy of Gremlins and shocks of Poltergeist. Here the family home is invaded by a series of fantastical festive creatures ranging from spooky and sinister elves to killer gingerbread men as Christmas becomes a matter of life and death. But, aside from its devilishly brilliant horror, Krampus is also a delightful celebration of Christmas. The film’s central themes of faith, family conflict, and commercialism are astutely woven into the comic book horror, making Krampus one of the best Christmas horrors out there.


Batman Returns may well be one of the most underrated comic book films of the past 25 years. Batman Returns would see Tim Burton delve even deeper into the gothic fairytale horror of his 1989-created Gotham as he embraced a darker and more fairytale-like return. With Batman Returns, Burton would bring together the Bat, the Cat and the Penguin for a nightmare Christmas, allowing Keaton to build on his debut by placing him alongside Pfeiffer’s psychotic yet sensual Catwomen and DeVito’s damaged and dangerous Penguin.

Batman Returns dovetails Burton’s love of fairytales with heart-pounding action and the darkest humour in creating a Christmas comic book outing that has never been matched. Unfortunately, Batman Returns proved to be too dark for Warner Brothers and as a result, Keaton, Pfeiffer and Burton’s involvement in the franchise ended on the snowy streets of Gotham.


Ronald Neame’s New Year’s Day from hell didn’t just fire the starting gun on a whole host of disaster movies; it set the template. Neame’s titanic success turned Christmas and New Year upside down with a gigantic rogue wave. Based on the novel by Paul Gallico, The Poseidon Adventure sees a motley group of survivors journey deeper and deeper into a luxury cruise ship that has become a slowly sinking hell. From climbing giant Christmas trees to swimming through tunnels and navigating upside-down kitchens, The Poseidon Adventure is the ultimate disaster movie and a benchmark in groundbreaking physical special effects.

Deliciously Dark Christmas

DIE HARD (1988)

Die Hard was released during the summer of 1988, a world away from the Christmas season it represented. However, since then, Die Hard has rightly earnt its place as an essential Christmas movie, its testosterone-fuelled story and twinkling lights a perfect, never equalled slice of 80s festive action. Die Hard is sweat-drenched muscles, blood-soaked string vests and Shakespearian terrorists in all their 80s overblown glory. Bruce Willis is nothing more than an overgrown boy scout thrown into a world of counter-terror as Beethoven’s Ode to Joy rings out through a haze of gunfire and explosions. But make no mistake, the late, great Alan Rickman steals the show as the festive lights and coke-sniffing capitalism of the Nakatomi Plaza building are engulfed in a wave of terror. 


Gremlins had its worldwide premiere during the height of summer in 1984, but that didn’t stop Joe Dante’s movie from becoming the best and most influential Christmas monster horror ever made. Here Dante would explore the dangers of buying cuddly creatures for your kids at Christmas as Billy’s new and loving pet, ‘Gizmo,’ gives birth to anarchy and destruction, and the Christmas holiday turns from Joy to the World to Danse Macabre

Dante’s picture is many things, including a sharp conversation on the growing 1980s taste for consumerism and a cutting exploration of US colonialism and racism. However, Gremlins recognises that family monster horror must be bathed in deliciously dark humour, and Gremlins offers that in spades. Its ridiculous yet ingenious plot thrives on comic-book anarchy and campfire-inspired horror stories as a group of deadly yet lovable hooligans sing along to Disney’s Snow White and the Seven DwarfsGremlins is Dante’s love letter to 50s monster horror, with splashes of Spielberg added for good measure.


Do you believe in the Coca-Cola-inspired fat Father Christmas covered in red and white or the far more scary Santa Claus of European folklore? In Rare Exports, it’s the latter that takes centre stage in a festive fantasy horror unlike anything else. Written and Directed by Jalmari Helander, Rare Exports dovetails the legend of Santa Claus with elements of John Carpenter’s The Thing. The result is a stunning mix of folklore horror, dark comedy, fantasy and science fiction that couldn’t be more different to the bright lights and smiles of Santa Claus the Movie. Helander’s narrative ensures that you will never look at the man who comes down your chimney in the same way again through a genuinely audacious, creative and stunning festive fantasy gem.

Deliciously Dark Christmas Movies


Every year without question, Santa Claus stalks our houses, breaking in and stealing food while spying on our kids. However, somehow this behaviour is okay because he leaves us presents. It is somewhat astonishing that it took until 1974 for someone to link the inherent serial killer vibes at play during Christmas with the horror genre. But Bob Clark’s groundbreaking Black Christmas did precisely that as it finally embraced the dark side of the festivities with a genre-defining film that gave birth to a whole sub-genre of horror – the teen slasher. Black Christmas would go on to inspire John Carpenter’s Halloween, yet it’s Carpenter’s film that often receives the credit for defining the slasher horror. But trust me, Bob Clark’s film is where it all began, his killer held in the shadows while the handheld point-of-view camera elevates the tension. This is where the teen slasher truly began.

Deliciously Dark Christmas


Leaving your child ‘home alone’ once could possibly be forgiven, but leaving them alone for a second time at a major international airport and allowing them to travel independently to New York is clearly unforgivable. Following Home Alone with. a sequel was never going to be easy, and let’s face it, the second outing was about maximising profit rather than telling a new story. However, as sequels go many would argue Home Alone 2 – Lost in New York (1992) built upon the success of Home Alone and offered us a more rounded film as a result.

However, in truth, Home Alone 2 worked by fully embracing the darker edges of the original story. Home Alone 2 places a pre-pubescent child into an adult cityscape where he quickly learns that money buys safety in the 90s-owned Trump-Plaza Hotel. Meanwhile, the slapstick humour of the first film is turned up to the maximum, with the traps becoming sadistic in the hands of a new city-dwelling Kevin. In fact, young Kevin, at times, seems intent on actually killing the hapless burglars, but I guess that’s what a few days in the big smoke does to a child. It may be full of Christmas cheer, but Home Alone 2 – Lost in New York has a far more sinister edge as a city of extremes eats away at the innocence of a young boy’s mind. 


Imagine trying to eat your Christmas turkey with two giant scissors for your hands – the frustration alone would surely ruin your Christmas dinner and cause significant discomfort to those around you. Alas, this is just one of the problems facing young Edward in Tim Burton’s gloriously dark and emotional fairytale. Tim Burton’s movie is a beautiful slice of gothic fantasy that pays homage to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio as we are taken on a journey into loneliness, discrimination and forbidden love. Edward Scissorhands was released during the summer of 1991, but it inhabits a world of Christmas-like wonder, discovery and magic.

Deliciously Dark Christmas


Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol gave birth to the Christmas story and movies we have all come to love. But in Richard Donner’s Scrooged, Dickens’ classic was to find a new and distinctly 80s voice as Donner unpicked the capitalist utopia of 1980s New York. Donner’s film would take aim at the growing commercialisation of TV and film while dissecting the influence of big business on our festive celebrations in a manner Dickens himself would have been proud to endorse. Donner’s razor-sharp comedy takes a scalpel to the greed and selfishness of late 1980s society, with its message sadly even more relevant today.

GO (1999)

Doug Liman’s 1999 Go appears to have vanished into the mists of time since its initial release. Yet Go encapsulates the imagination, excitement and energy of late 90s filmmaking for Generation X. Liman’s high-energy rollercoaster throws together a group of young people on the countdown to Christmas through a series of interconnected events and meetings, creating a festive journey tangled in a web of drugs, booze, sex and crime. Go is a high-octane exploration of 90s youth culture as the millennium dawns, with the soul of Tarantino’s early work and the banging score of movies like Human Traffic. It is a Christmas movie like no other.





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