Sommerleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer
It’s Christmas time! While that statement may make it seem like I’m excited for the holidays, I’ve never been a huge fan (although my family celebrates it HARD) especially when it comes to the movies. Full of snow, sweet moments and sappiness, Christmas flicks tend to be light hearted and fun for the whole family. But even the most beloved films of the season have moments that make you wonder how exactly something THAT creepy made it into a family film!
With a big old Ho! Ho! Ho! here are the TOP 5 CREEPIEST MOMENTS FOUND IN CLASSIC CHRISTMAS MOVIES:
#5 Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this HAS TO BE the creepiest Christmas song out there! The lyrics sound like they were written by a stalker or a budding serial killer. And to top it all off, it’s the song that inspired this children’s Christmas classic of the same name.
Stop motion animation is one of my all-time favourite art forms but even I have to admit the earlier films that utilised it can come off as creepy. Enter the Winter Warlock in Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town. His first appearance is with a flash of lightning, followed by a close-up of a face I’m assuming only a mother could love. With his sharp fangs and his skinny fingers I’m sure younger viewers (I think I was 7 or 8 when I first saw this) would certainly be put off by this grumpy snow wizard and as a grown up…well, the dead-eyed stares of all of these characters who seem like they can gaze into your very soul is probably the reason I would never watch this again.
I also don’t recommend checking this out while baked out of your mind. Speaking on behalf of a friend.
#4 A Christmas Story
This entire movie has a weird tone to it. Told through the eyes of a nine-year old and narrated by his adult self, Ralphie is on a mission to get himself a BB Gun for Christmas and on this journey he faces possibly the weirdest season ever, with a tongue stuck to an icy pole (if you’ve ever had ice cubes stick to your fingers you know how painful this can be), a ginger-haired bully (and no Eric Cartman in sight to deal with him) and a leg lamp (no I’m not having a stroke, go see it for yourself).
In a movie that feels like something Stephen King may have wrote and discarded for being too weird the moment that creeped me out the most as a kid was the Mall Santa scene. Little kids either love or are completely terrified by mall Santas but this one (and his evil elves) definitely deserve to be feared. We see Ralphie’s point of view, the camera zooming uncomfortably close to Santa’s face. And when he’s ungraciously sent down the slide by Santa’s helper Ralphie tries to correct his mistake of asking for the wrong gift as he holds on to tell Santa he wants a (deep breath) “Red Ryder carbine-action, two hundred shot Range Model air rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time”. To which Santa says, “You’ll shoot your eye out” and with a distorted “Ho Ho Ho” and a boot to the face Ralphie gets kicked to the curb (or more precisely down the slide).
I’m not sure if the weirdness of A Christmas Story still holds up after all these years but the memory of that creepy Santa will stay with me all the days of my fudging life.
#3 Home Alone
Probably the most re-watched Christmas movie (next to Die Hard) and depending on what kind of kid you were growing up being Kevin McCallister, who gets left home alone when his parents forget him behind as they leave for vacation, may either have been a dream come true or a nightmare.
For this list let’s call it a nightmare, as the premise of a young child left alone only to have two grown violent criminals attempt to rob his house while he does everything in his power to maim them is the stuff horror movies are MADE of! While I totally enjoyed this movie as a youngster there was one particular moment that brought my laughter to a screeching halt. It’s the scene that comes right after Kevin lures Harry and Marv into chasing him into a neighbor’s home and they finally get a hold of him. For a split second it seems like Joe Pesci (Harry) forgot he was in a family film and goes into full Goodfellas mode. The camera gets in real close on his face and for a second there I’m convinced Kevin is about to die, painfully. The tone of the entire movie switches in that one scene and the levity only returns when Kevin’s neighbour Old Marley knocks them unconscious with his snow shovel.
It’s my personal creepiest moment in a movie where fans have created whole YouTube videos that legitimately argue Kevin McCallister is basically a young serial killer in the making to which I would say, “Yup! I totally agree!”
#2 A Christmas Carol (1984)
I’ve lost count on how many versions of this classic Christmas tale exists. Personally my favourite is the Bill Murray-led Scrooged followed by the Muppets doing their take but the one that holds the trophy for creepiest, hell, genuinely spine-tingling moments, goes to 1984’s A Christmas Carol.
George C. Scott is a wonder to behold as Scrooge and the story itself is expertly executed. But while the ending of this movie and the overall story is a redemptive one, the visuals would fit perfectly into any horror movie. And the depiction of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is the stuff of nightmares, but surprisingly he’s not the one that creeped me out the most. No, that honour goes to the Ghost of Christmas Present, in a scene that would probably give any children unlucky enough to see it nightmares for weeks, this Saint Nicholas-looking spectre is showing Scrooge the plight of the jobless and homeless people who live in his town and lifts his robes to reveal two malnourished children. It comes out of nowhere and with the music building to the reveal one can only assume the writer and director hated us and wanted to scar everyone who saw this movie for life!
It’s a great movie and a very solid adaptation but I wouldn’t recommend showing this version to your kids anytime soon.
#1 The Polar Express
I’m sure there are people out there who consider this movie a Christmas classic and who genuinely enjoy the story of a young boy finding his faith again. I’m not one of them.
Now considering The Polar Express is based on a children’s picture book, and director Robert Zemeckis was doing his utmost best to bring those exact images to life, and considering it’s 2004 CG motion capture technology, The Polar Express may be forgiven for not holding up as well as it could have. Then again I saw Appleseed in 2004. That movie also utilised motion capture but I didn’t want to run screaming for the hills while watching it.
Unlike the other films on my list that may have one or two creepy moments, 90 per cent of this film is nightmare fuel. Maybe it’s the uncanny valley effect that’s on full display, or maybe it’s the fact most of the characters are modelled after Tom Hanks (who was initially going to voice and act the parts of all the characters) or maybe it was when Hero Boy (don’t look at me, that’s what his name is listed as in the credits!) meets a dead-eyed Santa that looks like he’s there to eat your soul with a side of milk and cookies. The point being this is by and far the most unintentionally creepy Christmas movie out there. And don’t get me started on those freaky marionette puppets. Where’s a flamethrower when you need one!
For those who love it, more power to you. But I think I’ll stick to watching Black Christmas again this year. At least that was MEANT to scare the pants off you. When it comes to The Polar Express, this is one train ride I’ll happily miss.
So that’s my list. Are there any creepy moments from classic Christmas films you would add? And you can check out more great content below:
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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