Sommerleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer
He knows when you are sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake!
Is it just me, or is this Christmas song not the creepiest thing you’ve ever heard?! I’ve always found it disturbing, even as a kid. And as I got older and happily dived head first into horror films, specifically horror films in and around the Yuletide holidays, I would find myself humming it while watching Santa (or someone dressed as him) dish it out to them naughty folks.
You see parents love to tell their kids how fun Santa is. He’s a fat, jolly dude that brings you gifts for free. But what most of them will never mention is Old St. Nick has a dark side too. And these five Santas (Santi? Santesess?) are the darkest of them all.
With a SPOILER ALERT here are my TOP 5 SCARIEST SANTAS IN HORROR/THRILLER MOVIES:
#5 Silent Night, Deadly Night 1 & 2 — Billy and Ricky AKA Crazy Santas
It’s downright impossible to write a list like this one without mentioning the movie(s) that made parents lose their minds. As I’ve mention previously (see my Top 5 Holiday-themed Horror Movies, which I’ll link below) Billy is a kid who witnesses “Santa” being “very naughty” and killing his parents. So Billy grows up to be a man with some serious issues, especially when this jolly time of year rolls around. His turn as Santa Claus made horror history, but he’s not the only member of his family to don the red white and black suit (is Santa secretly a Trinidadian? Food for thought folks!). Yes, in Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2, Billy’s little brother Ricky (who is nowhere to be seen in the first movie because you just know they made him up to link the two stories) was apparently there when Billy was shot dead by the cops, and he too gets a rage-boner when the Christmas tunes start a playin’.
Two twisted Santas for the price of one? Who says Christmas wishes don’t come true!
#4 Rare Exports — Finnish Santa Claus
Unlike Billy and Ricky, who were just playing dress-up, Rare Exports boasts the real deal Santa here (movie-wise). And he’s been held captive and frozen in ice for decades to protect the children of the world.
You see this version from Finland turns the Santa mythos into a straight-up nightmare tale. He’s not jolly, he’s not nice, and his only interest in children is which parts of them taste best with barbeque sauce and a side of mash potatoes.
A Santa tale like no other, Rare Exports certainly knows how to deliver a version of Claus no one will ever forget.
#3 Santa’s Slay — Demonic Santa
Santa got swole! In this movie pro-wrestler Bill Goldberg plays a version of Santa like you’ve never seen before. That’s because this ain’t jolly St. Nick, but a demon who lost a bet to an angel and now has to play sweet Santa Claus for a 1,000 years. Before we go any further, can I just point out how awesome this premise is! Say what you will about the quality of this low-budget horror movie, the concept itself was one of the most original I’ve ever seen.
Anyways, when the time is up and Santa gets to shed his nice persona, he goes all out. And watching a beefed-up version of Santa hand out ass-whoppings left and right will never get old. (In my best Hulk Hogan voice impersonation) What you gonna do, when Santa Claus runs wild on you!
#2 Fatman — Kris Kringle
This movie only came out this year and it is already one of my favourite Christmas movies of all time. Not only that, it gave me a Santa Claus like no other! With Mel Gibson in the role of Kris Kringle, we get a Santa that is burned out and bummed out by all the naughty kids in the world. So much so, he drops a lump a coal under the tree for a bratty little bastard named Billy (apparently naming your kid Billy ensures you’ll have a monster on your hands). Instead of learning his lesson, Billy hires a hitman to take out Mr. Claus. And said hitman learns the hard way — you don’t mess with the man in red, unless you wanna end up dead!
Kris Kringle aka Santa Claus is still a nice guy here, but he’s not packing candy cane. Both Mr. and Mrs. Claus are beyond badass and Kris is a pitch-perfect version of what a modern-day Santa might be like. Just don’t call him Fatman. Trust me, it won’t end well for you.
Honourable Mention: Sint — Saint Nick
In this Dutch movie, they skip Santa and go straight to his secret identity (so to speak) Saint Nick, who is reimagined as a leader of a gang (and former bishop no less) who is killed by some villagers after he takes one too many milk and cookies without asking. Years later, as they celebrate the Sinterklass tradition, his spirit returns to seek vengeance. Riding a pale white horse and wielding a deadly version of a crosier (bishop’s staff) this is one St. Nick who left all his jollies at home.
#1 Tales from the Crypt — Deranged Santa
I’ve lost count of how many episodes of Tales from the Crypt I’ve seen, but there are those that are permanently stamped in my brain. And All Through the House is most definitely one of them! This one was actually first seen in the 1972 movie but it was so damn scary, they recycled the story in 1989 for the show.
This Santa (played with manic delight by Larry Drake from Darkman and Dr Giggles) stands out above the rest for a few reasons. First, it’s the way he looks. Dirty clothes, gnarly rotten teeth, and his dead-eyed stare? All present. This is the kind of Santa that would put adults (let alone kids) off Christmas forever!
A delightfully macabre tale, we see the story of a woman named Elizabeth who has just murdered her husband Joseph and is trying to dispose of the body when she’s attacked by an escaped maniac and mental patient dressed like Santa Claus. She tries to pin the murder on him by calling the police and locking herself and her daughter inside the house, but it’s Christmas time and Santa is at the door, so what else would a child do but open it for him? As Elizabeth stands their screaming this Santa ends the episode with a toothy smile and a chilling question “Naughty or nice?”
I freakin’ loved it! It’s by far the craziest, creepiest and scariest version of Claus I’ve ever seen. And if you missed out on this Tale from the Crypt, it was from Season 1, Episode 2 of the classic television show.
So the next time you hear the Christmas song “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” let’s thank our lucky stars the version we get is the one who brings presents and Coca-Cola (what? Everyone needs a side hustle), instead of any of these crazy, sometimes cool, but mostly deranged bastards.
Ho! Ho! Ho! You beautiful people and Happy Holidays!
It’s the Christmas season so we are gifting you with not one, not two, but THREE recommendations. For my aforementioned Top 5 Holiday-themed Horror Movies you can click here. For 5 Non-Traditional Christmas Movies, including my review of holiday home invasion horror Better Watch Out, you can click here. And for RMR Editor Julien’s review of Fatman you can click here.
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.
Double Tap Baby!