Dec 11, 2015

13 Holiday Movies That Are Good All Year

Article By: Tyler Doupe

Holiday horror films are not just for the holidays. It’s easy to get in the habit of pulling your favorite holiday-themed titles off the shelf to watch at the corresponding time of year but there are many holiday horror films that transcend the gimmick of being set on a specific day or during a particular time period. In fact, some of the best horror films of all time occur on or around a holiday but are still worthy of your time regardless of what month your calendar displays.   

Read on for 13 holiday-themed horror films that transcend the holiday around which they take place and make for great viewing all year!

1. Halloween

The quintessential holiday horror classic, Halloween stands on a pedestal and rightfully so. It is not just the ultimate holiday slasher; it is the ultimate slasher. It is the standard by which every stalk and slash film to come after it has been compared. Halloween is great for pulling out to watch during the month of October but don’t limit yourself to watching it during the Halloween season. It is a tasty treat that can be enjoyed any time. 


2. Trick ‘r Treat

Next to Halloween, Trick ‘r Treat is easily the best Halloween-themed horror film of all time. It revitalized the anthology format and ingeniously wove its stories together via a non-linear narrative. While it is set during the Halloween season, Trick ‘r Treat is not the type of film that relies so heavily on its setting that it isn’t enjoyable during the other 364 days of the year.


3. Black Christmas

Without Black Christmas, there may never have been a Halloween. Black Christmas is the original holiday slasher and one of the first horror films to let the audience see things from the killer’s POV. Like the other entries on this list, Black Christmas is a film that goes on heavy rotation when it’s in season but next time you are in the mood for a slasher picture, consider this instead of re-watching a non-seasonal favorite for the 200th time. 


4. Silent Night, Deadly Night

Though Silent Night, Deadly Night is tied closely to the holiday season, it is nonetheless a campy good time whenever you pop it into your Blu-ray player. You can put it on and have Christmas in February or April or July! This camp classic takes the viewer along for the ride as Billy slays the naughty in his quest to punish the amoral. 


5. Silent Night

Steven C. Miller’s loose remake of Silent Night Deadly Night works as a fitting companion piece to the original film as well as a great standalone effort. Miller is one of the most promising young directors working on the genre film scene today and this is yet another example of precisely why. Silent Night is less schlocky than the original and relies much less on its status as a holiday horror picture and more on a clever script and keen direction from Miller. If you’ve seen it before, don’t wait until December to watch this one again. And if you haven’t had the pleasure, you don’t need to wait until Christmastime to check it out!


6. Christmas Evil

Christmas Evil is great, psychotic, violent fun! It may be slow burn but getting there is half the fun. Brandon Maggart is so good as Harry. He committed to the role to the point where I could not imagine anyone else playing his part. So, while it is very much a Christmas movie, Maggart’s performance is good enough that the film even warrants consideration beyond the month of December! If you have avoided this flick because you’ve heard it’s slow, give it a chance and I suspect you will enjoy it regardless of the time of year! And if you are already a fan, don’t feel obligated to wait until the holidays to watch it again!


7. Friday the 13th

Is Friday the 13th a holiday? It is if you are a horror fan. I don’t know if it’s common practice to wait for the occurrence of a Friday the 13th to turn to this timeless slasher classic but at the same time, I feel like I would be totally remiss if I didn’t include it on this list. So, if for some reason, you feel the need to time your viewing of Friday the 13th to coincide with the holiday, rest assured that it is just as much fun to watch any other day of the year. 


8. My Bloody Valentine

My Bloody Valentine is a great flick to revisit on Valentine’s but that’s not to say that it isn’t just as relevant or every bit as enjoyable the rest of the year. With its epic kills and incredibly likable cast, this slasher gem is perfectly enjoyable at any point in time. But if you ever find that you are not up for another round of My Bloody Valentine on February 14th, consider giving Valentine (2001) a chance. In spite of its terrible reputation, it is a fairly enjoyable, contemporary, giallo-esque slasher with some noteworthy kill scenes. 


9. April Fool’s Day

I am a dyed-in-the-wool April Fool’s Day fan. I cannot praise this picture highly enough. It boasts great performances from likable leads, plentiful twists and turns leading up to a brilliant ending, and keen direction from Fred Walton—who also helmed When a Stranger Calls. April Fool’s Day easily transcends its setting and it a brilliant choice any time you are in the mood for a fun slasher picture that doesn’t take itself too seriously.


10. Leprechaun

“Try as they will, and try as they might, who steals me gold won't live through the night.” While it’s sometimes fun to revisit Leprechaun on St. Patrick’s Day, this is a film that has less to do with any particular holiday and much more to do with a psychopathic killer that will go to great lengths to protect his gold—and also happens to be a leprechaun. It also marks one of Jennifer Aniston’s earliest and most cringeworthy film roles. While the sequels that followed got progressively worse, the first installment in the series is good for a bit of mindless entertainment at any time. 


11. Bloody New Year

This is a love it or hate it kind of film and I love it. I love it. I love Norman J Warren’s bizarre directorial style and tendency to embrace the surreal. And I love the unusual soundtrack and so bad they’re good performances. Though this picture takes place in the summer and isn’t technically set on New Years, the characters do fall into a time warp where every day is New Year’s Eve. Since Bloody New Year is not explicitly focused on the actual New Years holiday, it makes for a lot of fun to watch at any time and should by no means sit on the shelf for the rest of the year.


12. Mother's Day

Mother’s Day is another holiday-themed horror film that doesn’t actually take place on Mother’s Day but it takes place in a household where every day is like Mother’s Day. This early offering from Team Troma is near and dear to my heart. It is brutal and has a perfectly epic revenge sequence in the third act. I have personally gotten into the habit of popping in the Blu-ray disc on Mother’s Day but it’s just as fun to turn on this revenge-fueled exploitation flick any other day of the year and I encourage you to do just that!


13. Father's Day

Here is another Troma offering that is not explicitly set on the titular holiday. Father’s Day is a collaborative effort between Troma and the filmmaking collective Astron 6. It is an exceptional example of ne-grindhouse cinema and a fun flick to turn on during Father’s Day. But works every bit as well on any other day of the year. 

Tyler Doupe is a film critic and journalist. He is the managing editor at Wicked Horror and an occasional contributor to Fangoria and Rue Morgue.

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