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12 Brutal Movies Like Violent Night That You Should Watch

A dark new twisted Christmas movie has arrived this season in the form of "Violent Night," starring David Harbour as a different kind of Santa Claus. Instead of jolly ol' Saint Nick, the "Stranger Things" alum steps into the big red suit to become the newest killer on the block, in a film with a diabolical sense of humor and plenty of blood-spewing violence.

It's the night before Christmas in "Violent Night" when we meet the Lightstone family, whose daughter Trudy is excited for Christmas morning. After Trudy is all nestled snug in her bed, however, a band of highly trained criminal mercenaries break in, led by an assassin appropriately named Scrooge (John Leguizamo), seeking the contents of her parents' secret vault. But the yuletides are about to turn for the mercs when Santa Claus himself arrives with a bag of presents in one hand and a bludgeoning hammer in the other. Now it's up to Kris Kringle to stop them, and he's ready to tear open flesh and flatten the thieves' brains.

A brutal revenge thriller with wall-to-wall violence and a healthy dose of dark humor, "Violent Night" is an over-the-top action movie with a premise so ridiculous you can't help but love it. But with 12 days of Christmas, it may not quiet your hunger for seasonal savagery. So fill up your big red sack and mount up your sleigh, because we've found 12 brutal movies like "Violent Night" to watch this holiday season.

Jack Frost

Christmas killers come in all shapes and sizes, and in 1997 a straight-to-DVD slasher called "Jack Frost" (not to be confused with the 1998 family film of the same name) became an unexpected cult classic with its story of a savage snowman. Like "Violent Night," the film has its tongue firmly planted in its cheek, but this one gets far more comical, embracing its B-movie status with blood and gore that's meant to induce more snickers than scares. 

The story starts with a convicted serial killer, coincidentally named Jack Frost (Scott McDonald), who's being transported to his execution. His prisoner transfer takes him through the remote town of Snowmonton, where Sheriff Tiler (Christopher Allport) is the man who stopped Frost's deadly rampage after he'd racked up nearly 40 victims. But when Frost attempts to escape, the vehicle he's in crashes into a truck housing experimental genetic research equipment, and in the ensuing wreck he's doused with dangerous chemicals that turn him into a living snowman. With a new and seemingly unstoppable form, Jack is back on the loose and killing again, looking for revenge on Sheriff Tiler. 

Though "Jack Frost" doesn't boast any big names like David Harbour or John Leguizamo, it does feature the screen debut of briefly blazing star Shannon Elizabeth. Despite its obvious low budget, there's something eminently watchable about "Jack Frost," with a delightfully off-the-wall premise mixed with oodles of silly, casual violence. An instant favorite of horror fans, it received a sequel three years later.

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

Christmas is a holiday that's inspired countless legends, myths, and fables, along with more than one fairy tale. The Brothers Grimm, who delighted readers with a series of written folk tales, popularized "Hansel and Gretel," a German holiday story about a young brother and sister who are lured to a gingerbread house by a nasty witch who hopes to feed on them. In 2013, the story was reimagined for the big screen as a superhero-style adventure. The result was "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters," a film that turns the fairy tale into a blockbuster action movie.

The film stars "Avengers" alum Jeremy Renner and Bond girl Gemma Arterton as Hansel and Gretel, who survive their ordeal as children and grow up to become a pair of witch-killing soldiers of fortune. In the film they are hired by the mayor of Augsburg to find and kill the witch who they believe has abducted a number of the town's children. But what they discover on their mission is a dark coven who are preparing a ritual that will make them more powerful than ever before. Their leader Muriel (Famke Janssen) also holds a dark secret that reveals the truth about Hansel and Gretel's untold origin.

While critics lambasted the film as action schlock, let's face it: these kinds of movies aren't meant for critics. They're meant for lovers of gloriously over-the-top action and ridiculously violent Christmas chaos. At that, "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters" more than succeeds.


Santa Claus certainly isn't the only figure associated with Christmas around the world, nor are Hansel and Gretel the only figures in German holiday folklore. Enter Krampus, a strange monster who is said to frighten misbehaving children around the holiday season. With mighty horns, cloven hooves, and a snake-like tongue, he makes the perfect creature for a horror story, and that's exactly what we got in the 2015 film "Krampus."

From the mind of "Trick 'r Treat" director Michael Dougherty and inspired by the ancient folk tale, "Krampus" stars Adam Scott and Toni Collette as parents to Max (Emjay Anthong). He's not the only child in the family, but he's the one whose loss of Christmas cheer leads to the resurrection of the demonic creature known as Krampus. Unleashed upon an unsuspecting community, the ravenous, horned demon lays waste to all around him. He employs everything from man-eating gingerbread men to deadly jack-in-the-boxes to off his victims, while using magical powers to bring toys to life and do his lethal bidding.

A bone-crunching horror thriller, "Krampus" soars when it revels in its perverse take on a classic Christmas myth. Throw in some creative kills, a few fresh twists, and a jaw-dropping ending and it's a nasty, often darkly funny surprise in your Christmas stocking. While some horror critics felt it was neither as scary or funny as they may have wanted, that just makes it all the better for a Christmas day watch party. 


In "Fatman," Billy Wenan (Chance Hurstfield) wants revenge on the man who wronged him, and turns to a ruthless hitman named Miller (Walton Goggins) to hunt down and slaughter a reclusive, beleaguered shopkeeper (Mel Gibson). But both Billy and his henchman have underestimated their target, who is ready to defend his home with an unrivaled ferocity. It's a knockdown, drag 'em-out battle to the death between a hired assassin and a grizzled veteran with nothing to lose.

The twist, of course, is that Billy is a spoiled rich little boy who receives a lump of coal for Christmas, and the man he wants revenge on is none other than Santa Claus himself. Reimagining the legend of Kris Kringle, "Fatman" makes Santa Claus a downtrodden toymaker living in the Northwest and under contract by the U.S. military, which funds his operation. But when the deadly mercenary Miller comes gunning for him, the snowy town of North Peak, Alaska becomes a war zone, and Santa proves that he's just as good with a gun as he is with reindeer and sleigh.

A raucous, action-packed epic, "Fatman" breathes new life into the Christmas movie genre. Punctuated by fiery shootouts and bare-knuckle brawls, "Fatman" is hilarious fun because it takes its story seriously, presenting St. Nick as a gun-toting madman. Gibson is pitch-perfect as a disillusioned Santa, and Goggins is, as always, delightfully sinister as a stone cold killer on a mission.

The Gingerdead Man

Full Moon Entertainment is responsible for some of the craziest B-movie horror flicks of the past 30 years, with their most notable being the 1989 slasher "Puppet Master," a movie that spawned a long-running series of sequels. But that's certainly not the only gleefully gory film in their repertoire. There's also the 2005 horror comedy "The Gingerdead Man," which steals some ideas from "Jack Frost" as it tells the story of a psychotic murderer who is sentenced to death, but continues killing after his soul inhabits a gingerbread cookie. Yes, you read that correctly.

His name is Millar Findlemeyer (Gary Busey), a Texas serial killer who murders two members of the Leigh family before being caught, convicted, and executed for his crimes. But when a witch steals his ashes and mixes them into a gingerbread cookie mix, his soul is trapped within. The bakery owned by survivors Sarah (Robin Sydney) and Betty Leigh (Margaret Blye) unwittingly brings Findlemeyer back to life as a gingerbread cookie, who sets out to finish what he started on a quest to kill the two women.

Much like "Jack Frost," this 2005 film is a ton of undeniably good, gory and gloriously silly fun that makes no sense. As a Full Moon production, it of course yielded a series of sequels after finding some success, including a crossover with another title in their catalog, 2013's "Gingerdead Man vs. Evil Bong."

Red Snow

You won't find any skewed version of Santa Claus in "Red Snow," nor even a murderous snowman, killer gingerbread man, or witch-hunting fairy tale heroes. But while it might not twist any Christmas folklore into a brutal adventure, it does tell a Christmas story that gets vicious and bloody fast. Instead of deadly elves or reindeer, "Red Snow" is a vampire movie, centering on a horror novelist who comes face to face with the creatures she's often written about during a Christmas retreat to Lake Tahoe.

Meet Olivia Romo (Dennice Cisnero), a writer whose best work revolves around vampires. She takes a sojourn to Lake Tahoe for a stay in her late mother's old cabin over the Christmas holiday. But when she brings an injured bat in from the cold, it transforms into the charming vampire Luke. Nursing him back to health with animal blood from a nearby butcher, the two form an unlikely bond that's threatened with the arrival of Julius King (Vernon Wells), a steely-eyed vampire hunter. When Luke's two unliving allies, Jackie and Brock, arrive, Olivia must confront the dark truth of Luke's origins.

Part black comedy, part horror movie, and with a dash of romance, "Red Snow" weaves together a tender love story with a "Die Hard"-like twist as Olivia faces off against a trio of vampires while alone in a cabin in the woods. A morbid holiday tale with uncompromising brutality, "Red Snow" is both fresh and inventive. 


Brutal, sadistic thrillers like "Violent Night" aren't just limited to American shores, as the 2010 Dutch film "Sint" can attest. If you're wondering what it's about, it might help if we tell you that in the U.S. it was retitled "Saint Nick," and sure enough it introduces the religious icon as an otherworldly apparition who returns to the land of the living seeking bloody retribution. The film is more closely based on the regional myth of Sinterklaas, a Dutch figure inspired by the biblical Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of children.

The film starts out in the 15th century, where the bishop Niklas is murdered on December 5th. From then on, any time the date of his death lines up with a full moon, Niklas returns to the living world to get murderous revenge. Centuries pass, and by the present day Nicklas has formed the basis of the kindly legend of Sinterklaas, while for some he is just a mere boogeyman story. But when the full moon arrives, Saint Niklas rises as a ghostly medieval figure in religious garb who's out for blood. He rides a terrifying white horse, carries a deadly staff, and cannot be stopped.

A truly terrifying thriller with some eerie atmosphere and chilling, nightmarish imagery, "Sint" is stylish holiday horror. Benefitting from its fast-paced story, which moves quickly and with confidence, it induces spine-tingling terror all the way.

The Hebrew Hammer

Christmas isn't the only holiday of the festive season, and there's at least one Hannukah-loving action hero who can give a gun-toting Santa a run for his money. He's the Hebrew Hammer, and he's the star of the 2003 movie of the same name produced by Comedy Central films, starring Adam Goldberg, Judy Greer, and Andy Dick. His real name is Mordechai Jefferson Parker and, growing up as a young Jewish boy in a mostly non-Jewish school, he's mocked for celebrating the Festival of Lights instead of the usual yuletide event.

Resentful of being surrounded by Christmas every winter season, Mordechai channels his anger at society into becoming The Hebrew Hammer, a Jewish avenger who sounds the shofar of righteousness and fights against antisemitism. But when Santa Claus is killed, his cruel son Damian Claus (Dick) takes his place, and sets out to end Hannukah — and every other non-Christian holiday — once and for all. With the help of the Jewish Justice League and the Kwanzaa Liberation Front, the Hebrew Hammer sets out to take down the son of Santa.

Packed with matzo mayhem, "The Hebrew Hammer" may not be politically correct, and its premise pokes fun at anything and everything related to religion and the holidays, making it truly one of the funniest on this list. Though a cult favorite, it's been mostly overlooked since its release, but like a good dreidel it deserves another spin this Hannukah season.

Anna and the Apocalypse

From sinister Santas, Jewish justice-seekers and killer cookies, we move over to another kind of monster in "Anna and the Apocalypse," a Christmas zombie movie. More than just a horror flick, or even a holiday adventure, "Anna and the Apocalypse" is also a musical, filled with festive song and dance numbers sprinkled throughout the story of a young woman fighting her way through a zombie apocalypse just in time for Christmas. A British film from 2017 with a mostly unknown cast, it's gone under the radar for a while, so we're happy to be spreading the holiday cheer on this one.

Anna and her friends, John, Chris, and Steph, are all facing their own problems just as their small Scottish town is struck with an outbreak of a zombie virus. As the townspeople are transformed into mindless flesh-eaters, Anna and her friends take refuge in a bowling alley. Meanwhile, over at their high school, the teachers have taken up a defense of the remaining students while they await a military evacuation. Now, Anna must fight her way past an army of zombies to get to the school if she and her friends are going to make it out alive.

All told, "Anna and the Apocalypse" is a joyful horror comedy to rival the likes of "Shaun of the Dead" or "Zombieland." Its Christmas setting and musical numbers provide a cheerful backdrop that makes the carnage all the more merrier.

Silent Night

We may catch some grief for not recommending the original "Silent Night, Deadly Night," and instead picking the 2012 remake, "Silent Night." But while it may not necessarily be superior, it does have a closer vibe to the new David Harbour holiday thriller. Like the 1984 original, "Silent Night" features a seemingly unstoppable serial killer decked out in full Santa Claus garb, and he's on the loose on Christmas Eve. It stars Malcolm McDowell as the town sheriff, Jaime King as his loyal deputy, and Donal Logue as the psycho Santa.

The action takes place where most horror movies do, in a small town, this one called Cryer, Wisconsin. A cop is killed by a mysterious man dressed as Santa Claus, and it's up to Sheriff Cooper (McDowell) and new deputy Aubrey Bradimore (King) to stop him. As the bodies pile up on Christmas Eve, they narrow down their list of suspects — including a violent vagrant and a local sex offender — but clues seem to point to a madman with a connection to Aubrey's past. It all leads to a climactic battle between Aubrey and Santa, where a flamethrower may make the difference between survival and death.

If you came for a violent, action-packed Santa slasher, with blood-soaked terror and a maelstrom of violence and gore, "Silent Night" delivers it in spades. You may even find a few surprises amidst the good, twisted fun.

Secret Santa

Sometimes the most terrifying part of Chrismas isn't the violent killer Santa or deadly flesh-eating snowmen, but the family dinner. The holidays may be thought of as a joyous time, but for many families all it does is bring out the worst in everyone. That is the case in 2018's "Secret Santa," a movie that begins with the Pope family gathering for Christmas dinner and the usual domestic chaos. But if the passive-aggressive sniping and petty bickering between family members wasn't bad enough, things go from bad to worse when a mystery guest spikes their drinks with a truth serum, leading everyone to spill dark secrets.

After affairs are exposed and hidden truths revealed, things take an even more twisted turn when the serum begins to turn them from simple secret-spillers into deranged, violent psychopaths. Before you can jingle your bells, there's blood decking the halls, and the carnage doesn't stop until the dysfunctional dinner becomes a mindless massacre.

Propped up by some excellent performances from its mostly novice cast, viewers will find marvelous merriment in this delightfully black comedy, which delivers as many laughs as blood-curdling screams. A different kind of Christmas gorefest, reviewer Molly Henery — aka The Blogging Banshee – said it was "the holiday horror film to watch when you want to see a family that is more dysfunctional than your own."

A Christmas Horror Story

"A Christmas Horror Story" is not just one holiday adventure. Instead, it's an anthology film comprised of four distinct stories, each centered on the most festive day of the year. Like many anthology films, the story is bookended by a unique host of sorts, this time a slovenly radio DJ played by Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner. He's first seen giving a warning to listeners of a horrifying incident at the nearby mall, and that anyone nearby should vacate. We're then treated to four different Christmas stories.

The first follows a teenaged girl possessed by a ghost, while the second centers on a police officer who discovers a shapeshifting monster in the woods when he ventures out to chop down a Christmas tree. In the third installment we meet a family on the way to a Christmas dinner, who are stalked by the deadly creature Krampus when the children begin to act up. In the fourth and final story we're presented with Santa Claus himself, whose elves have been afflicted by a zombie virus, and he finds himself facing a horde of his own crazed, flesh-eating workers.

The gift that keeps on giving, "A Christmas Horror Story" is a wonderfully trippy series of stories, complete with a truly shocking conclusion. If you want something exciting, terrifying, brutal, and bloody for Christmas, this is the present you should open first.