Christmas is the time for all things magical. Happy, exciting and wonderful are some words people use to describe the festivities. Some of the best films of the year are shot around Christmas. But there’s also a particular fear looming around the corners of the Grinch stealing Christmas again.
When Jeff Winger (Joel McHale) said, “I think what we’ve learned, Abed, is that attempts to make the holidays brighter tend to give them a certain darkness,” he was talking about some Christmas movie characters. Not the beloved ones like Buddy the Elf or Nikolas de A Boy Called Noelbut some creepy characters, always looking for ways to ruin Christmas.
Jack Frost – ‘Jack Frost’ (1998)
In 1997, Jack Frost, a horror film about a serial killer who becomes a snowman, was released. A year later, another film of the same name was released. Except this time it was a family movie where a careless dead father returns as a snowman. Is it a healthy twist to its bloody predecessor? Absolutely not.
Jack Frost is an annoying character in children’s movies, and while coming back from the dead itself isn’t quite as gruesome, the snowman certainly is. While the two snowmen are menacing and scary, Michael Keaton‘s Jack Frost will give you goosebumps, ironically doing what was supposed to be healthy nightmare fuel for the characters.
Future Christmas – ‘Scrooged’ (1988)
Although there have been countless Jacob Marley adaptations of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickensone of the most popular is John Forsytheis Lew Hayward, the ghost of Christmas Future, who trades piggy banks for golf bags. Scrooged presents Frank Cross (Bill Murray), a selfish television executive, as the Scrooge-like character.
Lew’s heavily decayed structure is frightening and gruesome, evidenced by the mouse escaping from a hole in his head and the cobwebs covering his rotting body. The wailing lost souls trapped inside the ghost’s ribcage that appears when he opens his robe are some of the most disgusting creatures you’ll find in any movie, which makes his character scarier.
Jacob Marley – “A Christmas Carol” (1984)
Even with many adaptations of A Christmas Carolno Jacob Marley comes so close to Frank Finleyrepresentation in A Christmas Carol (1984). This made-for-TV movie features George C Scott as Scrooge, which makes the horror feel grounded and real: but even with Scott’s incredible portrayal, Marley steals the stage, beating anyone within a mile.
In the darkest and scariest version of the story, Marley is particularly gruesome, night-terror material for most audiences. He teaches Scrooge how to erase the writing of his name from his grave, and scarily enough, his tombstone has no name on it.
The Hobo – ‘The Polar Express’ (2004)
The conductor and the tramp in The Polar Express are eerily similar characters, both offering the boy hero the same advice: “seeing is believing”. However, while The Tramp has moments of friendliness, his role has an element of ambiguity, leaving viewers baffled by his changing nature.
Sure, he’s not a rotting ghoul, but he’s just as weird. If his lifeless eyes and creepy CGI appearance aren’t unnerving enough, his Scrooge puppet and dark, pessimistic, albeit realistic, take on life might put you off.
Uncle Drosselmeyer – “The Nutcracker: The Movie” (1986)
Nutcracker is one of the most difficult ballets to adapt, and Hollywood’s hand proved disappointing. The Nutcracker: The Movie turned out to be a strange and somewhat disconcerting adaptation of the famous ballet. However, the scariest part of this feature wasn’t the three-headed Rat King or the wild-eyed Nutcracker. Instead, it was Uncle Drosselmeyer, played by Hugh Bigney.
Drosselmeyer was one of the essential characters in both the book and the ballet, and not once has his character been called evil, but the film version represents a dangerous aura for the guy, and the way he looks at different characters is terrifying.
The Ghost of Christmases Past – ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’ (1992)
The Ghost of Christmas Past appears to Ebenezer Scrooge as an ethereal, childish figure in The Puppet Christmas Carol. As cute as you might think kids are; this ghost is one of the most disturbing specters in the history of A Christmas Carol adaptations. Seeing children without innocence is a nightmare for most humans, so seeing a young Victorian girl floating around in her white dress and bonnet carrying Ebenezer Scrooge shook people up.
Although it might not be something one would consider upon first viewing The Puppet Christmas Carolit overwhelms you over time, making you restless.
Band – ‘Gremlins’ (1984)
The First Batch’s gremlin leader, Stripe, is the main villain of Gremlins. He is one of the most malevolent green ghouls terrorizing Kingston Falls, and while his fellow ghouls act out of chaotic mischief and not outright evil with a mission to destroy Christmas, the same cannot be said for their chief.
Stripe gets its name from the tuft of white fur on its head and, just like the hairstyle, is 100% evil. He lets the world know his intentions and is quick to point out that he was still the same even before his transformation from Mogwai to Gremlin.
Santa Claus – “A Christmas Story” (1983)
Although it’s hilarious and one of the best watches of the season, A Christmas story features disturbing seasons that seem strange to audiences when viewed up close. Especially the one with Santa Mall. In Santa’s defense, everything about a fisheye camera is scary, but his character and appearance are still a bit unnerving.
While it’s understandable that all the Santas in the mall are exhausted and look tired at the end of their shift, this one looks like something of a night terror instead of an old elf joyful. It’s no wonder little Ralphie stumbles over his words.
The Grinch – “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (2000)
What was supposed to be an adaptation of a children’s storybook was ultimately what took them completely away from Christmas. According to some parents, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, classified for the general public, is strictly reserved for adults. Crude humor and innuendo aside, The Grinch, meant to be a mildly creepy character, turns out to be something kids are terrified for their lives.
The Grinch’s overall appearance is extremely disturbing and makes most adults squirm in their seat. While the Grinch’s evil character is somewhat redeemed by the ultimate sadness of life and his father’s behavior, his appearance still scares people.
The Winter Warlock – “Santa Claus Comes to Town” (1970)
The Winter Warlock, later called Winter, is one of the scariest characters in Christmas history. An immortal hermit with jagged fangs and capable of holding The Big Man in Red himself, the Winter Warlock is malleable villainy in his most chilling form. Luckily, halfway through the movie, he goes through a fulfilling transformation.
But despite his early transformation, the Winter Warlock is icy cold, a detail made evident in one particular shot where lightning dances across his face. With her sharp features and shark teeth, Winter’s introduction has caused a legion of nightmares for children everywhere.
KEEP READING: Moments From Classic Christmas Movies That Are Actually A Little Scary