10 Twisted Holiday Movies That'll Spike Your Eggnog

Once again, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. The halls are decked, the tree is up, and it’s time to binge-watch holiday movies until visions of sugarplums dance in your eyeholes. But too much gooey, sentimental sweetness from classics like Miracle on 34th Street or A Christmas Story can leave you with a serious New Year’s hangover. A proper holiday movie marathon needs a healthy mix of sour with the sweet. (You can’t make a rum cake without some strong spiced rum, right?) 
Silent Night, now streaming on AMC+, is the latest film to tap into the tension, dread, and dark humor of the holiday season. Keira Knightley, forever cemented in holiday movie lore thanks to Love Actually, stars as a member of a family celebrating Christmas under seemingly normal circumstances. Gradually, however, we realize things are not as they seem. What unfolds is a frighteningly timely twist on the holiday movie genre. 
Before you settle in for Silent Night, check out some other seasonal flicks where things aren’t always merry and bright… but they’re definitely entertaining!
10. Eyes Wide Shut
Glamorous parties, bizarre costumes, infidelity.. .what else would you expect from a holiday movie directed by Stanley Kubrick? The master filmmaker’s final work combines mystery, eroticism, secret societies, and Tom Cruise wandering empty streets decked out with twinkling lights. No heartwarming treacle here—when Tom and Nicole Kidman go head-to-head in an epic martial spat, we’re as far away from The Santa Clause as possible. If you’re looking for a moody alternative to the usual holiday fare, grab some mulled cider and revisit this underrated gem in Kubrick’s filmography. (Creepy mask optional.)
9. Scrooged
The Bill Murray holiday favorite Scrooged opens with terrorists attacking Santa’s workshop. Don’t worry though, Lee Majors is here to save Christmas! The fictional TV movie “The Night the Reindeer Died” is just one of the many twists on the yuletide season in this update of A Christmas Carol. Murray’s cynical network executive Frank Cross says “Bah humbug!” to his fellow man, woman, and mouse. (He’s okay with stapling antlers to their cute lil’ heads.) But thanks to three ghosts, Cross sees the error of his ways. Whether he’s trading blows with Carol Kane’s Ghost of Christmas Present or giving a wonderfully unhinged message of peace and goodwill, Murray is always a hilarious lump of coal in our stocking.
8. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Screenwriter/director Shane Black has made a cottage industry out of quirky action flicks set during Christmas. With films ranging from Lethal Weapon to Iron Man 3, Black offers tough-talking characters getting run through the ringer amidst mistletoe and holly. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is another feather in Black’s Santa cap that deftly mixes “ho, ho, ho” with “ho ho oh no he didn’t!” moments. Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer are perfectly paired in this twisted tale that melds crime, Hollywood satire, and a plot that’s more Chinatown than It’s a Wonderful Life.

7. The Ref 
Family drama during the holidays is stressful enough. When you add in an armed thief, you get a black comedy that’s Home Alone with a dash of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Funnyman Dennis Leary is in signature angry comic mode as a crook who finds himself caught up in the dysfunction between a squabbling couple (Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis) and their toxic family members on Christmas Eve. With a sharp screenplay laced with acidic one-liners and an ace supporting cast (Christine Baranski, J.K. Simmons), The Ref is a hilariously bitter tonic for the holiday blues.
6. The Ice Harvest
Inclement weather during the holidays can be a real thorn in your Christmas wreath. But when you’re a mob lawyer (John Cusack) and a strip club proprietor (Billy Bob Thornton) trying to get away with $2 million stolen from a gangster (Randy Quaid) on Christmas Eve, icy conditions can mean the difference between life and death. The late, great Harold Ramis directs this raunchy crime caper which captures the frustrations of winter travel and the existential dread of the holidays. It’s the perfect treat if you’re looking for some NSFG (Not Safe For Grandma) holiday viewing.
5. The Silent Partner 
Christopher Plummer is usually associated with that wholesome holiday entertainment classic The Sound of Music, but for a decidedly darker side of the great actor, check out the underrated 1978 crime thriller The Silent Partner. Plummer plays a psychopathic crook who attempts to rob a shopping mall bank while dressed as Santa. His holiday hijinks are thwarted, however, by a seemingly mild-mannered teller (Elliot Gould) who has his own plans for the moolah. A tense game of cat-and-mouse unfolds, set during the busy holiday shopping season. (Home Alone fans will also want to keep an eye out for a young John Candy in the cast.)

4. Less Than Zero
This bleak Brat Pack classic, set during a series of opulent holiday parties, explores the seedy side of the ‘80s Yuppie fantasy. As Clay (Andrew McCarthy) and Blair (Jami Gertz) attempt to save their high school pal Julian (Robert Downey Jr.) from descending into drug addiction,   Less Than Zero captures the wistful sadness that often goes hand-in-hand with reconnecting with old friends over the holidays. Come for the killer soundtrack filled with ‘80s bangers from The Bangles, Run-DMC, and more, and stay for the wild, winter-themed parties that pop with festive color.
3. Batman Returns 
With films like A Nightmare Before Christmas and Edward Scissorhands, Tim Burton has become the patron saint of twisted holiday delights. Batman Returns, his follow-up to the 1989 mega blockbuster Batman, is where Burton’s tinsel-covered freak flag really flies. Snow blankets Gotham City as Batman battles sultry Catwoman and The Penguin, a black bile spewing wretch who suggests a dark twist on Tiny Tim. From an action sequence set at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony, to Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle discovering each others’ secret identities during a holiday masquerade ball, Batman Returns is a wintry blast of Gothic fun that fits perfectly in a double feature with that other yuletide action favorite, Die Hard. Leave it to Tim Burton to give us a Batman movie where The Penguin kidnaps Gotham’s holiday mascot The Ice Princess.
2. Krampus
A lack of holiday spirit can dampen the festive season, but in the horror comedy Krampus, failing to believe in the magic of Christmas brings about a fate worse than a cheesy sweater under the tree. When a family’s bickering causes an ancient demon to wreak havoc in a small town, it’s up to a young boy to regain his holiday mojo and defeat the hoofed, chain-wielding anti-Claus. Mixing scares with seasonal humor and heart, Krampus is creepier than a pack of Gremlins after a midnight fruitcake feast.
1. Bad Santa
Billy Bob Thornton became the poster boy for the dysfunctional side of the holidays with this turn as a drunken, lascivious, and foul-mouthed shopping mall Santa. Director Terry Zwigoff amps up the comedic mayhem in this cult favorite, which reveals a sweet side as Thornton’s crook gradually has his heart melted by a precocious youngster who believes in the power of Santa. It’s the holiday comedy that proves that some Saint Nicks are actually secret Grinches.
Watch the trailer for Silent Night below, and stream the film right now on AMC+