We all know what horrors to watch around Christmas. There’s been plenty of movies set on the holiday, covering almost every subgenre. But what about the rest of winter? What comes after Black Christmas and Silent Night, Deadly Night? What goes beyond The Thing and The Shining? Well, thank God for me, right? Yes. Now pop open a hard cider, warm up some holiday leftovers, and let’s settle down for a long winter’s marathon.
P2/While She Was Out – If you still have the tree up in January, plug those lights back in and put on one of these violent Christmas thrillers – both of which I consider extremely underrated during the holiday season when older slashers normally reign supreme.
In P2, Wes Bentley plays a wonderfully weird stalker and the “corporate parking garage in December” setting sets up a nice, chilly atmosphere for the viewer. And in While She Was Out, based on a short story that can be found in a couple horror anthology books, Kim Basinger gives you a mature final girl worth rooting for as she evades, and then begins to fight back, against a gang of ruthless thugs in the middle of some icy urban woods.
Phantoms – Phantoms is still a sleeper flick I feel like. Most genre fans only recall it after being reminded of the cast (Ben Affleck and Rose McGowan) and of certain scenes like the attack of some kind of alien-moth creature. But based on the book by Dean Koontz, before he got soft, I always recommend it during the colder months for anyone who is looking to revisit a film. Sure, some of the effects are dated and hokey, but the movie mainly relies on a general eeriness and a “what you can’t see” type monster.
Wind Chill – I didn’t expect much from this film when I first saw it. And yes, while it’s nothing amazing or original, it’s still a fairly decent ghost story that plays well with the notion of history repeating itself. Plenty of snow and frostbite to be had throughout as well, making it a nice winter watch.
Storm of the Century – One of the better Stephen King TV miniseries, about a Maine island imprisoned by a blizzard… and its residents besieged by a strange, supernatural man who’s come for something very particular and who won’t leave without it. Solid acting, an interesting plot, and identifyably “King”, this is a good choice if you have a long night to spend inside.
30 Days of Night – Maybe not completely underrated, since most people seem to enjoy this one, but, I mean… Finally! A winter horror unafraid to spill at least a little blood in the snow. If you haven’t seen this movie, about vampires slaughtering an Alaskan town that’s experiencing the long, dark winter the state is famous for, then you must. It’s action-packed, bloody, and the vampires are brutal and sadistic, which is just how I like them.
BOOKS: If you like to get some reading done on your winter break instead, you can do it with some of the above options as well. Phantoms is one of Koontz’s best novels and 30 Days of Night is the first of many graphic novels you can dive into.
Apart from those, I’d also recommend Lot Lizards by Ray Garton, about chick vamps terrorizing folks stranded by snow at a highway truck stop, and Tabitha King’s (Stephen King’s wife) slow-burning novel The Trap, which reads like a drama until the wild climax, which echoes last-stand films like Straw Dogs.
I’d love any other suggestions you all have, as I’m updating these kinds of lists regularly now. But if not, enjoy these ones and have a great New Year!