Let’s face it, there’s always been something slightly suspicious about Santa Claus. Despite his jolly reputation, the fact that he spies on people while they’re sleeping, and then breaks into their homes in the middle of the night, makes Kris Kringle a bit of a creep when you get right down to it. As the raunchy comedy “Bad Santa 2” arrives in theaters, here are some of the nastiest, naughtiest, and most nauseating Santas in movies and TV.
Courtesy of Universal Studios/Dimension Films/Media 8 Entertainment
Trading Places (1983)
Stripped of his wealth and branded a criminal by his conniving bosses, Louis Winthorpe disguises himself as Kris Kringle and crashes the company Christmas party in the hopes of getting his old job back. Needless to say, it doesn’t work out well. The sight of Dan Aykroyd eating an entire smoked salmon through his filthy Santa beard is one of the grossest and funniest images in comedy history.
Courtesy of Paramount Pictures
Silent Night Deadly Night (1984)
After witnessing a criminal in a Santa suit murder both of his parents in cold blood, an impressionable young boy grows up to become an axe-wielding psycho with a Christmas fetish in this notorious slasher movie. Though the PTA successfully protested the film, leading to its removal from theaters, “Silent Night Deadly Night” spawned four sequels (one starring Mickey Rooney!) and a 2012 remake.
Courtesy of TriStar Pictures
Bad Santa (2003)
Billy Bob Thornton doesn’t just push the envelope as a sleazy mall Santa in Terry Zwigoff’s outrageous Christmas comedy; he obliterates it. Playing a drunken, foul-mouthed criminal whose vile personality masks a semi-decent heart, Thornton pulls out all the stops in what is by far his most hilarious role.
Courtesy of Dimension Films
“You sit on a throne of lies!” says Will Ferrell to a department store Santa played by raunchy comedian Artie Lange in this modern Christmas classic. But it’s Lange’s furious response (“How’d you like to be dead?”) that leads to a violent fight between the two of them while dozens of children scream in horror.
Courtesy of New Line Cinema
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
Directed by cartoon legend Chuck Jones, this Dr. Seuss masterpiece featured the voice of horror icon Boris Karloff as the dastardly green hermit who dresses as Santa to steal Christmas from the innocent citizens of Whoville. Though Jim Carrey assumed the title role 34 years later in Ron Howard’s cacophonous live-action version, the animated original remains one of the most beloved holiday stories of all time.
Courtesy of Universal Studios
Rare Exports (2010)
A strikingly original blend of humor and horror, this Finnish fantasy tells the story of an archeological crew that discovers the still-living body of Santa Claus hidden deep inside a giant frozen mountain. But instead of the cartoonish fat man with a bag full of toys that we’ve come to expect, the Santa in “Rare Exports” is a dark mythological creature with menacing supernatural powers.
Courtesy of FilmFlex
A Christmas Story (1983)
Desperate to get a Red Ryder air rifle for Christmas, 9-year old Ralphie Parker visits a department store Santa whose exasperated “Ho Ho Ho’s” sound like the ravings of a lunatic. When he finally musters the courage to ask for his dream gift, Ralphie hears the dreaded phrase “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid,” before promptly being kicked down a slide by Santa’s boot.
Courtesy of Warner Bros
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
No list of bizarre Santas is complete without Tim Burton’s Jack Skellington, who hops in a coffin-shaped sleigh pulled by a pack of skeletal reindeer to bring Christmas cheer to the ghoulish citizens of Halloween Town. Combining two seemingly mismatched holidays, “The Nightmare Before Christmas” was originally conceived when Burton noticed a store replacing its spooky Halloween merchandise with a colorful Christmas display.
Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures
The Silent Partner (1978)
Curtis Hanson wrote this sly Hitchcockian thriller that stars Christopher Plummer as a deadly bank robber who pulls a holdup while dressed as Santa Claus. Unfortunately for him, a mild mannered teller, played by Elliot Gould, double-crosses him. Whether he’s taunting Gould through a mail slot, or leaving a decapitated head in his fish tank, Plummer is positively chilling as the gun toting Saint Nick.
Courtesy of EMC Film Corporation
Die Hard (1988)
While battling criminals masquerading as terrorists on Christmas Eve, sardonic New York cop John McClane sends evil mastermind Hans Gruber a message by dressing one of his dead men in a Santa hat and writing “NOW I HAVE A MACHINE GUN HO-HO-HO” on his bloody sweatshirt.
Courtesy of 20th Century Fox
Tales From the Crypt (1989)
Larry Drake played several maniacs throughout his career (“Darkman,” “Dr. Giggles”), but his role as an escaped serial killer who stalks a mother in her home while dressed as Santa Claus remains his most frightening. The episode, titled “And All Through the House,” was directed by Robert Zemeckis, and was based on a gruesome 1950 story in the comic book “Vault of Horror.”
Courtesy of Genesis Entertainment
Joe Dante’s holiday classic is filled with wonderfully creepy images, yet the scene where Phoebe Cates explains why she hates Christmas is perhaps the most macabre moment of all. In a show-stopping monologue, Cates confesses that when she was 9 years old her father died in the family’s chimney while dressed in a Santa Claus suit. On the DVD’s commentary track, Dante admits that studio execs wanted to cut the scene because they couldn’t tell whether it was supposed to be funny or disturbing.
Courtesy of Warner Bros.
Christmas Evil (1980)
No less an authority than trash auteur John Waters praised this indescribably odd thriller about a mentally unbalanced toymaker whose obsession with Christmas leads to a string of gory murders. Originally released under the title “You’d Better Watch Out,” the film’s blend of sincerity and sadism, coupled with its head-scratching climax, makes it a cult movie unlike any other.
Courtesy of Pan American Pictures
Set during the Christmas shopping season, David Cronenberg’s grisly shocker about a deadly contagion that turns people into rabid killers includes a sequence where an outbreak at a crowded mall leads to Santa Claus being blown away by a trigger-happy cop. The image of Kris Kringle’s bloody body slumped in his chair is a perfect example of the director’s pitch black sense of humor.
Courtesy of New World Pictures
Santa’s Slay (2004)
World Wrestling champion Bill Goldberg played a demonic version of Santa Claus in the intentionally goofy horror comedy “Santa’s Slay.” According to the film’s twisted mythology, Santa is actually the son of Satan, and was forbidden from killing humans thanks to a bet he lost with an angel one thousand years ago. With the bet now over, it’s time for some Christmas-themed mayhem to begin! Co-produced by Brett Ratner, the movie features cameos by Fran Drescher and James Caan.