Maybe it was because I was not raised to believe in Santa Claus (my parents are Jewish), but the idea of a man with a bad thyroid breaking and entering is terrifying. Having kids sit on his lap at the mall is just creepy. In other words, I have no illusions of a "heartwarming" Santa. Luckily, filmmakers over the years haven't been precious about Old St. Nick either. For those of you who don't hold Santa dear, here are a few of my favorite, evil Santas.
Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
The title alone of this 1980s slasher flick captivated me as a child. It is hard to know which screwed up young Billy more: watching his parents get murdered by a guy dressed as Santa Claus, or being sent to a strict Catholic orphanage afterwards. When Billy turned 18 he got a job at a toy store, where all was fine and dandy until he was forced to play the store Santa Claus. A switch was flipped in his brain, and he spent the rest of the holiday season killing those he believes were on his "naughty" list.
Fun Fact: Silent Night, Deadly Night opened the same weekend as A Nightmare on Elm Street - and outgrossed it. Parents groups were outraged at the portrayal of Santa Claus as a serial killer, and the film was pulled from theaters shortly thereafter.
According to Futurama, in the future, Christmas is now Xmas, and it is a night of terror. Robot Santa was created by Mom's Friendly Robot Company and programmed to determine who has been naughty and who has been nice. But a programming glitch causes Robot Santa to set his standards impossibly high and deems everyone naughty. Instead of lumps of coal, Robot Santa doles out murder - but it is festive murder! He kills with ornament-shaped grenades and weaponized mistletoe.
Fun Fact: Robot Santa is friends with Kwanzabot and Chanukah Zombie.
Invader Zim (2002)
This brilliant but short-lived cartoon created by Jhonen Vasquez (Johnny the Homicidal Maniac) and Roman Dirge (Lenore) about an incompetent alien invader ended its short run with a Christmas episode. Zim sees the hold that Santa Claus has over the humans, so he dresses up in a computerized suit that looks like Santa in hopes of bringing about humanity's end. The suit malfunctions, kicking Zim out, and being sent off to outer space, where it grows a mind of its own and returns annually to wreck havoc on the humans.
Fun Fact: Santa has a theme song about his "jolly boots of doom."
The Dutch answer to Santa Claus is Sinterklaas, a figure based on St. Nicholas, patron saint of children. In Dick Maas's Sint, Sinterklaas terrorizes the Dutch when his day (December 5th) falls on the eve of the full moon. Instead of reindeer, Sinterklaas rides a white horse and carries with him a bladed crosier which he uses to brutally murder pretty much everyone. Check it out on FEARnet this month!
Fun Fact: Parents in the Netherlands sued Maas and the distribution company to remove Sint posters, claiming that children who still believed in Sinterklaas would be frightened by the ominous movie poster. Maas argued that if you could make your kids believe in Sinterklaas, you could also make them believe he was good. The courts sided with Maas.
Rare Exports (2010)
Another new entry into the "evil Santa" sub-subgenre, Rare Exports is a Scandinavian film whose "Santa" punishes naughty children. Hundreds of years ago, the people of a small Finnish town were tired of Santa kidnapping and murdering their children, so they buried him a mountain. A mining firm starts digging the mountain up, and they let loose the evil Claus. Naturally, it is up to one little boy to save the world (or at least his town) from Santa.
Fun Fact: Santa warmed up his killing skills by slaughtering hundreds of reindeer instead of enslaving them.