Deathcember star AJ Bowen shares his top 5 Christmas horror movies
The actor is a big fan of Black Christmas, Rare Exports, and Jaws: The Revenge. Yes, really.
In horror circles, actor AJ Bowen is famous for two things: appearing in the bone-chilling likes of The Signal, The House of the Devil, and You're Next, and being a really big fan of Christmas horror movies.
"I guess that’s my weird kink," the actor tells EW. "It's highly satisfying to me when the stakes of a genre film are meshed together with snow and cold."
Bowen can currently be seen in a Christmas horror movie, the holiday season-themed Deathcember, which also features Barbara Crampton and Tiffany Shepis in the collective cast and a list of filmmakers which includes Lucky McKee and Walking Dead actress Pollyanna McIntosh. Bowen himself appears in a segment directed by Sam Wineman.
"I was working on Chelsea Stardust’s movie Satanic Panic and I met Sam Wineman, who did second unit direction," says Bowen. "We just immediately hit it off and found out that we had a fascination with Christmas horror. He reached out to me and said he was directing a piece for a Christmas-theme horror anthology. I said, 'Let me stop you right there, the answer’s yes.'"
But what are Bowen's all-time favorite Christmas horror movies? Grab a glass of eggnog and check out the actor's choices below.
Jaws: The Revenge (1987)
AJ BOWEN: It’s much maligned. Yes, there’s a haunted shark in it, and, yes, it screams like a lion at various moments. But take the haunted shark out of it and it’s a pretty compelling family drama about loss. I’m not even making a joke about that. Especially at the beginning, when it’s cold, and Sean Brody is out on the water, and I believe there's a children's choir on the pier for whatever reason, singing "The First Noel" as he’s then eaten by a haunted shark — I just loved the combo. It’s supposed to be a time of safety and love and family and then there’s this haunted shark that’s methodically hunting them. That was my gateway drug for Christmas horror.
Black Christmas (1974)
BOWEN: My favorite horror film of all-time is ’74 Black Christmas. It's stacked with really good actors and just seemed so formative for what would end up being the slasher genre, which is one of my favorite subgenres. It’s an annual watch for me, which means at this point I've probably seen it at the bare minimum 25 times. They play it every year at the New Beverly. Anybody who's in L.A. — when there’s not a pandemic — that has the opportunity to go see it with an audience, I highly recommend it.
Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (1974)
BOWEN: I’ll pick one out of the Silent Night, Deadly Night franchise, but it’s not going to be the first one. The original Silent Night, Deadly Night is a tad mean for me. But, for whatever reason, Silent Night Deadly Night 2 is hands down my favorite of the bunch. I’m aware it's 60 percent original Silent Night Deadly Night recut but it's kind of a shocking film. The first time I saw it I finished the movie, went back, and rewatched it literally back-to-back.
Deadly Games, a.k.a. Dial Code Santa Claus (1982)
BOWEN: I used to try and argue with people that Home Alone is a horror film, based on character perspective. Because, if you’re one of the burglars, it’s a nightmare. It’s a full-on nightmare. But I don’t have to argue that anymore because I learned that Deadly Games exists. That movie is bonkers. It’s sort of a horror mash-up of Home Alone and Die Hard.
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)
BOWEN: There's so many I could pick. I could say Christmas Evil. Do you count Night of the Comet as a Christmas horror film? I could rattle off Gremlins and how much I love that movie. But in terms of modern stuff, I’ve got to go with Rare Exports. I’ve already watched it! Normally, I crap on people who start putting up Christmas decorations this early. But this year, given everything that’s going on, I was walking through our rural neighborhood in the mountains, and there’s people with Christmas lights already up, and I just had this moment of, thank you, that’s so wonderful. It made me go put on Rare Exports. [Laughs] I find that movie highly comforting. If it’s Scandinavian, for whatever reason, their filmmaking slays me and so seeing a Christmas horror where, again, a young person is one of the central characters, I felt like I was watching an Amblin movie. It felt like a child of Gremlins in terms of magical realism, things working out. I really love it.
Shout Studios and Scream Factory's Deathcember is released on digital platforms Nov. 24 and on cable VOD Dec. 1.
See the Deathcember trailer at the top of this post.