It’s the Christmas season and you know what that means? Yeah, it’s time to bust out the eggnog, get the tinsel flying and start counting the bodies. If there’s anything Christmas films like Die Hard have taught me (I’m not igniting that tinder box of the internet with this argument, Die Hard is a Christmas film deal with it) it’s that any good Christmas film has a body count hefty enough to fill a couple of Santa’s mystical bags.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: There’s so many Christmas films to choose from, which one is the deadliest of them all? That’s what I’m planning on answering today with this very blog post. With that there’s no time like the present to get into it, so let’s just dive right in.
Note: Die Hard would be in contention but it’s a bit too obvious so I’m omitting it from consideration.
This classic eighties comedy horror film whose premise is based off the name given to malfunctions that occurred in the allies planes during battles – the aforementioned gremlins – is kicking off this freak show with bared teeth, a manic scream and dual daggers.
If you haven’t seen this film, the plot follows Billy Peltzer, son of struggling inventor Randall Peltzer, as he tries to control the new Christmas gift – called a Mogwai - that his father bestows upon him like the harbinger of the third apocalypse.
Now there’s three rules that owners of these creatures have to follow; one, don’t expose them to light- specifically sunlight-, two, don’t let it come into contact with water, and three, never feed them after midnight.
Billy breaks the land speed record attempting to break all three of these rules, resulting in a Christmas with a gang of adolescent Mogwai out on the town watching pornographic films, smoking, drinking and oh yeah murdering…
Although we’re not explicitly shown a lot of townspeople dying on screen, we see the gremlins hijack a bulldozer and run through a house with people inside it. We also get a vicious massacre of gremlins in Billy’s kitchen (most notably one getting nuked in the microwave).
So why is this film kicking us off? Well, while there’s not a lot of bodies dropping in this film, we see the systematic genocide of an entire species of creatures by one of its own which bumps the value of the bodies up a bit from the normal value.
In central and eastern alpine folklore, the Krampus is a horned anthropomorphic monster who scares children who have misbehaved during the Christmas season. Both Krampus and Saint Nicholas work together with Krampus rewarding well behaved children with modest gifts like oranges, dried fruit and chocolate while punishing misbehaving children with birch rods.
The version of Krampus in the 2015 American horror comedy is a lot more… excessive with his punishments. How has this monstrous creature been summoned you ask? Well, a little boy has lost his festive spirit due to the excessive squabbling and fighting of his dysfunctional family.
Now you’d think that the cure for losing your Christmas spirit would just have Father Christmas himself to spread some extra festive cheer around. Krampus decides to go the complete opposite direction by descending on the neighbourhood and laying absolute siege to it.
He tears through the entire family using all sort of monstrous perversions of Christmas, toying with them and scaring them half to death before throwing them into a bottomless pit of despair. The end of the film reveals that the family along with their entire neighbourhood are now trapped in a purgatory snow globe being watched forever by Krampus.
So obviously, trapping an entire neighbourhood in a snow globe isn’t quite as bad as murdering an entire species but Krampus does end up killing the spirit of Christmas for at least one child and that’s destroying a child’s innocence, chalk it up on the list.
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
This 1946 American Christmas Drama film has the tale as old as time, it’s Christmas Eve, you’ve had just the worst year, you’ve been accused of stealing money and have a warrant out for your arrest and you decide you’re going to top yourself. Thankfully, your family finds out what you’re planning and send their thoughts and prayers up to heaven and they hear them and decide to send your guardian angel down to talk you out of it.
How does this guardian angel convince you not to kill yourself and cause immeasurable pain and sadness to your family? Why he shows you a flashback of your life showing you all the good things you’ve done.
This is exactly what happens to George Bailey on Christmas Eve 1945. His guardian angel shows him the time he saved his brother from drowning, saving a pharmacist from poisoning some children and putting his life savings into a failing bank. He’s also shown where in life all his relatives and loved ones would be without him.
Dismayed by learning what becomes of his loved ones and realising he has something more to give to the world, George begs for his life back and once the main reality is restored, runs home to be with his family as the credits roll.
Now, no ones dies in this film so why is it taking the top spot? Well, by having this guardian angel appear in the film, we know this world that the film occupies has just had the entire religious beliefs of Christianity confirmed.
Not only does this makes all the atheists and other non Christian religions in this universe defunct (we’re not told explicitly but this is an American film made back in the forties so draw from that what you will), it also shows us that alternate realities exist and out of all of them there’s one where everyone’s dead.
Are there any Christmas films I missed? Which film do you think has the highest body count? Let me know down below.
Just like that, we've reached the final blog post for 2021! It's been a wild and exciting year and I'm so glad you could be a part of it. I'll see you with new blog posts from the 9th of January 2022. Make sure to subscribe so you know as soon as it drops!
If you're looking for something else to read in the downtime, check out my short stories!
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Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!