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The Crisis of Haunting Christmas

Updated on March 30, 2017

Marley's ghost disturbs Scrooge


Scrooge is haunted by his past

A classic Christmas song popularized by Andy Williams is entitled It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. Some holiday stories fuse Halloween and Christmas themes together. Remember the famous line, “There’ll be scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmases long long ago.” Charles Dickens novel, A Christmas Carol, is a great example of it. Ebenezer Scrooge, an old penny pincher faces Christmas past, Christmas present, and Christmas future. Awakened during midnight by his ex-business partner, Jacob Marley, Scrooge listens to dragging chains and remorseful allegations. Scrooge envisions a terrifying vision of the invalid, Tiny Tim's death, and it forces him to change his miserly ways.

A Christmas Carol has been adapted into many film versions including animation. The chart list below samples several of them through the years but there are many others.

Sample film versions of "A Christmas Carol"

Film production
Thomas Ricketts
Essanay: 15 minute silent film
Marc McDermott
Edison Manufacturing Company; 10 minute silent movie
Reginald Owen
Metro-Goldwyn Mayer
Alastair Sim
Renown Picture Corporation UK ; United Artist USA
W.C. Fields
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation; television movie
Henry Winkler plays Benedict Slade (Scrooge Character)
Smith-Hemion Productions and Stanley Chase Productions; "An American Christmas Carol"
Alan Young voiceover for Scrooge McDuck
Buena Vista Distribution Company; animated production of Mickey's Christmas Carol
George C. Scott
Columbia Broadcasting System
Michael Caine performs with Muppet characters
Walt Disney Pictures presents Jim Henson Productions; Buena Vista Pictures
Patrick Stewart
Turner Network Television
Tori Spelling plays Scrooge as talk show host
Harmark Entertainment produces a modern adaptation
Jim Carrey voiceover for animated Scrooge
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Vincent Fegan
October Eleven Pictures Ltd. distributed by Pop Twist Entertainment
Taryn Manning plays white-trash mother (Scrooge Character)
August Heart Entertainment distributed by Eagle Films; All American Christmas Carol

The classic Halloween witch

Toy-like characters appear galore in The Wizard of Oz, written by Frank Baum and adapted into an MGM motion picture starring Judy Garland. It has the visual appeal of a Halloween-Christmas holiday movie. The Scarecrow, Tin Woodsman and Cowardly Lion, are colorful heroic characters that protect Dorothy. They all share personal problems among one another. Munchkin Land and Emerald City are inhabited by strange characters that dread a bad witch. The Wicked Witch of the West is the greatest model on film of a classic Halloween witch. She wears a tall coned black hat, has a long hooked nose, and green skin. She flies on a broom stick.

Classic Halloween witch

Margaret Hamilton starred as Wiked Witch of the West, Wizard of Oz (1939)
Margaret Hamilton starred as Wiked Witch of the West, Wizard of Oz (1939) | Source

The green monster anti-Santa Clause

How the Grinch stole Christmas is a classic Christmas tale written by Dr. Seus. The Grinch is a miserable green monster, disturbed about everything related to Christmas. He masterminds a plot in which to stop it. The Grinch disguises himself in a Santa suit and dresses up his dog max as a reindeer. The Grinch robbed Who-Ville of all their toys, presents, and food. He tells lies to disappointed Cindy-Lou Who, a young child. Who-Ville gather together and sing Christmas carols without gift wrapped presents and food. The Grinch learns that love among family and community is much stronger than material possessions and becomes a good man. He carves Christmas roast for his new Who-Ville friends.

The Grinch lies to Cindy-Lou-Who

Jim Carrey starred as The Grinch in How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Jim Carrey starred as The Grinch in How the Grinch Stole Christmas | Source

Jack Skellington trades Halloween for Christmas

Tim Burton’s animated The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) includes traditional Halloween characters and honors Christmas. It is recognized as the ultimate Halloween-Christmas animated feature. Jack Skellington is the pumpkin king of Halloween Town. He discovers Christmas Town and attempts to adapt his home town to their holiday concept. He is bored of terrifying everyone on Halloween and kidnaps Santa Claus. His monsters slowly adapt to Jack’s new idea of Christmas tradition. Jack is stunned that his girlfriend and Santa Claus are kidnapped by one of his enemies. Jack masquerades as Santa Claus with humorous results.

Jack impersonates Santa Claus

Jack Skellington starred in The Night Before Christmas
Jack Skellington starred in The Night Before Christmas | Source

Origin of fairy tales

Evil queen transforms into old hag

Old hag presents poison apple in Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Old hag presents poison apple in Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs | Source

Classic fairytales are frightening

Folk tales around the world set-off a tradition of story telling that varied each time someone retold a tale. The Grimm Brothers gathered many German fairy tales, some of them inspired from other lands, and compiled a huge collection. Hans Christian Anderson wrote original fairy tales with wonderful imagination and fantasy elements.

Grimms' Fairy Tales are popular during Christmas and many of them explore a theme of darkness versus light. Heroes in battle need to defeat villains and earn the love of beautiful damsels. They inspired one of the most successful animated features released from Walt Disney Productions. The Grimm tales were entitled "Snow White and Rose-Red" and "The Glass Coffin" also provided inspiration. They are different tales than the Disney version.

Walt Disney’s animated Snow White and the Seven Dwarves was often released on big screens during Christmas time. An evil queen asks a huntsman to kill Snow White, but the goodness of his heart prevents him from stabbing her with a knife. He tells her to run away. She flees through a dark horrifying forest. Her mind imagines the worst. Atmospheric mood lightens up when she is befriended by forest animals and seven dwarves. Snow White and the little men dance and perform yodel songs. She sings to them a personal love song about the prince. Later, Snow White is endangered when the evil queen transforms herself into an old hag and prepares a poison apple. The black magic spell is visually chilling. The witch frightens her large black raven. The movie is a struggle between good and evil. Prince Charming kisses Snow White on the lips while she sleeps in a glass coffin. He tips the scales for goodness once and for all.

Sleeping Beauty, another Disney animated feature, includes a classic battle between light and darkness. Three colorful fairies create magic with their wands. Wicked Queen Maleficent puts an evil spell on Princess Aurora and entrances her into pricking her finger on the spinning wheel. The fairies put a spell on the whole kingdom until she reawakens; they want to prevent King Hubert and King Stephan from learning about the tragedy. The spell of cold snowfall puts the whole kingdom to sleep. The mood evokes a feeling of Christmas time. The good witch of the east cast a similar spell of reversal with Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tinman, and the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz motion picture. She awakened them from the evil witch’s poisonous poppy field. Snow melts into water. Water is a pure element.

Maleficent transforms into a fire-breathing dragon and the film engages in Halloween elements once again until Prince Phillip kills it and saves Princess Aurora. Sleeping Beauty includes cute animals like the red caped owl and a romantic waltz from Tchaikovsky, Once upon a Dream.

Prince Phillip fights fire-breathing dragon

Disney's Sleeping Beauty
Disney's Sleeping Beauty | Source

Powerful dark forces threaten to vanguish good

Good Wizards versus evil Wizards are epic adventures that are fun to pay attention to from Halloween through Christmas holidays. J.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter adventures, which began with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone are successful motion picture franchises adapted from popular novels. Lord of the Rings includes powerful good wizards fighting evil powerful sorcerers. Harry Potter and his friends attend magic school to become wizards and encounter ambitious wizards that have evil motives. Both films are excellent examples of the power of darkness (evil) defeated by the power of light (good).

Harry Potter began training at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and arrived there for the Christmas holidays. The Great Hall of Hogwarts is decorated with 12 enormous Christmas trees, holly, and mistletoe, and suits of armor sing Christmas carols. Fairies fly around Christmas trees. Professor Albus Dumbledore gives Harry the Cloak of Invisibility. It once belonged to Harry’s deceased father.

A chilling backstory piques Harry’s interest. The young boy’s birth parents were good wizards and killed by an evil wizard named Voldemort. The evil wizard wants to kill Harry Potter. A prophesy claims Harry will become more powerful than the villain.

The potion master, Severus Snape, has motives of villainous mischief. Harry learns Snape wants to steal something valuable guarded by a three-headed dog.

Good Wizards, Hobbits, elves, and dwarves, are popular characters at Christmas time. The Hobbit Frodo endures a perilous journey in Lord of the Rings.He inherits an ancient ring from his father that was forged by a dark lord named Sauron. The ring has power to take control over all the people in Middle-earth. Frodo is accompanied by friends and journeys to Mt. Doom. He wants to destroy the ring by dropping it in the eternal fires of a volcano, the crack of doom.

Sauron the evil wizard threatens Middle Earth

Lord of the Rings
Lord of the Rings | Source

Evil Santa Clauses

Is it immoral to portray Santa Clause as a psychotic killer in Christmas horror films?

See results

Christmas horror stories

Never Fear - Christmas Terrors: He sees you when you're sleeping ...
Never Fear - Christmas Terrors: He sees you when you're sleeping ...

The anthology of Christmas horror tales combine themes of our favorite holidays, Christmas and Halloween. 22 Tales of Christmas Terror include backgrounds from ancient Iceland to contemporary Iraq. N.Y. Times Bestselling and award-winning authors include: Heather Graham, F. Paul Wilson, and Thomas F. Monteleone.


Off-beat commercial Xmas horror

Santa’s elves are characterized as strange little men and evil boys in dark Christmas stories. Traditionally, parents tell their children that Santa Claus comes down the chimney every Christmas Eve and delivers presents. But elves usually don’t accompany him. They stay at the North Pole and are given credit for helping Santa make toys. Little children could react frightened if they actually saw an elf. Elves have strange physical characteristics. There is one horror movie, Elves (1989), that experiments with a Nazi experiment in which selective breeding creates elves during Christmas time. They grow into an evil super army and a renegade Santa Claus must stop them.

A few horror movies have abused the good name of Jolly Saint Nick. What is more frightening than watching Santa Clause jump out of the dark as an ax killer? Slasher movies aren’t ashamed to disguise their bloody murderers as Santa Claus. Christmas Evil (1980) is a great example. Santa’Sleigh (2005) features a demon that loses a bet with an angel and must dress up as Santa and deliver toys to kids. Once the bet is over with, the demon terrorizes people again.

Black Christmas (1974) takes place during a sorority house Christmas break in which a frightening killer makes obscene phone calls and murders sisters of the household.

Don’t Open Till Christmas (1984) is a story about a psychopath murdering different men dressed up as Santa Claus.

Jack Frost (1996) is a serial killer genetically mutated into a monstrous snowman that kills people. He seeks revenge against an arresting sheriff.


A Christmas Carol and How the Grinch Stole Christmas are stories targeted for the holiday season and have similar themes. There is no doubt that the Grinch was inspired from Charles Dickens' classic novel. Most Disney animated films are tailor made for Christmas time. All fantasy films we love to watch today all started from folk tales and many of them became popularized as fairy tales. Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter are magical movies; they are holiday favorites but not entirely written for the purpose of celebrating Christmas. Horror film production companies seek opportunities to lure theater goers during the holiday season. They takes risks with famous beloved Christmas icons. Villainous Santa Clauses have already been included in many horror movies. Developing fresh horror Christmas movies is a challenge.


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    • rebelogilbert profile imageAUTHOR

      Gilbert Arevalo 

      4 years ago from Hacienda Heights, California

      I was fortunate to play the ghost of Scrooge's partner. It was a fun community theater experience in Walnut, California. Thanks for looking in, Colleen.

    • Colleen Swan profile image

      Colleen Swan 

      4 years ago from County Durham

      Hi Gilbert, I have always loved A Christmas Carol and other books by Dickens. As a child I was fortunate in having a teacher who helped us put on a play of A Christmas Carol; I think that was my introduction to literature, and I will always be grateful. Colleen

    • rebelogilbert profile imageAUTHOR

      Gilbert Arevalo 

      4 years ago from Hacienda Heights, California

      Thank you, Larry. I remember you had good creative fun with the Grinch.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      4 years ago from Oklahoma

      Wonderful analysis.


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