Best Cold Weather Horror Movies Set in the Snow

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Best Cold Weather Horror Movies Set in the Snow

Weather, and particularly snow, depict a character’s points in time. A change of season will bring a change of perspective, perhaps, as Christmas ushers in togetherness and gifts, while the autumnal gloom of Fall and Halloween has entirely different connotations. Outside the Christmas timeframe, snow can represent more than a quite literal coldness, like loneliness.


Hoth, the ice planet in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, does something similar. The last we had seen of this world, the ultimate weapon in the Death Star has been destroyed, but the middle chapter of the original trilogy introduces our characters as uncertain and unstable on this desolate planet inhabited by horrible monsters and their dark caves. It’s a great instance of frosty, chilly settings being used for darker, more ominous themes.

Below, we rank some of our favorite snow-covered horror movies.

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9 Batman Returns (1992)

Warner Bros.

Although Batman Returns is not technically a horror movie per se, there is more than enough of Tim Burton’s gothic sensibilities for us to sneak it in here. Following the rip-roaring hijinks of Jack Nicholson’s Joker in the previous film, this sequel has a sense of upping the ante with three times the villains, and it is worth it.

Related: Planet of the Apes: Why Tim Burton “Would Rather Jump Out a Window” Than Make a Sequel

With exceptional performances from Danny DeVito as Penguin and Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman, this is Tim Burton at his most dark and most playful. Gotham City feels even colder blanketed in snow in this darkest of fairytales.

8 The Abominable Snowman (of the Himalayas) (1957)

The Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas
20th Century Fox

From stalwarts of creepy Hammer Films comes a swashbuckling adventure in the Himalayas in search of the ever-elusive yeti in The Abominable Snowman. With support from Star Wars‘ own Peter Cushing, this one is atmospheric, slow, and measured, and the scenery still looks fantastic. Nowhere near Hammer’s best, it should definitely be watched by any fans of creepy 1950s sci-fi horror.

7 Dead Snow (2009)

Dead Snow
Euforia Film

Sort of Evil Dead but Swedish, Dead Snow sees the typical setup of a group of young folk traveling to a cabin in the middle of nowhere and then being attacked by all manner of horrible things. What is it this time? Nazi zombies. Blood hits the snow so wonderfully here in this clash of red on white, with chainsaws, fantastic practical effects, and a twisted sense of humor. Dead Snow director Tommy Wirkola returned to snowy bloodshed in last year’s Violent Night, which saw Santa fight burglars.

6 Gremlins (1984)

Gremlins 1984
Warner Bros.

As Darlene Love’s Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) roars out in the film’s opener to reveal the town of Kingston Falls (the same set as Back to The Future no less), so begins Gremlins and the perfect Christmas/Not Christmas film. Bringing his son home a creature called a mogwai, Billy doesn’t listen to the rules that come with it and all breaks loose in the town as Gremlins run amok. The movie is peak ’80s horror/comedy with fantastic puppetry and a sinister sense of humor.

5 The Grey (2011)

Liam Neeson The Grey
Open Road Films

As Liam Neeson was in his older action star mold following Taken, so came The Grey, one of the bleakest action films in recent memory. From producer Adi Shankar (Dredd, Castlevania) came this fantastically tense man vs. nature epic. Neeson works in the role so well as a man just desperately trying to survive as a pack of wolves hunts down him and the rest of the survivors from a plane crash. Watching The Grey brings the wonderful side effect of the visuals actually making you feel cold, so wrap up tight for this one.

4 30 Days of Night (2007)

30 Days of Night
Sony Pictures Releasing 

In what could have been a one-note idea about a village in Alaska that gets no sunlight and is assaulted by vampires comes a genuinely trim, effective, and physical horror movie. Josh Hartnett shows his leading man credentials here as the sheriff just trying his best to get through the night. At its best, 30 Days of Night has a George A. Romero energy to it. The most impressive thing is that the town itself was built practically and is really just one big fake set. The movie is based on a comic book by Steve Niles.

3 Black Christmas (1974)

Black Christmas 1974
Warner Bros.

Unknown to far too many film fans, Black Christmas is so nasty that it has to be seen to be believed. A sorority is being terrorized by a caller who keeps talking in inaudible and horrifying messages… and then the murders start. The movie has some connections to Scream and Gremlins, like that the main characters in both are named Billy, the same name mentioned in the phone calls.

Perfectly capturing the small-town ideals and remaining tense from start to finish this is a seminal Christmas horror movie that is genuinely terrifying. It stars John Saxon (Nightmare on Elm Street) and Superman‘s Margot Kidder, who is even feistier here than in her Lois Lane role, and believe it or not, was directed by the same man behind perennial Christmas classic, A Christmas Story.

2 The Shining (1980)

Jack Nicholson in The Shining
Warner Bros.

A scenic family trip away while a father looks after a closed hotel and works on his book sounds delightful if it weren’t in the hands of Stanley Kubrick. The walls are closing in as Jack (Jack Nicholson) and the rest of the family begin to see things that shouldn’t be there in the empty hotel.

Related: The Shining: Explaining the Many Fan Theories and Analysis

With its grand halls and never-ending corridors though, anything could be out there. Kubrick has flirted with horror in pretty much all of his previous flicks, but this one straight-up takes the genre to bed and offers it champagne.

1 The Thing (1982)

Kurt Russell in The Thing
Universal Pictures

As one of the few movies that provide an excuse for remakes’ existence, John Carpenter took on producer Howard Hawks’ original The Thing from Another World and gave it the ’80s paranoia and special effects. The result really is something so dark, so brilliant, and so much fun that it remains one of the greatest horror movies ever made.

A research center is infiltrated by an alien that survives via a host, taking over the crew one by one and pitting them all against one another.The Thing’s setting with a snowstorm outside makes this the ideal place for what is hidden away inside, waiting to be released.

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