- on Thursday, 18 September 2014 13:42
- by Loron Hays
Released in 1984, Charles E. Sellier Jr’s Silent Night, Deadly Night did for Christmas what John Carpenter did for trick or treating: memorialize the day with a seriously twisted flick. While not as popular as the coveted Halloween franchise, Sellier’s movie definitely does not disappoint b-movie enthusiasts longing for a grisly time of merrymaking. After all, seeing Santa maim unlucky teenagers with a blood-speckled axe is just as wondrously disturbing as Michael Meyers hidden behind a Captain Kirk mask.
Silent Night, Deadly Night begins inauspiciously enough with a family trip to see a catatonic Grandpa in an old folks home. When the parents around; however, the spooky old patriarch yanks Billy to his side and warns him that Santa is coming and he doesn’t like bad people so, if he sees him, he should run away. “So be good for goodness sake” or something cheery like that.
Meanwhile, in another part of town, a criminal – dressed in Santa gear – is planning a night of mayhem. His crime spree starts with a confrontation in a gas station and is about to cross paths with Billy and his parents, leaving Billy with a permanent Santa scar. We’re talking murder and rape, right before Billy and his baby brother’s eyes. Deck the halls with parts of Charlie indeed.
Billy (Robert Brian Wilson) grows into a strapping young man under the strict eye of the nuns at the local orphanage. Encouraged by the Sisters, he lands his first job (and is successful as evident by the hysterically funny thumbs-up montage) inside a toy store where he stocks the shelves and silently dreads the upcoming Christmas season. Soon there will be reminders of his Santa slaying past everywhere.
Little does he know that the department store manager (Britt Leach) wants him to play Santa for all the eager kiddos ready to share their wants with the visitor from the North Pole. After being mistreated by a female staff member (Toni Nero) who leads him on, Billy begins to slip under the pressure. This is the night Billy, completely in Santa suit, completely flips his lid and begins his own murderous rampage.
Written by Paul Caimi and Michael Hickey, Silent Night, Deadly Night is a warped darling of the underground. It is an extremely low-budget shoot and the acting might be comical but none of that stops its vision of Christmas carnage beneath the mistletoe. It has all the horror staples one would expect – the classic set-up, the nudity, the blood, the guts, etc. - but delivers them with some head-spinning moments of maniacal glee worthy of a visit to the therapist’s chair.
This is a film that elicits all sorts of reactions. Some are mortified by the violence and rape; the horrible acting turns others off. Either way, you have to know what you are in for when the picture digs its heels in and delivers one wacky character after another. Silent Night, Deadly Night earned horrible reviews in its original release. The sequels that followed garnered worse. It might not be the prettiest of wrapped presents beneath the Christmas tree but it is the bloodiest and surely that has to count for something with someone.
MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime: 79 mins
Director: Charles E. Sellier Jr.
Writer: Michael Hickey
Cast: Lilyan Chauvin, Gilmer McCormick, Toni Nero
Genre: Horror | Thriller
Tagline: You've made it through Halloween, now try and survive Christmas
Memorable Movie Quote: "Mommy, you shouldn't have said that. It's naughty to say bad things about old people. Santa Claus will punish you!"
Distributor: TriStar Pictures
Release Date: November 9, 1984
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: September 16, 2014
Synopsis: After his parents are murdered, a young tormented teenager goes on a murderous rampage dressed as Santa, due to his stay at an orphanage where he was abused by the Mother Superior.
Available on Blu-ray - September 16, 2014
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region Encoding: A/1
Released by Anchor Bay, the 1080p transfer of this ragged film looks good enough. There are several scenes added back into the film and they look rough as hell. We just have to be happy that Anchor Bay is even releasing the film on blu and didn’t go crazy with digital noise reduction and make a mess of it. All is not lost, though. There is a noticeable difference between this disc and the last DVD release as the colors are brighter and the picture all around more crisp and detailed. The sound is presented in an adequate only mono track.
- It’s the commentary track that makes this one a must-own for fans of this cult classic. On the track are writer Michael Hickey, editor/2nd unit director Michael Spence, producer Scott. J. Schneid and composer Perry Botkin. There are good stories told and memories shared covering things like the film’s origins, the shooting locations, the theatrical protests and what the guys like/don’t like about the movie.
Ported over from the DVD release is a 35-minute audio interview with late director Charles E. Sellier Jr., an 11-image poster & still gallery and the 22-image ‘Santa’s Stocking of Outrage’ featurette. Why is this great? Because the gallery contains actual letters sent in by parents and protestors during the height of the film’s controversy and it’s absolutely fascinating to read those hilarious reactions. Other than the commentary, there is nothing new.
- Charles E. Sellier Jr. Interview (35 min)
- Still Gallery
- Santa’s Stocking of Outrage