Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
Billy’s lunatic grandfather tells him that Santa Claus punishes naughty children. Billy’s parents are then murdered by a guy dressed as Santa Claus. Billy then goes to the orphanage where he just wants to be left alone; instead, Mother Superior torments him. Things come to a head years later when Billy is required to dress up as Santa Claus as part of his new job in a Toy store – he goes mental and starts killing ‘naughty’ people all over the place.
First up, I love the tagline for this film: ” You’ve made it through Halloween, now try and survive Christmas!”
Genuinely one of the more interesting slasher films of the 80s. The whole thing about Santa Claus stalking a town with blunt instruments rather than presents is just cool.
The film starts off quite well and honestly should receive some merit for attempting to put together a plot which, actually, is quite engaging. The director pulls this off because by the end of the movie, Billy is by far the most sympathetic 80s slasher maniac I can think of (I, for one, never felt sorry for Michael Myers!). In addition, there are some well-done (and innovative) death sequences – and let’s face it, most of these movies can and should be judged on these scenes – including a fantastically shot set-piece of a woman being impaled on wall-mounted antlers. Gore is ample (there is a nasty de-capitation on a sled) and the soundtrack is pretty good too.
Contrary to what you might hear about this movie, the acting is not that bad – at least when you compare it with other similar movies in the same genre. But what the film lacks is a lead character, a scream queen if you like, such as Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween (1978)/Prom Night (1980).
Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) is also of interest because of the storm it caused on release. The film opened on the same weekend as Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) and surprisingly out-grossed the first instalment in the Freddy series. But by the second week, an increasing number of parents were picketing the movie and protesting about the idea of a killer Santa Claus. (To express their own sense of feeling about the substance of this film, famous US critics Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel slated the film by reading out each cast member’s name and shouting “shame”). Tristar pictures then pulled the film from theatres in response to these protests.
In summary, a competent slasher film which some nice touches. Furthermore, of general interest for those interested in the history of horror cinema.
hotdog rating: 5/10 – but for slasher fans it has to be an 8/10