Silent Night Deadly Night (1984)
PLOT - 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.
LOWDOWN - I'm a little stunned that I've never reviewed this movie before. Looking back on past posts, the Silent Night Deadly Night series is a favorite of mine. I've reviewed part III, and part V in the past, and now it's time to focus on the original. The movie that started it all.
I have a fond memory of being in the third grade. It was black history month, and each student had to pick an African American who made a difference in history. I chose Percy Julian (why is beyond me, but I guess I felt it was a good idea) Well, I remember I made it my mission to memorize the entire speech of facts I was given without having to look at my note cards since parents were watching the day we had to get up and talk. For hours, over and over again I studied the speech and as a reward my mother went to the video store and rented Silent Night Deadly Night for me. I'll never forget how awesome the video cover looked with the killer Santa climbing out of the chimney with the axe. Well long story short, I ended up being the only kid in the 3rd grade who didn't need to look at their notes AND Silent Night Deadly Night quickly became one of my favorite slashers to re-rent over and over again.
Cut to me in the 8th grade, I was shopping with my then boyfriend and best friend and we strolled into Suncoast. There I noticed the double pack for Silent Night Deadly Night 1 &2! Not believing my luck I bought it and had the pleasure of watching them every holiday season, even though I was a little floored by how awful part 2 was. Guess my young brain just couldn't adjust to how truly awesome it was.
Years later I sorta made it a tradition of watching the original Silent Night Deadly Night over and over again around the holidays. In fact for the longest time I would always watch it Christmas Eve. I found the stories of how much trouble it got when it was first released interesting, and loved pretty much every single thing about it. As time passed and I watched and fell in love with the sequels, my heart stayed true to how awesome of a horror movie the original truly was.
What makes Silent Night Deadly Night work is that first it was 1984, the first round of the slasher era was coming to a close as another began. This was the year A Nightmare On Elm Street was released and slasher movies were trying to pick new ideas that were flesh, but still worked. Having all ready done Halloween, and birthdays with Happy Birthday To Me, they decided to cash in on another famous holiday.
I love holiday themed slashers (Halloween, Terror Train, New Years Eve Evil, Bloody Birthday, Happy Birthday To Me, ect) so it would only make sense that Christmas was the next holiday to get the treatment. In fact before the only other movie to tackle this day was Black Christmas in the early 70's. Silent Night Deadly Night was smartly written. Going into the psycholigical way with this movie, it opened with how a series of horrible tragic events truly twisted and turned a young innocent boy into the murdering blood thirty psycho he would grow up to become. I'm sure I'm not the only person who was scared to death of the crazy grandfather who told the tale of how Santa punishes anyone who is naughty.
The entire orphange segment in the movie was very tough, here are these two young boys who pretty much witnessed their parents get murdered and are now left under the abuse of a nun who doesn't see how truly disturbed they can become. The rest of the movie shows one of the boys, now 18 on his own and working at a toy store. Well of course when it's Christmas time, and he starts seeing guys dressed as Santa, and decerations hanging everywhere he begins to loose it. Flashes and memories come back to that night he saw his parents killed and after being forced to play Santa for his job, he snaps and goes on a bloody rampage, punishing anyone who gets in his way.
I felt they could have maybe added in a few more deaths if that makes any sense. I did like the famous Linnea Quigley scene who has the most memorible death, or of course the kid getting his head chopped off while sledding. I honestly could have watched a three hour movie with this guy running around in the Santa suit killing anyone he felt was being naughty. I loved the shot after the kid gets his head cut off, and how Billy is just standing there in the woods smiling.
With some great deaths, gore, and a wonderful build up, Silent Night Deadly Night is a great horror movie as well as a wonderful slasher. Like I said it was very well written, unlike so many slasher released at that time. There was a good reason why this killer snapped, and the backstory fit why this series of events happened. Sadly due to marketing, and a bunch of parents with sticks up their asses, the movie pretty much got black listed. Thankfuly, now it's a cult classic that we all know and love.
In fact it got the remake treatment just last year! (still haven't seen it but heard great things!)
With four sequels, and plenty of fan love, Silent Night Deadly Night remains as one of the best slasher films released it in's era, which also has one of the best cliffhangers ever, sadly the pay off for it's sequel...not so great.