Joshua Miller | Coeur d'Alene,ID | 04/06/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"If anything is learned from Silent Night, Deadly Night it's this: rip off the pretty boys' shirt before throwing him out of the two-story window.
The cover of this movie screams "hordes of angry mothers couldn't keep it away!" This is further proof that controversy will keep something alive longer than it ever would've been as well as giving it a much bigger audience than it ever would have received.
Released in 1984, the movie opens on Christmas Eve, 1971. A young boy named Billy, his parents, and their newborn go to see Billy's grandpa at the Utah Mental Facility. Grandpa appears to be a vegetable until Billy's parents are out of the room and Grandpa explains to Billy that Santa punishes boys who aren't good all year. On the drive home, Billy tells his parents what Grandpa said and warns his mother "Santa will punish you."
Soon, the family is waved down by a man dressed as Santa, who proceeds to kill Billy's father and cut his mother's throat after trying to rape her.
Soon, it's 1974 and Billy is at Saint Mary's Home for Orphaned Children. Billy is constantly haunted by the flashbacks of his mother's demise and is constantly getting in trouble with the nuns because of this. Billy catches two young people have totally gratuitous sex and is caught watching them by Mother Superior. She tells Billy (in an example of the film's Oscar-worthy dialogue) that what he has seen "was something very, very naughty. They thought they could do it without being caught. But when we do something naughty, we are always caught, and than we are punished. Punishment is absolute. Punishment is necessary. Punishment is good."
Later, in a hilarious scene, Billy is forced to sit on Santa's lap and opts to punch him in the face instead.
Ten years later, 1984; Billy (now played by Robert Brian Wilson), all grown up and resembling a Playgirl model, is given a job at Ira's Toys.
Cue cheesy musical montage that illustrates Billy's diligence as an employee.
When Christmas comes around, Billy's attitude changes and his flashbacks begin to affect his work, relationships, sexual fantasies, and this viewer's patience. Of course, Billy is soon given the job of store Santa Clause...And soon Billy becomes a homicidal maniac. And one of the nuns is informed of Billy's new job.
Cue ominous music and freeze-frame close-up.
Finally, no horrible 80s horror movie is complete without the sexually promiscuous babysitter and the boyfriend who has an entire portfolio of embarrassing sexual innuendoes.
One death scene in Silent Night, Deadly Night (it involves deer horns) is creative but there's little creativity anywhere else.
The acting is bad of course. Wilson could barely be convincing as a dumb, stoned, jock character let alone a homicidal Santa Clause. When he's in the suit for the first time, his voice, while talking to the little girl on his lap is creepy. Not "menacing" creepy, but "pedophile" creepy. You'll cringe when he says "you're being naughty" to the little girl. Yelling "punish!" everytime he kills someone doesn't help either.
The script, by Michael Hickey, is ludicrous. Bad dialogue, way too many flashbacks (to the SAME EVENT!), etc.
Due to the film being uncut there is a noticeable change in picture quality in several scenes. It's like watching a DVD, blinking, and suddenly watching a VHS. It's not too annoying though.
Finally, the score by Perry Botkin is your typical 80s piano and synthesizer fare.
This movie has no suspense, no jolts, no (intentional) comic relief, and nothing remotely frightening. The most timid, easily frightened 5-year-old will not lose any sleep because of this movie. Why 3 stars then? Because it doesn't take itself seriously. It knows it's bad, it's OK with being bad; it's almost good because of how bad it is. Its acceptance of its mediocrity saves it from one-star reviews and from drifting into the oblivion of forgotten movies. The fact that its sequel has the "Garbage day!" scene (a sort of internet phenomenon) doesn't hurt either. This movie was so controversial when it was released and if you see the movie you'll laugh at how stupid it was for people to be angered by this movie. It's completely ludicrous.
I can't recommend it per se, but I can't say "not worth your time" either. It's entertaining, short (82 minutes), and is actually better than most recent horror films. I expected something much more unbearable. If you can get the joke, see the movie.
Brought a fitting close to the original slasher era
Tom P. the Underground Navigator | Park Forest, IL USA | 12/28/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"On his awesome U.K. slasher movie website www.hysteria-lives.co.uk, Justin Kerswell estimates the golden age of the slasher movie to be between 1978 (when "Halloween" premiered) and 1984 (the year "Nightmare On Elm Street" debuted). One highly controversial entry not to be forgotten (and not to be missed) is the latter year's "Silent Night Deadly Night," which opened in theaters on November 9, 1984. Heralded by a classic movie poster (preserved well and reproduced exactly for this excellent 2007 Anchor Bay release) and the even more famous and little seen TV spots (featuring Santa with an axe warning the audience that punishment would befall the "naughty"), this film was an instant success and earned back its relatively meager budget and then some almost immediately. Unfortunately, its run in theaters proved to be short-lived, due to the widespread protests from concerned parents outraged over the TV spots, which were reportedly accessible by young children, as well as what they saw to be a blatant defamation of a sacred event (Christmas).
One must remember that "Silent Night Deadly Night" was marketed by a major studio (Tri-Star) and was playing in the same theaters as the usual banal mainstream family fare. The studio soon caved into the pressure and the TV ads and the film were pulled before the movie even opened on the west coast.
Thankfully, it would soon find a new audience when it hit video store shelves the following year. I was only 9 in 1984 when "Silent Night Deadly Night" was released and I still remember the original oversized video box promising unimaginable horrors to an unsuspecting viewer. But the box DID also state that the film was for mature audiences only and this is definitely true. It is an exploitation film after all and a sometimes very graphic one at that.
That's why, almost 25 years later, it was great to view this movie as an adult in its pure, uncut form. I remember viewing a relatively muddy VHS rental copy almost 10 years ago and I must say that this Anchor Bay DVD print is a thousand times better, almost looking brand new again.
The film itself is a delight to behold for the seasoned slasher movie fan, with abundant gore, sex, nudity and a trifle bit of the sleaze promised on the purposely exaggerated DVD cover.
At the same time, this movie is far more well done than most of the homemade slashers that appeared only a few years before in great numbers. It is well photographed, with a strong, attractive cast and the gore effects are top notch as well. This one truly does deliver the goods. Being as explicit as it is though it is again NOT a film for children or even the more sensitive adult viewer.
Anchor Bay again did a fabulous job on this reissue. The film had been out of print for a good five years, as it was previously released as a double feature with its far inferior sequel (one of four to be made!) that came out three years later. My favorite part is the audio interview with director Charles E. Sellier, Jr. It offers his recollections about the making of the film and the ensuing controversy that followed. Sellier comes off here as a very genuine, well spoken guy and is clearly not the schlock-meister that irate parents at the time may have deemed him to be. The man after all had previously even done some work in Christian television programming!
Strangely enough, I'm a Christian too but also a lifelong lover of underground music and films, and I find "Silent Night Deadly Night" to be a very entertaining movie, and one of the last great slasher films to be made. Highly recommended."
Great 80's horror
TouchDown | USA | 03/15/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Now, I really enjoyed this movie.
The first time I saw it was back in the 80's when it just came out on VHS. It really scared me. So, I decided to buy this movie and get back those old memories of watching it with my then best friend.
Well, I still really liked this one. I thought the little boy who portrayed Billy in the beginning was so likeable. I enjoyed all the characters and thought the movie was great & very entertaining.
Totally recommend this one for 80's horror fans :)"