I’m not exactly sure why I get myself into these situations. Oh, I know HOW I do it. I just open my mouth and…hey now…
I did a set of movie reviews for the Child’s Play series a while back. And as much fun as I had with that one (truly, it was as much fun as pouring lemon juice on my eyeballs, I swear) I figured this series would be fun AND holiday appropriate!
Welcome to the Silent Night, Deadly Night series review. I plan to do one a day so we can share the journey together right up to Christmas Eve where I’m about 98% sure I will crucify myself so to remember the true meaning of the season.
What? Everyone must know that I do this so they don’t have to. I’m doing it FOR you. Just like Jesus.
Our journey begins with Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984). Picture it – a young, happy couple with their two children driving across the countryside to visit Grandpa for Christmas. Granted, Pappy’s in a mental facility and just sits there, uncommunicative. That is until the folks leave the room and then he proceeds to scare the shit out of Billy by telling him Santa comes to punish all bad little boys and girls. Since Billy ain’t too sure he’s been good ALL year, Grandpa warns him he’ll have to RUN FOR HIS LIFE!!!
What the hell, grandpa?
Naturally, on their way home, Billy urges his parents not to stop for Santa whose car has broken down on the side of the road. But when do any adults ever listen to little kids in these movies, amirite? Too bad because this Santa has no qualms about killing dad, attempting to rape mom but slits her throat instead when she fights back. Billy is witness to this all from his hiding place on the side of the road.
So Billy and little bro, Ricky, end up at an orphanage run by the coldest nun I’ve ever seen. Instead of trying to help Billy work through the horrors he’s seen, Mother Superior basically uses the “rub some dirt in it” philosophy: just stop being a pussy and get over it. It seems to work and when Billy gets out into the world all grown up and handsome and muscly and…uh…what was I saying? Oh yeah. He gets along with people, is a great worker, nice guy…until he’s forced to dress as Santa for a work party.
The ensuing killing spree is epic and eventually drives Billy back to the orphanage to confront Mother Superior.
As this is from 1984, you can imagine the camp and cheese factor are high. But that makes it so much fun. It’s a relatively simple premise (kids witnesses Santa kill his family and that scars him for life). And what comes out of it is the perfect killer when combined with the treatments of suppression and abuse. Billy would have made a great character study on Criminal Minds!
Sure there are parts that seem convenient just to up the body count but who cares? If the writers have to throw in a couple bullies being douchenozzles so Billy can chop them up, so be it. If I gotta see Linnea Quigley bare her boobs to the cold night air so Billy can see she’s been naughty in order to punish her on a set of antlers, then I’m okay with that.
Yeah, some of the writing is a bit lazy. It’s a little convenient that the lead detective knows Billy is a young man but fails to let the cops on duty know that before telling them to SHOOT AND KILL any Santas running around on Christmas (because that wouldn’t be a lot or anything). It was just an easy way for the authorities to waste time and not stop Billy before the body count got too high.
But all faults aside, I love this film. It was probably the first Christmas horror I really remember watching (aside from A Christmas Carol – don’t tell me the Ghost of Christmas Future isn’t terrifying as fuck). The practical effects are awesome and the kills aren’t all that gory, just insanely enjoyable. The acting is decent (Britt Leach and Lilyan Chauvin did tons of television and films over the years) and the overall feel of the film sucks you in and you become invested in the characters and their lives.
4 Hatchets (out of 5)
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s review of Silent Night, Deadly Night: Part 2