Silent Night, Deadly Night
You've made it through Halloween, now try and survive Christmas.
Year of Release: 1984
Rated: Not Rated
Running Time: 85 minutes (1:25)
Director: Charles E. Sellier Jr.
Robert Brian Wilson ... Billy at 18
Lilyan Chauvin ... Mother Superior
Gilmer McCormick ... Sister Margaret
Toni Nero ... Pamela
Britt Leach ... Mr. Sims
Nancy Borgenicht ... Mrs. Randall
Danny Wagner ... Billy at 8
Jonathan Best ... Billy at 5
Linnea Quigley ... Denise
Charles Dierkop ... Killer Santa
Alex Burton ... Brother (Ricky) at 14
Max Broadhead ... Brother (Ricky) at 4
Melissa Best ... Infant Ricky
Bearing the emotional scars of a young boy who has seen his mother and father brutally murdered by a savage killer in a Santa Claus costume, 18-year-old Billy explodes into a lethal frenzy when he's asked to put on a Santa Claus suit himself to entertain the customers of the department store where he works. Reminded of the tragic events that have marked his life, Billy embarks on a killing rampage that is as ghastly, and controversial, as anything ever seen on film.
Silent Night, Deadly Night, remindin' everybody that middle aged fat men who play dress up so little kids'll squirm around in their laps might not be the most trustworthy of individuals. I don't mean to be cynical, but best case scenario you've got a guy so down on his luck that he's willin' to listen to entitled little yard monsters bitch about how he got 'em the wrong toy last year, only to head home at the end of his shift an try to wring the kids' natural bodily functions outta the outfit that he's now almost certain to lose his deposit on. So if any of you parents out there actually believe in the spirit of givin', next time you're at the mall takin' the kids to see Santa, maybe think about the guy who sits there all day long hearin' about what everybody else wants for a minute an sneak 'im in some vodka in a Starbucks cup or somethin'. Now I think most everybody that's familiar with this one has a pretty good idea about who hates is so I'm not gonna go into detail on that right this second. I think they've all gotten their comeuppance at this point anyway. You don't just get a classic slasher movie yanked outta the theaters unpunished, sooner or later karma catches up with you in the form of Santa Claus killer copy cat movies like Santa Claws an Santa's Slay. That's where your self righteous attitudes got ya, four sequels an a gaggle of painful pretenders after the fact. Look at what you did. LOOK AT IT. But bein' that it's Christmas an all, I did have a public service announcement I wanted to get to once I run down a few of the more essential learnin' opportunities that this fine example of holiday cheer has to offer; so stick around for that, cause I just may save your pitiful little life here in a minute. The first bit of wisdom that Silent Night, Deadly Night has to offer is on the financial front, an with everybody havin' to max out all our credit cards to show everybody else how much we love 'em, this couldn't have come at a better time. I'm a little ashamed to admit that I hadn't thought about this before now but you can actually save the money you'd normally spend on a dominatrix just by goin' to a nunnery an confessin' to bein' naughty. Those cranky, bitter old hags'll have their belts off an snappin' your flesh like Simon Belmont in no time flat. The safe words, by the way, are "Hallelujah, I been SAVED!" Second, always remember to cork the antlers on any game racks you may have mounted in your house, cause if the babysitter ends up gettin' impaled on 'em while you're photocopyin' your ass at the company Christmas party, you'll be financially ruined before Phil in customer service can even get sloshed enough to loudly tell the boss exactly what he thinks about 'im. An third, exposure therapy pretty much always works. Except when it turns people into serial killers.
But what I think really needs to be addressed in regards to the holiday season is the cripplin' depression that seems to take hold in a lot of people this time of year. I'll never understand these people that eyeball the light string an try goadin' themselves into finally havin' the guts to do it this time. Depression is one thing, I mean, after Black Friday's over an you've seen the worst that society has to offer, that part actually makes perfect sense. But killin' yourself really ain't the answer, cause first of all that'll just result in some jerk like me makin' fun of you for it, but more importantly than that, there's an excellent form of therapy available to help you cope with these kinda feelins. Now, say you're on your way to the liquor store to pick up dinner an you see this real happy family out in their yard laughin' an havin' a great time buildin' a snowman together. This makes you start thinkin' about how you ain't got nobody on account of how unpleasant you are an that feelin' of bein' the turd in the societal punchbowl starts creepin' up like a pair of underwear that're three sizes too small. But hold it right there, don't let that misery monkey pelt you with a glob of metaphorical fecal matter. Lets analyze this, alright? You were perfectly fine until you saw those people havin' fun an enjoyin' each other's company, right? Well, seems to me like all you really need to do is make 'em all a little bit less jovial. In fact, you're not sad at all. Everybody else is just too dang HAPPY. So what you do now is gun the engine up to about 55 an nail that big slush pile right by the curb an drench the holiday cheer right out of 'em. They don't look so happy now, do they? Feel better now, don't ya? See, you may not have anything or anyone to cheer yourself up with, but there's endless ways to make happy people feel terrible. They have so much happiness in their lives, surely it wouldn't do any harm to leach just a little bit off of 'em when they least expect it. So the next time you start feelin' gloomy an thinkin' about havin' an X-acto Christmas, just push those dismal thoughts outta your mind an head down to Target an start tellin' all the kids that Santa ain't real an that the fat guy in the chair's really just some wino that's morbidly obese cause all he can afford is food offa the McDonald's Dollar Menu. It is the season of sharin' after all, so I'm glad I could share with all of you just a few helpful methods for chasin' the holiday blues away. I mean, it's either that or takin' a long hard look in the mirror, pullin' our heads outta our asses, an makin' a concerted effort to be decent human beins, an who the heck wants any parta that?
The movie begins with a white bread American family that looks like they just walked out of a sitcom from the 1950s drivin' out to see Grandpa for Christmas. So over the river an through the woods to Gramp's padded cell in the nut hut they go, an when they arrive Gramps is hangin' out in the activity room with the thousand year stare. The doctors explain to the parents that he's in what's called a "catatonic" state, which for the laymen out there is like what happens to a person after watchin' Full House for about three minutes. So the parents leave the kid alone with Gramps for a minute to speak to the administrator about settin' up a payment plan based upon how often the old guy hits the medical alert button in his room when all the sudden Gramps swivels his head around like a disoriented owl an turns his gaze squarely on the kid an proceeds to give 'em the straight skinny on Santa Claus. In Gramps' version, Christmas is the scariest day of the year cause Santa only leaves gifts for the kids that've got a spotless rap sheet, the others, he punishes with a Joe Apaio-esque glee. So if the kid sees Santa, he basically needs to run like a corporate investor from the Tea Party an once storytime's over the old coot starts cacklin' like the wicked witch of the west til the parents walk back in an he reverts back to bein' a Wal Mart door greeter. On the way home, the kid tells Mom what Gramps said about Santa an she ends up tellin' 'im not to pay any attention to Gramps cause he's nuttier than Aunt Ethel's fruit cake that ends up thrown in the trash can every year. Elsewhere, a guy dressed up like Santa Claus is robbin' a Stuckey's an ends up shootin' the clerk for the $31 he's got in the register. Cripes, good thing this is 1984, if this had taken place now he'da actually lost money after puttin' three bullets in the guy. Later that night, the family's still on their way home when they come across Santa, who's pulled over on the shoulder tryin' to get the sleigh to crank an the kid starts goin' ape shit tellin' 'em not to stop. They stop anyway, an Santa explains that he got cheap an dropped the AAA coverage on the sleigh an outta nowhere starts pumpin' rounds into Dad who flops onto the ground like Bill Laimbeer, at which point Santa starts yankin' off Mom's blouse while the kid takes off into the woods. Mom's not really into this creepy dress up roleplayin' thing though, an after slappin' Santa right in his jolly kisser he pops 'er back an 'er throat ends up gettin' cut quicker'n Eddie Deezen at rugby tryouts.
He searches around for the kid briefly, but with the realization that he's gonna end up on Real Stories of the Highway Patrol if he don't get outta Dodge pretty quick enterin' his mind he settles for yellin' psychologically traumatizin' comments into the darkness an splits. A few years later, the kid (Billy) and his little brother (Ricky, who was an infant in the previous sequence) are stuck in a penguin house for children that've been discarded by parents who lived in states where nobody'd perform an abortion an the teacher asks Billy to bring up his Christmas drawin' to show to the class. Unfortunately, the nun's a little P.O.'d that Billy still hasn't gotten over that whole watchin' his parents gettin' murdered thing yet an finds his choice of Christmas sentiment to be a bit of a downer. So she sends 'im to Mother Superior who's one of those resentful old bitches that hates everything cause she's takin' 'er hymen to the grave with 'er. She basically tells Billy to go cut 'er a switch an once he's gone another nun (Sister Margaret) tells 'er this drawing is proof that the kid's insane in the membrane an needs to be in therapy to work out his problems. But Mama Super tells 'er that she dunno anything cause she ain't even 80 yet an that the beatins will continue until morale improves. A little later, Margaret springs Billy from solitary an invites 'im outside to play with the other kids, only while he's on his way outside he hears somebody makin' the sign of the triple tongued Gila monster an starts havin' flashbacks of his mom's blouse bein' ripped off while he's peekin' through the keyhole. Unfortunately, Mama Super's felt a great disturbance in the force, as if dozens of voices had cried out in an emotion other than misery an had as not yet been silenced. So when she catches Billy peekin' in the keyhole she shoves 'im away an comes unglued on the fornicators an starts beatin' the bejezus into 'em with 'er belt. Let us pray... that everything that belt was holdin' up stays up. By now, Billy's gone outside, an once Mama Super finds 'im she asks 'im what he saw and if he knew what it was. So he makes like a mobster an tells 'er he ain't seen nothin' an he dunno nothin', which was obviously the correct answer since we're talkin' about sex an religion. She still belts the kid's ass cheeks til it looks like he's got a couple huge plums attached to the top of his legs but she used the belt of triumph instead of the belt of shame this time, so it's all good. But later that night Billy starts havin' night terror flashbacks an ends up runnin' outta his room screamin' an guess who's waitin' with the board of education right down the hall? Oh gross, I think I just saw Mama Super's... figure. I'll be... back.
Alright well, then she ties the kid to his bedposts so he can't leave his room anymore, all the while Billy's beggin' Margaret to grow a fuggin' spine already an help a brother out. But goin' against the grain ain't really a quality most deeply religious people seem to be familiar with, an so she regretfully leaves the kid alone as instructed. The next mornin' is Christmas, an so Mama Super lets Billy come downstairs an open his present an tells Margaret her methods will eventually get through to 'im, an to prove it, she's gonna set 'im on Santa's lap when he comes by later. So if I understand this right, Jews just need to go hang out at the Hitler museum a while an they'll eventually learn to love the man. Well lets see how that goes. A few hours later, Santa arrives. Why Santa's arriving AFTER the gifts have been opened is unclear, but Mama Super ends up draggin' Billy out by the nape of his neck an puttin' 'im on Santa's lap so she can prove how well 'er therapy's workin', only after about five seconds the kid decks the hall with Santa's body an runs up to his room where he starts cowerin' an apologizin' to God, Santa, or both til Mama Super opens the door an growls "boooooooooooy!" like she's Angus Scrimm. Next thing ya know it's 10 years later an Sister Margaret is beggin' this dumpy toy store owner (Mr. Sims) to give Billy a job, but the guy tells 'er that the holiday shoppin' season is no place for a boy an that most of the time he just hires the bouncer from the local bar to try an keep the fist fights to a minimum. But then he gets a look at Billy who's grown from a scrawny brown-haired boy into a hulking blond Norwegian weight lifter that looks like Tommy Gunn from Rocky V an he suddenly remembers the importance of helpin' out the church whenever possible. Everything's fine for awhile, an it would appear that Mama Super's Clockwork Orange-esque aversion therapy has fixed Billy, until Sims breaks out the Santa Claus banner an Billy's eye starts twitchin' like an interior decorator that just saw where you keep your ottoman. Then this little Joe Pesci of a supervisor starts tellin' 'im what a shitty job he's doin' cause the customers actually kinda like 'im an so he has to disengage for a while to try an psychologically cope with the string of curse words he was just exposed to. So he goes into another room an starts daydreamin' about bangin' the employee he's got a crush on, til Santa busts in on his fantasy an slits 'er from head to camel toe an he has to cower in the corner like a toddler in an old folks home fulla old women that're tryin' to pinch his cheeks.
But things really start to go to shit when the store Santa calls in drunk an Sims has to butter Billy up so he'll play Santa for 'im. Pfft, ain't enough butter in Wisconsin to get me into that suit; liquored up, maybe. Anyway, Billy actually pulls off the gig pretty well between the social skills he learned from Mama Super an the cripplin' terror of Santa Claus that Gramps instilled in 'im an while Billy's up in the big guy's chair tellin' the kids he's gonna have his elves kidnap the obnoxious ones in the middle of the night, Margaret calls to check on 'im. Only Joe has to explain that he's been promoted to urine sponge an Margaret gets this look on 'er face like Mama Super just went through 'er stuff an found 'er vibrator. A little later, the store closes up an Sims breaks out the liquor since that's how most Santas prefer to be paid an everybody starts hittin' the bottle like the fist of an angry god. Everybody cept Joe an Billy's crush anyway, cause they've snuck off to the storage room so he can stuff 'er stocking. Billy's P.O.d, an when the now shit-faced Sims claps 'im on the shoulder an tells 'im he'd better sober up cause he's got a long night ahead of 'im (he's still in the Santa suit) he immediately gets to work by goin' back to the storage room an hangin' the mistleJoe with a light string an then carves up the dame like a Christmas goose. Then Sims hears a noise an stumbles back to investigate, an Billy busts his head open like a tree ornament an leaves 'im layin' for the assistant manager to find. It's really no big deal, assistant managers are used to cleanin' up the messes their superiors make. So eventually the assistant finds Sims, who's now both literally and metaphorically hammered an makes a run for it, but just as she's about to smash the window an escape Billy yells at 'er for stompin' on the nativity scene an when she stops to hail Mary in apology he puts an arrow through 'er. Apparently the business is actually Ira's Toys and Sporting Goods. A few minutes later, once Billy's taken off to spread some more holiday cheer, Margaret shows up an finds the corpse an gets sad face cause she knows she's gettin' a lump of coal this year. Elsewhere, Linnea Quigley's babysittin' some little brat an rollin' around on a billiard table with 'er boyfriend, who's poised to put the two ball in the side pocket. He really should use the bridge for this difficult a shot cause women tend to get pretty upset when you sink it in the wrong pocket. But just as the guy gets his cue chalked up the little brat starts comin' downstairs an Linnea has to tell 'er Santa an 'er boyfriend won't come if she doesn't get to bed like right now. The brat goes for it, but then Linnea thinks she hears the cat at the door an... wait, does this make the pussy a cockblocker? Eh, I guess it's not that important.
Anyway, once Linnea bounces upstairs an lets the cat in Billy takes his axe to the door like Jack Torrance an then impales 'er on the eye guards of an elk mount. Nice, now there's two racks on the wall. Seriously though, at least she finally got penetrated. Then the boyfriend comes lookin' for 'er an Billy chokes 'im out with the phone cord for a while an then pitches the guy out the front window like a lawn dart. About that time the brat comes out to talk to Santa an Billy asks 'er if she's been good. She says she has, an since Billy left his naughty/nice list in his other suit he has to take 'er word for it an hands 'er a box cutter. That kid's full of it an you can tell by the look on 'er face, this honor system crap really needs to go. Elsewhere, a couple teenagers're out on a nearby hillside about to try out their new sleds when these two 25 year old fry cooks that still live with their parents come by an gut punch the teens an send 'em packin'. They don't wanna grow up, cause if they did, they might have to get a real job, quit beatin' up people half their size, move outta their parents' houses an worst of all; cease to be Toys 'R Us kids. But anyway, the first guy heads down the hill hootin' an hollerin' like like he's at a hoedown an once he makes snowfall at the bottom of the hill, waits for his fellow lummox to follow. Only when the second guy comes down, Billy jumps outta nowhere like Ninja Claus an chops the guy's head off like an infidel in the holy lands an a few seconds later the body finishes out the ride with the head in tow. Now that's headin' down the hill. Just goes to show ya though, sometimes you free the mind an it still ends up followin' the ass. But anyway, the first kid stands there frozen to the spot (perhaps literally cause he's obviously pissed 'imself an he's too god damn stupid to wear ski pants while sleddin'), screamin' like a vegan who was just served pork salad, til Billy eventually gifts us all with a silent night. The next mornin', Margaret's been nappin' at the police station but up until now the cops've been unable to catch crabs from a $5 hooker, an the desk sergeant wakes 'er up to tell 'er they've got three more bodies to add to the scrap heap. The cop says the kid's good cause they can't find 'im anywhere, though he's prolly just tellin' 'imself that cause it's kinda depressin' to accept the fact that they can't find a guy in a bright red suit. So Margaret explains to 'im that it really all makes sense in a screwed up kinda way once you understand what the kid's been through an the cop suggests that if they can just think like a guy that's been horribly scarred by Catholics after seein' his parents get massacred they can plot his next move... oh. Crap.
Alrighty, well, this one is probably the best known of the Santa Claus killer sub-genre, and probably the best of the lot. Unfortunately, back in 1984 when it was released all the parents whose kids were seein' trailers on TV for a movie about Santa choppin' people up into Spam didn't share my enthusiasm and ended up gettin' the movie yanked outta just about every theater it was playing in. I'll admit, having trailers airing on TV was probably not the best strategy, there was no way parents could keep their kids from seeing that. That said, if you can't explain to your child the difference between real and make believe... oh wait. Seriously though, there's layers to this foolishness cause obviously Santa isn't real to begin with, but parents tell the kids he is. Sometimes when one of the little buggers yanks off Santa's beard in the mall an all the kids in line see it, parents even have to explain to the kids that he's one of Santa's helpers and not the real Santa. But it's too much to ask that the parents tell their kids that it's just a movie and has no basis in reality? Be it actual reality or the reality that they've concocted for the kid? Equally confusing is the lack of outrage over Christmas Evil, which has very much the same basic plot and came out that same year, nor was there this degree of butt hurt when To All a Good Night was released four years earlier. I'd assume that's due to to a lack of publicity, or possibly neither movie ever hitting theaters, but the point is that this wasn't a new subject by then. You also had a few others that were just set at Christmas time, but that didn't have a guy in a Santa suit, such as Black Christmas and Silent Night, Bloody Night. And of course, all the public outrage resulted in what should have been a stand alone movie having four sequels and several terrible copy cats. It's really unfortunate for the producers of the film, because in reality, it was really kickin' ass at the box office for the few weeks it was actually being shown, and was even out-grossing A Nightmare on Elm Street, which was released around the same time. Because the movie actually did have a budget, the studio probably lost its ass until they were able to get it released on VHS, which is pretty sickenin' when you think about it. Bottom line, quit bein' so outraged about everything unless you want ten times as much of it as you had before, asshats.
Okay then, lets see what Santa's got in his bag of all things pointy. The plot is pretty decent, and while I love the opening segment with the crazy grandfather setting the kid up to be terrified of Santa before the movie even shows one, it's probably not all that necessary. I just like it cause someday I'm gonna be that guy, scarin' the bejezus outta little kids for no real reason. But with the kid seein' his parents murdered by the guy wearin' Santa's gear, and then being sent to a Catholic orphanage afterwards, it's practically a certainty that this sorta thing was gonna happen. So there is a little plot gettin' in the way of the story here but it's beneficial at least. The acting is surprisingly decent. Even the child actors are pretty good, particularly Danny Wagner. You really believe he's terrified of those nuns, but maybe that's because you're terrified of 'em too. Lilyan Chauvin is fantastic as Mother Superior, whose character actually has a little depth to it and doesn't reek of cookie cutter antagonist. She really does want what's best for the children, she's just a horrible old hag that goes about it the wrong way. Robert Wilson (despite being ashamed of the movie when it came out) isn't bad as the 18 year old version of Billy, either. And of course, we've got Linnea Quigley as the hot blonde that shows her boobs. That's kinda Linnea's career role, but horror fans love her to death and rightly so. Linnea doesn't really need me to tout her acting history for her, but here's everyone else that matters and why: Lilyan Chauvin (Pumpkinhead II, Predator 2, The Mephisto Waltz, Bloodlust!), Gilmer McCormick (Slaughterhouse-Five), Britt Leach (The Last Starfighter), Nancy Borgenicht (Neon City, Halloween 4, Legion of Fire: Killer Ants, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Hangar 18, The Fall of the House of Usher, The Time Machine 1978), Leo Geter (Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, The Stand, Near Dark), Randy Stumpf (Are You in the House Alone?), Will Hare (Grim Prairie Tales), Tara Buckman (Xtro II, Brave New World 1980), Geoff Hansen (The Arrival 1991), Charles Dierkop (Grotesque 1988, Messiah of Evil, Night of the Cobra Woman, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea), Eric Hart (Halloween 4), Max Robinson (Halloween 5, Hangar 18), Oscar Rowland (Bats, Berserker), Angela Montoya (Halloween 5), Jayne Luke (Species), Aron Kincaid (Brave New World 1980, Planet Earth, The Wasp Woman), Judith Roberts (Dead Silence, Eraserhead), Don Shanks (I'll Always Know What You Did Last Summer, Urban Legends: Bloody Mary, The Crow: Salvation, Legion of Fire: Killer Ants, Halloween 5). Normal people over 45 may recognize Charles Dierkop as Detective Pete Royster from the TV series Police Woman that ran from 1974 to 1978 and starred Angie Dickinson.
The special effects are top notch. And not only are they really nicely done with liberal use of thick, dark blood, the cinematographer holds the camera on these mangled corpses for a long time. I can't believe they didn't try to slap an X rating on this thing. Although sometimes directors try putting in a few really over the top gore effects that they don't really care about to begin with, hoping that the MPAA will latch onto that and leave the ones they do care about alone. There was one really great shot in this movie that was originally scissored out, but that can be seen in the uncut version on home video, which was of course the decapitation scene. Even without it, it's pretty bloody though. Kinda seems like those MPAA guys just have "bad days" or something when you look at what gets by and what doesn't. But anyway, in this one we've got a several knife slashings, which are all shown as they happen, a strangulation, some really excellent gunshot wounds, a shredded boyfriend, Linnea Quigley's big rack scene, and the coup de grace, the great toboggan head roll. It's really pretty cruel to cut that shot even if for no other reason than how tough it had to be to keep that headless dummy on the sled as it comes down the hill. Maybe they had a kid inside to stabilize it or something, but it looks fantastic. The shooting locations are pretty decent for this one too, mostly indoor shots, but they're indoor areas that I kinda like. The orphanage looks good both inside and out, the toy store is definitely an interesting one that you don't see that often (though it was used to perfection in Child's Play), and the scenes that take place in the woods during the sledding sequence are enjoyable as well. Nicely done. The soundtrack is another positive contribution. Sometimes it reminds one of A Nightmare on Elm Street, though certainly it hadn't been copied since they were in theaters at the same time. It's similar to Child's Play now and then as well (or rather, Child's Play is similar to it), but these comparisons are just little snippets of certain tracks that occur from time to time. Really though, what else would you expect other than greatness from the man who made the Mork and Mindy theme song? But seriously, they're all good tracks that add a suitable amount of tension, and there's also about eight actual songs that play throughout the course of the movie, written specifically for it, that're actually pretty believable Christmas type songs you'd expect to hear on the radio in the 80s. These songs, though seriously cheesy, also help to ground the movie in reality in an "extra credit" kinda way. Overall, it's the king of the Santa Claus killers and the one that pissed off everybody that wanted to focus on the true meanin' of Christmas. Which is apparently not portraying a fictional character in a manner that they find uncomfortable. Check it out.