Non Canon Review: Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

DECEMBER 18, 2007

GENRE: HOLIDAY, SLASHER
SOURCE: THEATRICAL (REVIVAL SCREENING)

At long last... I have seen Silent Night, Deadly Night in its proper context: in a theater, with 300 other people in various levels of sobriety (I was sadly completely sober, having flew over to the New Beverly from work and parking so quickly that I didn’t notice the no parking sign; my devotion to the film has now cost me an additional 45 dollars). Of all the times I have seen the film, it has never been with more than one or two others, and seeing it with a big group of like-minded folks is of course is part, if not most of the fun.

The film was actually picketed against when it was released in 1984, mostly by mothers (or, more likely, embittered women who never managed to put their shrill and sad attitudes aside for long enough to get knocked up) who objected to the ads depicting Santa Claus with an axe. Clearly, this could damage a young child, one who would be much better left at home alone while his mother picketed a movie she hadn’t seen so she could avoid basic parenting. This resulted in the film being pulled from theaters after a week or so, so thanks a lot, whores. Hell, according the liner notes in the DVD, the film never even played in LA, making this screening all the more exciting.

For the rest of the people in the world who aren’t complete idiots and at least WATCHED it before making an opinion, this movie is a delightfully wretched piece of mean-spirited cinema. Bad Santa could only WISH it was as gleefully cruel as this movie. “I’m on my lunch break”??? That’s got nothing on a group of kids seeing not one but TWO Santas (one a kindly deaf priest!) get shot to death in front of their eyes on Christmas day.

Of course, the most terrifying scene in the film is the one early on with the kid’s grandfather, a man who momentarily springs out of his comatose state to warn his grandson that Santa is coming to kill him later on. The look on this guy’s face and his delivery is nothing short of astounding, and sets the tone nicely for the classless joy that follows. Over the course of the next 80 minutes, we get plenty of gratuitous nudity, 30 year old bullies stealing sleds from 20 year old children, a truly bizarre montage of our eventual killer learning how to work in a toy store, sadistic nuns, a beheaded snowman… GOD I LOVE THIS FUCKING MOVIE.

I also noticed for the first time how many ties it has to the Halloween sequels. The Lily Tomlin-ish chick from part 4 who transfers Michael in the opening scene shows up as the toy store owner’s girlfriend, Leo Jeter (aka Curse’s Barry Simms) plays the boyfriend in the infamous antler scene, and Don Shanks (Part 5’s Michael) did some of the stunts. Weird. Speaking of the antler scene, the other day I pointed out how Jeter’s terrible peripheral vision was topped in Toe Tags, but looking at it again, I think it might be a tie:

How the FUCK does he not see her???

When I first saw this film as a 6 year old (I’ll say it again – my mom rules), I seriously believed that the filmmakers had to wait years to finish the film in order to give time for the kid playing Billy to age from 7 to 12 to 18. Of course, looking at it now, even if such nonsensical filmmaking tactics were true, they certainly wouldn’t be the case here, as the 3 actors couldn’t look LESS alike. I also like how my 6 year old self was smart enough to understand that it was only a movie (I still believed in Santa for another 3 years) but yet was stupid enough to think a film would be filmed in chunks over the course of a decade to accommodate the actor’s aging.

Maybe it's the habit... but I think Sister Margaret is hot.

This classic was just re-released on DVD, with some excised footage restored (though from a different video source, so it looks kind of stupid), but the original release had the sequel on the other side. Since I’ve only seen the sequel once (when I was like 8) I think I’ll make it tomorrow’s regular movie. Sadly, none of the other sequels (including part 5, which starred Mickey Rooney, who was one of the biggest protesters against the first film, going so far as to call the filmmakers “scum”) have ever hit DVD, and I think the pressing with 1 and 2 is now out of print. But really, in the end all you need is the original. The upcoming remake is wholly unnecessary, because unless they get someone with the appropriately sick sense of humor (like Joe Lynch and the Wrong Turn 2 team, or maybe even someone without any horror 'cred', like Louie CK), they will likely opt to make it more accessible to mainstream audiences and thus less awesome. As far as I am concerned, we already got a remake of sorts with Black Xmas (which thematically had more in common with this than the original Black Christmas, in my opinion). And if any of the people reading this review knew (or in fact, IS) someone who protested the film back in the day, I have a message for them/you: Get a sense of humor.

What say you?

8 comments:

  1. u haul frankensteinDecember 20, 2007 at 7:58 PM

    I hope you're aware of the remake that's planned.

    I can't understand how it could possibly top the original unless the entire crew and cast were made up of inmates of a hospital for the criminally insane.

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  2. There's half a paragraph about the remake!!! STOP SKIMMING YOU BASTARD.

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  3. Seriously, this movie contains one of my absolute favorite slasher kills (on the cheeseball factor): the kid on the sled. I pulled a total spit-take when I saw it for the first time (my girlfriend was non-plussed, by the spit-take that is).

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  4. I seem to recall this move had THE GREATEST TAG LINE EVER!!!!

    "He'll Sleigh You."

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  5. I bought this movie on DVD and watched it by myself at first then with other horror fans. It was definitely more enjoyable the second time with more people watching it, the feedback from everyone was priceless.

    I never saw why this was so opposed back in the day, it was less likely some 6 year-old would even see an advertisement and immediately think of Santa as a killer. Most kids aren't too self aware at that age.

    I think the actor Robert Brain Wilson has an uncanny similarity to the actor Levi James. It's a campy holiday slasher which are the best horror films to watch, unlimited laughter.

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  6. Since I have no horror movie friends, I normally watch this stuff all by myself, and this one was no exception. Man, that was awesome! You pointed out some great highlights but I wanted to focus a bit on some of them:
    I loved the inane dialogue between the 20 year old would be sledders, "Are you having a religious experience, or did you just pee your pants?" I love dialogue between meatheads.

    I always feel bad for dudes who get killed before having sex. half the time there's a sex scene, they get interrupted and then whack... dead. It's gotta suck to die with blue balls. Man, let the dude have his sex before getting punished!

    I love how his first kill required enormous strength which he all of a sudden had, for some reason. How the hell did he lift that dude high enough to hang him with the Christmas lights?

    Man, I wanted to see him punish Mother Superior SOOOO bad. She's the only one who deserved it. Boooo!!!

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  7. Dude, I could only imagine what kind of horrors the mind of Louis CK could produce. With the way his comedy is, I think he would really be able to come up with something remarkable. After all, comedy and horror really aren't that different if you think about it. Both use our own personal feelings and experiences to either make us laugh or shit ourselves!

    Also, +1 for the grandfather being one of the creepiest people I've ever seen on screen!

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