DECEMBER 18, 2007
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:
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.
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?