Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

Christmas Eve, 1971 and young Billy (along with his baby brother and parents) arrive to visit dear Grandpa in a mental hospital. Obviously, Grandpa doesn't seem to have both oars in the water and scares the Christmas cheer right out of Billy when he tells him that Santa Claus will punish those that are naughty. On the dark drive home, Billy's parents run into a criminal dressed as the jolly old fat man, who apparently is having some car trouble. When they pull over to offer some assistance, Santa puts a slug in Pop and Billy watches as St. Nick slices his mother's throat like a holiday turkey. Billy and his brother Ricky are put into an Orphanage run by a demented and mean old Mother Superior where Billy gets molded into the psychopath he will eventually become. Jump ahead to 1984 and Billy's now a strapping young lad working for a toy store in town. But when his boss convinces him to don the familiar red suit for the kiddies at Christmas, Billy, well, loses what grip he has left.

    Tagline: You've made it through Halloween, now try and survive Christmas.

    AKA: Noche de paz, noche de muerte (Spain) / Natale di sangue (Italy) / Silent Night, Deadly Night - Un Natale rosso sangue (Italy, alternative title) / Douce nuit, sanglante nuit (France) / Death House (USA, alternative title)

Directing:
  • Charles Sellier

Writing:
  • Michael Hickey
  • Paul Caimi

Release Date: 1984-11-09
  • Country: USA
  • Language: english
  • Runtime: 79
  • Budget: $1.065.000

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Paul Caimi

Writer (story)

Ira Barmak

Producer

Dennis Whitehead

Executive producer

Scott Schneid

Executive producer

Henning Schellerup

Cinematography

Michael Spence

Film Editing/Second unit director

Karl Wesson

Makeup Department

Rick Josephsen

Special Effects

Denis L. Stewart

First assistant director

Perry Husman

Second assistant director

Charles Dierkop

Killer Santa

Don Shanks

Santa Climbing in Window

Will Hare

Grandpa Chapman

John Bishop

Older Boy Sledding - Bob

Tara Buckman

Ellie Chapman

Aron Kincaid

Obnoxious Deejay

Lilyan Chauvin

Mother Superior

Judith Roberts

Mother Superior

Angela Montoya

Little Girl on Santa's Lap

Tip Boxell

Officer Murphy

Richard D. Clark

Officer Miller

Oscar Rowland

Dr. Conway

John Michael Alvarez

Young Boy Sledding - Jim

Vinc Massa

Young Boy Sledding - Doug

Max Robinson

Officer Barnes

Richard C. Terry

Older Boy Sledding - Mac

A. Madeline Smith

Sister Ellen

Melissa Best (II)

Infant Ricky

Jonathan Best

Billy at 5

Molly Cameron

Girl's Mother

Jayne Luke

Other Mother in Store

Dan Rogers

Dispatcher

Max Broadhead

Brother (Ricky) at 4

Alex Burton

Brother (Ricky) at 14

J. Paul Broadhead

Santa in Store

Spencer Ashby

Santa at Orphanage

Paul Mulder

Teen Lover at Orphanage

Barbara Stafford

Teen Lover at Orphanage

Betsy Nagel

Other Mother in Store

Joan Forster

Other Mother in Store

Eric Hart

Mr. Levitt (Storekeeper)

Gilmer McCormick

Sister Margaret

Geoff Hansen

Jim Chapman

Danny Wagner

Billy at 8

H.E.D. Redford

Captain Richards

Nancy Borgenicht

Mrs. Randall

Britt Leach

Ira Sims

Robert Brian Wilson

Billy Chapman (age 18)
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  • The year was 1984 and it seemed that Santa got a brand new bag. Unfortunately for Christmas enthusiasts everywhere, this new bag was not full of presents, but rather axes, hammers and various other instruments of death that Santa used to "punish" those that were naughty. "Silent Night, Deadly Night" opened to scattered protests from mostly mothers (picketing movie theaters), very angry over the depiction of one of their children's heroes.

    How could filmmakers be so insensitive to show a maniacal killer dressed in a Santa Claus suit? It's amusing that if this film were made today, nobody would even bat an eye lash. But different times called for different measures I guess. Either way, "Silent Night, Deadly Night" found an audience in 1984 and cemented its place in Cult/Slasher film history.

    The Review
    As luck would have it, this is quite a nice little slasher flick. The story itself is rather interesting and the filmmakers go to some lengths to make you understand all of the factors that drive Billy to such mayhem. While in the beginning of the film, they get a little flashback happy (nothing in comparison to "Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2"), "Silent Night" chugs along pretty nicely with plenty of horror-hunters' desired scenes laced throughout. The film is, at times, quite over the top but it never ceases to be fun and the idea of a killer Santa Claus was something pretty fresh back in 1984.
    When watching the movie now, more than 20 years later, I find myself enjoying it just as much as the first time I saw it and all the while getting those warm feelings of nostalgia. "Silent Night" has a lot of charm and character to it; especially considering the budget and time it was made.
    I have to give credit to the filmmakers for bringing to the screen the things that most people are looking for in a slasher. First off, let's talk about the gore. There is some decent stuff here, including but not limited to, decapitation, stabbings, strangulation, death by bow and arrow (Santa's quite the renaissance man) and a hammer to the noggin.
    Also, one of the victims (Linnea Quigley) gets one of the most inventive death scenes I've ever seen. Santa actually lifts her up and impales her on a set of deer horns in, hands down, one of the best scenes in the film. There's also some nice nudity here, especially coming from Linnea Quigley in the scene prior to the impaling.
    The acting in "Silent Night" is a little over the top with Billy ( Robert Brian Wilson) being more on the "stiff" side. It's not very good as a whole but it's not bad enough to take too much away from the film (if you want to see truly terrible acting, watch the sequel). The directing is pretty decent here with the movie taking on much more of a plot then you'd imagine. There are some really cool shots of Santa's bloody axe and the kill scenes, for the most part, are set up very nicely. The film certainly has its share of plot holes but this is a good notch or two above the standard 80's slasher script.
    With "Silent Night" being as over the top as it is, this is certainly not a film to take seriously. There is a small amount of humor scattered throughout but it's subtle at best and a lot of it is cut from the unintentional cloth. The sound for the movie is pretty typical 80's fare. A lot of synthesizers and volume boosts will have you reminiscing on days gone by while not particularly impressing you in any way. There are a few Christmas songs throughout the movie (which doesn't really surprise you, does it?) but the one played during Billy's first few days at the toy store gets me chuckling to myself every time.

    The Summary
    There's a lot to like in "Silent Night, Deadly Night" and it's a film that knows how to use its strengths to its advantage. We get some good gore, some good nudity and a pretty involved story to boot. As in most slasher films, there are some flaws to take into consideration but nothing that will take the fun out of the film. It just has too much going for it. I'm not going to tell you that this is the best slasher film you'll ever see, because it's not. But there's enough stuff here to give you a hell of a good time.
    There have been a lot of other movies trying to capitalize on the success of a killer Santa Claus since the release of "Silent Night," but in my opinion, none I've seen have compared to the original. If you're a fan of the slasher genre, I highly recommend giving this one a spin in the old DVD player. But if you've been naughty - you better watch out.

    Published Full Review
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