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Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

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Posted 6th November 2009 at 03:58 PM by Philleh

Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
Arrow Video

The Slasher genre is no stranger to controversy, but there was one film that went a little too far with its seasonal slaughter – 1984s Silent Night, Deadly Night. Halloween had been done, Valentine’s Day had been done, Birthdays had been done, hell Christmas had already been done, repeatedly, but people didn’t seem to pay much mind to Black Christmas or Christmas Evil. Silent Night, Deadly Night however, struck a chord with its festive horror, turning jolly Saint Nick into a psychopathic murderer. Families protested while film-critics attacked the creators in their broadcasts, the film was eventually withdrawn from theatres by distributor’s Tri-star Pictures. Distributors in the UK didn’t even attempt to release it after the stir the film caused stateside.

Luckily, Cult fans disagree with the PTA, and Silent Night, Deadly Night is one of slasher cinema’s more entertaining entries. One that is long, long, long overdue for a UK release!

Christmas, 1971, Billy Chapman and his family have paid their annual visit to a senile (?) Grandfather. Grandpa warns Billy that Santa will be coming soon, and that he only treats boys and girls who have behaved all year round, those who haven’t – He punishes. Meanwhile a thief, dressed as Santa, has robbed and murdered a store owner for $31. On the way back home, Billy questions his parents about Santa’s work ethics, fearing that he’s not been good enough and will be punished. Surprised by his attitude his parents blame Grandpa and label him a crazy fool. A little while later they stumble upon Santa Claus on the side of the road in his broken-down car; pulling over to offer him a lift, he pulls his gun and shoots Billy’s father – then attempts to rape his mother.

His mother puts up a fight and Santa cuts her throat, Billy; hiding in some bushes, see’s the whole thing. Santa flees the scene and leaves Billy and his baby brother, Ricky, alone. 3 years pass and they have been taken in by an orphanage run by a sadistic Mother Superior; who hands out belt-lashings to the young lad on a regular basis for misbehaving – she believes that punishment is not only necessary, but good for the young boy. Flash-forward to 1984, Billy is now 18 and seeking employment. With the help of Sister Mary, a sympathetic Nun from his orphanage, he lands a job in a toy-store stacking shelves. Things look good for Billy, but that’s about to change, he’s asked by the owner to dress up as Santa for the store and given Billy’s history, it can only end in tears. Needless to say it doesn’t take him too long to snap and go on a rampage punishing all the naughty people in town.

Now, Silent Night, Deadly Night isn’t going to win any awards for being an effective, frightening or, frankly, good movie – it’s terrible, and by that I mean, terribly good entertainment! Wearing its exploitation badge with pride, Silent Night, Deadly Night delivers on every aspect; from breasts to bodycount, the pace is just right so that one, or more often than not both, is never far away. Why is it so much fun? Simple, it refuses to take itself seriously and has fun with its ridiculous plot! Characters are redundant and are nothing but canon fodder for Billy and his array of weaponry; Christmas lights, bow and arrow, axe… antlers – finding something to a kill a person with is Billy’s true talent it seems.

The acting is laughable, the dialogue is cringe-worthy and the film itself is shot with as much love and care as a 12 year-old gives their fish bowl, but all of this helps enhance the films ‘so-bad it’s good’ effect. The pace is pitch-perfect so viewers attention will not wonder as Billy takes out victim after victim; genre fans can also admire the talents of Linnea Quigley for a brief, but rewarding, cameo – she’s never done it for me, but fans of hers are well catered for here; essentially she’s been added to the cast to help fill the T&A quota.

The film is finally in its entirety thanks to Arrow Video, the source materials used vary so the picture quality does change throughout the film; but it doesn’t take away from the fun you’ll have watching it. Oddly, most of the lesser-quality material that has been re-instated isn’t gore related, but establishing material! Extra’s wise we have Tri-star’s original red-band trailer that is spoiler heavy, so be sure to watch the film first and we also have an audio interview with the director of the film. The disc also comes with a booklet containing an arctle on Miss. Quigley, an interview with the director by Calum Waddell and a fold-out poster of the newly commissioned artwork – tasty!

Arrow Video have rescued yet another much loved Cult-classic from obscurity, the presentation isn’t perfect, but fans will find little to complain about with this, essential, Christmas release. Add it to your Christmas list and prey you’ve been good enough this year… Or Billy will be coming to punish you!
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