Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

Posted: February 11, 2014 in Movie Review
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Silent Night Deadly NightDirected By: Charles Sellier

Starring: Robert Brian Wilson, Lilyan Chauvin, Gilmer McCormick, Toni Nero, Britt Leach, Linnea Quigley, Leo Geter, Charles Dierkop

Thoughts: I’ve watched countless horror movies from may countries, eras and genres, but the Christmas horror subgenre is not one I’ve really dove into before. A lot of that probably has to do with the fact that Christmas is right behind Halloween as a favorite holiday in our house.  This past December, I decided to make an effort to see some more Christmas horror and ordered up the entire Silent Night series. Although I only got to the first two movies in December, I plan on watching the entire series before too long.

As I was watching Silent Night for the first time, it occurred to me that the relationship between Billy (Wilson) and Mother Superior (Chauvin) was very similar to what we see in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.  Now, don’t get me wrong, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is one of the best movies ever made, and Silent Night, Deadly Night is a marginal horror classic, but the relationship is similar.  Mother Superior’s iron fist pushes Billy to the edge, raising the long running question of nature versus nurture.  Would Billy have overcome the traumatic events of seeing his parents killed by Santa if he had more of a loving figure to raise him?  No one will ever know, because he sure didn’t overcome them.

Director Charles Sellier seldom moved behind the camera, but he has a long career.  He’s written, produced and worked on countless movies and TV shows.  His most famous has to be The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams, a show that ran in the late 70s on NBC.  Looking at his filmography, this seemed like a odd choice for Sellier.  The majority of his work is around documentaries and historical figures, although he did occasionally work within the genre.  His lone directorial effort in the genre sure did leave its mark, as Silent Night, Deadly Night was highly controversial.

The ads for Silent Night, Deadly Night created a feeding frenzy among PTAs across the country.  Pretty much every critic of the era also railed the movie, which all horror fans now only creates a larger desire to see it.  Had there not been such a public outcry over a killer dressed as Santa, there probably would only have been one movie.  Instead, there are four sequels and a remake.

The storyline is actually very good.  A young child sees his parents killed by someone in a Santa outfit and grows up to be a psychopath with a disdain for the holiday season.  I was actually surprised at the quality of this movie, and it moved up on the list of favorite slashers of the 80s.  It still has its ridiculous moments, but overall it is very effective, although never really scary (but are many 80s slashers?).  This will make its way into my yearly rotation and it should make it into yours as well.


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