Silent Night, Deadly Night

Colour me surprised, I really enjoyed this film! I actually wasn’t expecting much, but this turned out to be one of those ‘more then meets the eye’ films. I had heard a lot about this film, some liked it while others didn’t, hard to form any real expectations. Then I saw a documentary called ‘Going To Pieces’ which chronicles the rise and fall of the slasher films. Silent Night, Deadly Night was featured in the film, more so for the controversy it stirred up with family groups over it showing a Santa killing people. After I saw that I added this to my list of films to see and finally I watched it, and damn why did I wait so long? This films tells the story of Billy, who at a young age witnesses the brutal murder of both his parents at the hands of a criminal dressed up in a Santa suit. Fast forward several years later and Billy (Danny Wagner) is living with his younger brother at a Catholic run orphanage. Things are not going too well as Billy is still traumatised by the murders, and this isn’t helped by the abuse of Mother Superior (Lilyan Chauvin) who claims she is trying to help him. The only kind person appears to be Sister Margaret (Gilmer McCormick), who tries to help him. Billy gets confused by things, thinking Santa means evil things and those who do naughty things should have bad things happen to them. We again fast forward, now 10 years later and Billy (now played by Robert Brian Wilson) is 18 years old and Sister Margaret helps him land a job at a toy store. It isn’t long before it is Christmas time, and Billy is about to get set off and begin a murderous spree.
This film actually delved into the psychology of our main character Billy, it showed us his horrible past and the trauma’s he faced in his life. It was all really well done, from the horrible scene of his parent’s murder, to the abuse and horrible treatment by Mother Superior. It is not surprising this poor boy ended up the way he did, confused as all hell and having no understanding of the way things really work. Not really his fault as it seems no body really cared to even give him the proper treatment. Seeing all of this, I felt such sympathy for the character, it made me feel sorry for him and I didn’t want to see anything bad happen to him. At the same time I also didn’t want the inevitable to happen, and at times this film really tore me up. Once Billy is grown up, he’s a well built young man (I mean that in the way he’s tall and muscular), he seems a bit shy but a nice guy. He also had a striking resemblance to a college era Zack Morris from Saved By The Bell, so he also had that pretty boy look going for him. Once he gets basically forced to dress as Santa for the toy store, things get really bad. He’s confused as to what he’s meant to do, and before long he associates wearing that costume with the man who murdered his parents, so he believes he has to kill. I was pretty gutted when he started doing that, the people he goes after weren’t bad or all that annoying, I didn’t want to see him as a victim or as the killer.
For a low budget slasher film this has some pretty good performances, the stand out for me was easily Lilyan Chauvin. The cold and nasty character she created to me seemed awfully evil and I really hated her. She was almost like the long lost sister of Nurse Ratched (from One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest), just one sadistic being, intent on things going her way and no other way. She was the law at the orphanage, and no one was to disobey her. I thought Danny Wagner was the young Billy was quite credible, I felt that boy’s pain, nice work. Gilmer McCormick as Sister Margaret was quite sympathetic and likable, she played her role well and it is easy to see her heart breaking when she gets word that Billy has the suit on. Robert Brian Wilson was pretty good as the older Billy, he was mostly credible as the nice Billy and he was convincing in his change over to killer Billy. He had some off moments, but mostly he did quite well in a tough role. I don’t think this film would have had the same affect on me if Billy wasn’t such a great character, and one I ended up caring for.
This film has a great story, it is told really well and I am glad they took the time to set everything up. A great set up in a horror film always makes for a great second or third act when things get really bad. While the film does look a little dated now, it still holds up quite well for the most part. The pacing was done really well, it flows naturally and it never feels long and it doesn’t feel rushed either. The blood is there, and some impressive kill scenes, including one involving an animal head, which looked rather painful The film knows what it is and it does flaunt it, you get naked ladies and few different women show their assets, whether or not they were necessary. I thought the scene in which Linnea Quigley is naked and has to go outside (it’s snowing outside and cold) only puts on a pair of very short shorts and no top was just a bit too silly. Sure they wanted to show her goods, but seriously, who does that? Yes I notice things like that and they do annoy me, while I don’t want perfection, just some logic would be nice once in a while.
While this film isn’t a masterpiece, it certainly is an above average slasher film and certainly worth the time to check out. If you aren’t a huge fan of Christmas, this film has the same spirit, it really is a bit of a slap in the face to the holiday. So I’d recommend watching this one on Christmas Eve to really set the mood. I know I might just have to make this one a Christmas tradition instead of an October one.
Silent Night, Deadly Night was part of my Horror Films For October, you can find the entire list here.

2 thoughts on “Silent Night, Deadly Night

  1. Pingback: Our Recommendations (December 16th 2011) « Super Marcey's Super Website

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