I love this time of year, and as someone who does celebrate the wonderful commercialism of Christmas, I always grab the Holiday/Christmas movies and watch them during December.
So why not talk about some ‘Christmas Classics‘? Now I may have discovered SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT during a past 31 Days Of Horror, however since then it has made its way into my yearly Christmas films viewing. This is an interesting piece, it is a slasher, but it also is an interesting character study with a very sympathetic lead killer/character.
The premise here is about two young boys who witness their parents getting killed by a man dressed in a Santa’s costume. This traumatises young Billy (Danny Wagner), who is 8 years old and gets sent to an orphanage run by the sadistic Mother Superior (Lilyan Chauvin). His young twisted mind gets very messed up during these early years, and Christmas becomes a time of much grief for him. But 10 years later he’s out in the world, seemingly very functional (now played by Robert Brian Wilson), with his own job at a toy store. But Christmas is fast approaching … and Billy isn’t quite ready for it yet.
What I really love about this classic 80’s slasher is that it actually takes time to build up and establish things. I like that we get insight into Billy and how he was traumatised as a kid by the murder of his parents. And then when he’s under the care of Mother Superior she is just horrible to him, and not at all caring of his mental welfare and in fact makes it a lot worse. The sympathy that forms for Billy is quite strong, by the time he’s an adult, I personally felt for him and I didn’t want anything bad to happen to him … well the joke was on me!
It’s interesting how when this film was released it was very controversial, and it wasn’t because of the actual film, it was the advertising. No one had seen the film, just the ads for it and they deemed it evil and bad for Christmas. As far as I am concerned this is a great film and it is a reminder that Christmas is yes a special time of year but it isn’t always a good time. It can be a source of negativity for some people, and for Billy it is, he just deals with it in a very extreme way.
This film is definitely on the opposite end of the Christmas film spectrum to say HOME ALONE, but it’s a lot of fun to mix up the Christmas viewing. Heck this might even be less violent than HOME ALONE. It has a lot of different elements to appeal to a wider audience, it isn’t strictly horror, there is that dramatic element to it and the psychotic break of Billy to go through. The slasher element almost feels in the background at times, but when it comes up for air it lets you know about it.
The acting is pretty good too, I thought Mother Superior was an excellent villain and goodness, she probably shouldn’t be! Lilyan Chauvin gives a very cold and chilling performance, and she remains one of my most hated characters. Both actors who play Billy do a really good job, especially as they both go through very different things, I believed they were playing the same character. The side actors all do fairly decent, it could have been a lot worse but it felt like everyone really cared when they were making this one.
SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT is certainly is a ‘Christmas Classic‘, at least for us horror fiends out there. It may not fill you with holiday joy but you can definitely put this one for an entertaining afternoon of poor Billy.