Thursday, May 13, 2010

Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

Reviewed By: Billy

Being that here in the mid-Atlantic spring is in full force – which means the onset of hot & humid days – I felt it was the perfect time to cool off by watching the refreshingly brainless Silent Night, Deadly Night. This is the movie that famously set off an outcry from dorky PTA parents across the country, who took offense to the idea of a loveable Santa Claus killing off people. If any of these people had bothered to actually see the movie, I’m sure they would’ve been much more offended by other things...i.e. the complete lack of plot/talent involved. But, to each his own.

Anyway, Silent Night, Deadly Night opens on Christmas Eve, 1971, with a loveable family of four in a car who pull over to help a man in a Santa suit stranded on the roadside. Turns out Santa is actually a gun-toting crook who shoots up the father and rips open the mother’s shirt before killing her – conveniently giving the audience its first gratuitous boob shot. I know this will surprise you, being that this is an early 80’s slasher, but there are many more to come.
Flash forward years later, and the two kids are now living at Saint Mary’s Home For Orphaned Children. As with every other movie orphanage, this is not a happy place; it’s lorded over by an evil nun who abuses the kids and says things like “Punishment is absolute. Punishment is necessary. Punishment is good.” In other words, she’s the nun equivalent of the cruel lesbian warden in Women In Prison films. Poor little Billy, the oldest son who witnessed his parents die, gets the brunt of Mother Superior’s anger, especially after he spies two older kids in the school having sex. This scene – less than 20 minutes in – gives us gratuitous boob shot #2, for those keeping score. Mother Superior goes so far as to force Billy to sit on Santa’s lap, which results in Billy tossing off a right hook worthy of Mike Tyson. Seriously, the sound effect of a boxing K.O. dubbed to match the moment a little boy’s hand meets Santa’s face is a moment I re-wound at least four times; it’s endlessly entertaining.
Thankfully, showing Billy some kindness is Sister Margaret, blessed with the sunny optimism and butch pageboy haircut of Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music. Ten years after belting Santa, little Billy has grown up to become a strapping young lad, and Sister Margaret finds him a job at a local toy store. This leads us to a wonderful montage of Billy learning the ropes of retail, set to a Pete Seger sound-alike singing about the happiness of the holidays. I personally believe this satisfying montage led directly to the opening credits of “Family Ties” – so I’m eternally grateful to it.

It’s also worth noting that grown-up Billy is…well…hot. For the ladies and gays among us, Silent Night, Deadly Night has the distinction of being perhaps the first & only slasher to gift us with a “Playgirl” centerfold-worthy madman. And, being that this is a genre that doesn’t usually throw us a…ahem…bone, I’d like to thank director Charles E. Sellier, Jr. for both not making Billy ugly and for throwing in gratuitous boob shot #3, which also includes a gratuitous Billy butt shot:
Oh, and for the straights among you, don’t stop reading this yet…topless Linnea Quigley is just minutes away.

So Christmas-time comes and Billy goes berserk; forced to dress up as Old Saint Nick, he kills his co-workers and his reign of terror begins. He also starts quoting Mother Superior, babbling about how “punishment is necessary” while killing those he believes are being naughty. In this way, he’s a lot like Angela in Sleepaway Camp 2 & 3; they’re also alike in the fact that they both have penises. In fact, now that I think about it, a Billy & Angela combo movie would be awesome. Expect a script by my brother and me to make the rounds very soon.

Billy’s first victims outside the toy store are Linnea and her boyfriend, two random people who happen to be having sex as Billy is walking by. Linnea, looking for her cat, makes the gargantuan mistake of opening her front door without a top on (which seems a strange move in the middle of winter, but what do I know?), which leads to her being impaled topless on a convenient pair of deer antlers. This scene is awesome, and the minute & a half that Linnea Quigly is on screen here is without a doubt her best performance ever (although her turn as a deaf-mute in Savage Streets is pretty wonderful).
The growing list of victims soon has police searching for Santa – and using Sister Margaret to help track him down. In this sense, the chipper nun kind of becomes this movie’s Dr. Loomis, albeit one without Donald Pleasence's tobacco-stained beard. Sister Margaret has the sudden and brilliant realization that Billy’s heading back to the orphanage to kill Mother Superior – something that a 5 year-old could have figured out – and Billy is shot to death seconds before hacking up Mother Superior in her wheelchair. Why the audience is deprived of seeing the old lady get beheaded is beyond me…but, whatever. The final image is of Billy’s little brother, who’s just witnessed the whole thing…and with this brilliantly done pissed-face, a franchise is born:
So, this movie is 85-minutes of pure genius. Any movie that pisses off conservative moms is okay with me, and especially if said movie has some eye candy doing the dirty work. But, as we always say at Tower Farm, sequels are better than the originals. And so, with part 2, the real brilliance would begin. And with that…stay tuned for JM’s upcoming review of Silent Night, Deadly Night 2!



  1. An entertaing review - I saw this for the first time about 6 months ago and I was surprised at how mean spirited it was. The plethora of mindless killings arent exceptional in any way, but the films apparent hatred of Christmas is. At every turn it shoots a bullet in the face of the festive period. I liked this, because when you get through all the mindless stupidity, there is a point to it.

  2. I thought you guys might appreciate the following link and trailer:

  3. Haha, great review as guys know how to provide entertainment for all sexual orientations!

  4. I've seen this movie. The scene with the "Garbage Day" still haunts me & the girl who gets skewered by the antlers. Yikes!!!!! It's tho one of my favs

  5. I watch this every holiday season, right next to Bad Santa. it's the perfect double feature!

  6. I watch this every year. I love it, but I'm always disappointed all over again that Mother Superior doesn't get dispatched. It really is a major failure on the film's part. We all want to see it, they knew we all wanted to see it, and they didn't deliver. I think they should film a scene where she gets hatcheted in the forehad and add it to the disc as an extra. I know at least one person who'd buy that "special Nunsplit edition."

  7. As expected, this review is brilliant. I'm now eagerly awaiting the SNDSN2 post with more excitement than the Joss Whedon/Neil Patrick Harris glee episode. THAT's how great you boys are!

  8. Silent Night, Deadly Night is a fave, great review. I actually got the pleasure of seeing it in the theater about a year ago, along with the original Black Christmas. Good times.

    Also, glad to know I'm not the only one who finds Billy to be hunky. I also enjoy Eric Freeman in the second one, but sadly he got no major skinnage like his psychotic brethren in this film.

  9. Great review for a good slasher. I never understood the hoopla this one got when it was released. Stupid parents.

  10. Definitely one of my fave slashers,though I disagree with the poster who commented that the kills are unremarkable.

    Aside from Linnea's nude torso impalement,(perhaps the most beautiful and unexpected method of dispatch since MY Bloody Valentine's showerhead skull perforation),we have a teen getting his head lopped off like a melon mid-sled ride,a multi-colored light strangulation,a boxcutter the toystore setting and massacre are just pure slasher fun overall.

    The kindly nun,the creepy senile fuck of a grandpa,the over-the-top (and hysterical) drunk acting of the shop could this sick flick NOT be a yuletide mainstay with a nice cup of spiked eggnog?!