Well, it’s that time of year again. It seems like only yesterday that I didn’t bother to take down my Christmas lights, and, here I am, not bothering to plug them in all over again. It’s that special time when all of my favorite TV shows air reruns, banks decline my requests for increases to my maxed out credit cards, and Facebook friends spam their friend’s with gaudy animated images of rainbow sleighs pulled by unicorns in Santa hats.
Christmas is also the time I break out my collection of holiday-themed horror flicks, because I’m a notorious Scrooge type who likes nothing better than to rain down blood, pain, and misery upon anyone foolish enough to be in my presence during this most magical time of the year. One only need come around to my abode on Christmas Eve for evidence of this, for it is then, my friends, that I annually unspool a veritable bounty of yuletide yuk-fests, headlined by, what I consider to be, the greatest Christmas movie of all time.
What? You expected me to say Silent Night, Deadly Night? Not by a longshot. Hell, that flick isn’t even the best Christmas-themed slasher (Black Christmas wins that race by a mile). It is, however, on the list, because, let’s face it; the film is a laugh riot.
I never quite understood why people were so riled up by Silent Night, Deadly Night upon its release. It's fairly obvious that its biggest critics got no further than seeing the posters before labeling it blasphemous. If any of these prurient asshats actually watched the film they'd have seen it for what it truly was; a harmless, amateurish bore that works primarily as an unintentionally hilarious comedy!
It's Christmas Eve. Young Billy, his infant brother, Ricky, and their picture perfect parents are traveling to Utah to visit Grandma for the holidays. En route, the family checks in on ol' Grampa, whose as senile as the day is long, and doesn't even know they're in the room with him.
That is, until Billy is left alone with him.
Grampa then torments Billy with tales of Santa Claus and how he punishes all the bad little children!! When his folks return to the room, the once-animated Grampa goes back into vegetable mode, and the family makes their way to Grandma's. When they happen upon a man in a Santa suit, seemingly having car trouble, the family offers him a ride. Scary Santa, however, wants more than a ride, and shoots Billy's dad, "rapes" Billy's mom (or so the synopsis on the DVD cover says. He actually tears open her shirt and slices her throat, which may have just been too long a description) and leaves Billy and infant Ricky out in the middle of nowhere to die.
Flash forward two years, and Billy's not only in an orphanage, he's also a completely different actor, with big blue eyes (even though he had brown eyes in his previous incarnation). Ricky, who should be around 3 years old, looks to be around the same age as Billy, but that doesn't matter, nor does the fact that it's never explained why the two just didn't go live with their grandmother, who, apparently, lived just up the road.
Billy still has issues with Christmas, and is chastised by the evil Mother Superior (Chauvin) for a particularly gruesome drawing of Santa he made as an art project. His punishment is a forced seating on the lap of the orphanage's Santa, much to the horror of the sweet sister Margaret (McCormick), which results in a very effective right-hook to Santa's nose, and more punishment for Billy.
Flash forward ten years. Billy is now a muscular, handsome, and blonde 30 year old man pretending to be 18. Sister Margaret (who hasn’t aged a day in twenty years) gets Billy a job. At a toy store. During Christmas. This is a great idea, seeing as how Billy is absolutely terrified of the season, and toy stores are basically ground zero for the holiday. Nice going, Margie. You’ve made god proud.
Anyway, Billy does a fine job at the toy store, and this is illustrated through an effective montage of Billy lifting boxes, smiling cheerily, and affirmative nods from his co-workers, all set to a blisteringly awful 80's rock/Christmas song that tells us that "Christmas is always happy on the warm side of the door". I always thought that meant that there was a fire on the other side of the door, but I digress.
Things go downhill when Billy's boss unveils a Santa Claus banner and starts decorating for the holidays. Billy becomes despondent, and begins to raise the ire of his co-workers (who once nodded so affirmatively...sigh) with his lackluster performance and general shortage of Christmas cheer (why doesn't he just tell them that his folks were slaughtered on Christmas Eve? I'd assume that would buy him some sympathy!). When the store Santa calls in sick on Christmas Eve, things get that much worse as Billy is ordered to take his place! The camera zooms in on him when this revelation is made, and, if you listen hard enough, you can almost hear his soul die.
Anyway, what follows is a string of pointless murders, as the hulking, hunky Santa slashes his way around town grunting "Naughty" and "Punish" as he kills people he's never met. The path of carnage leads back to the orphanage, where Mother Superior and Ricky (who is apparently a dwarf as he hasn’t grown, and is, once again, played by yet another actor) await their fates.
I can by no means recommend this film as a horror flick, but if you’re looking to get your “Ho! Ho! Ho!” on, definitely get this film. It's ludicrously funny, and absolutely pointless in every sense of the word. Bravo!
Sadly, the same cannot be said for the ingeniously titled Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2.
First, let me point something out. Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 has an 88 minute running time. That's about the norm for most slashers, right? However, the first 40 minutes of the movie are flashbacks to the first film. Fuck, they aren't even flashbacks; it's basically an encapsulated version of the first film!! From start to finish!! That leaves approximately 48 minutes of actual sequel, and, to be honest, even that's too much.
The killer is now Ricky, whose life has been equally scarred by the fateful moments of that Christmas Eve oh so many years ago (despite the fact that he was an infant). Ricky is now in a mental institution, where he is being held for killing spree that we learn about through more flashbacks (after lazily narrating the entire first film to us). Once again, an entire troupe of actors portrays Ricky in his formative years. First, we see the last actor to play him in the first film (a dark haired, dark eyed boy), and then we learn he was adopted a year later (in these scenes he's portrayed by a tall, thin, blonde kid). We then flash forward to Ricky at 17, as portrayed by a short, nerdy looking fellow with graying hair, before finally settling on the present day Ricky, who is now about 6 foot 4, built like a football player, and has a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT FACE!! He's also played by an actor (Eric Freeman) who looks well into his thirties, although Ricky's supposed to be in his early twenties.
Ricky, much like his late older brother, begins to unravel around the holidays, and goes on a random killing spree, in which he walks around his neighborhood shooting, strangling, and electrocuting everyone in sight. It's all a bit monotonous, and not nearly as funny as the first film, but the higher body count and some decent FX shots (the car battery electrocution scene is entertaining) make it worth a look.
I’ve had an out-of-print double feature set released by Anchor Bay eons ago that I’ve pretty much worn out tormenting visitors with over the years, but, thanks to said company’s release of their 2012 remake, Silent Night, this double feature set has been re-released just in time for your holiday enjoyment.
Both films are presented in widescreen transfers that are very clean and solid, although Silent Night, Deadly Night includes some "lost scenes" that are of an inferior image quality. The DVD features loads of extras, including an audio interview with Charles E. Sellier Jr., a commentary track on Part 2, trailers, extensive liner notes (including a really funny feature called Santa's Stocking of Outrage that includes several quotes and review snippets condemning the films), trailers, stills, and more. While these films don’t command one iota of respect, Anchor Bay certainly showed them some when putting together this package. Perhaps more than they deserve.
While the Silent Night, Deadly Night movies are, admittedly, some of the worst films in my collection, I couldn’t imagine my holidays without them. They’re crass, and cold, and, unless you’ve got a substantial amount of alcohol in your bloodstream, actually kind of boring.
Then again, so am I.
Bah fucking humbug.