Christmas 2013: Let's Watch Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)!

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Well screw it. As a result of how much I enjoyed watching Christmas Evil earlier this month, I’ve decided to give another Holiday Horror “Classic” that I’ve never seen before a shot and this time I’m going high profile. As far as Christmas slashers are concerned, you really can’t top a Santa with an ax and to tell the truth I actually have always been intrigued by this one. When I was a kid I used to stare at that VHS box art for what felt like hours in the video store, scanning the pics and reading the snyopsis on the back over and over again. I love scary movies and Halloween and all that, but there’s always been something about the above image that felt truly disturbing to the 6 year old me. Like “Holy Fuck, I really hope I didn’t piss off Santa this year.” So now, tonight on this glorious December edition of Friday the 13th, it’s time to sit back and finally have a look at Silent Night, Deadly Night.

Let’s get this disappointment over with.

Now clearly, this movie is attempting to cash in on the craze that John Carpenter kicked off by making a movie about a series of murders that take place during a major holiday. Halloween was and is a cultural phenomenon but to be honest, I never found Michael Myers to be anywhere near as compelling as Freddy or Jason. It’s a decent movie series and I have a pretty serious soft spot for the third and fourth installments but I really mostly watch that first one in October out of respect. I’m saying this to get the idea out of the way that I hold Halloween up as some kind of sacred thing because I don’t, so please rip that fucker off every way you can SNDN!

As the basic setup for this type of flick demands, something traumatic happens to a little kid during an opening flashback. In this movie’s case, we’ve got Billy Chapman, a 5 year old who on Christmas Eve is told by his hospitalized Grandfather how terrifying Santa Claus truly is. Going so far as to tell him: “If you see Santa Clause tonight, you better RUN FOR YOUR LIFE.” It’s precisely the kind of thing I’d say just to screw with a kid of my own and probably why I’m currently single.

Ironically enough, later on that night Billy does indeed witness some fucked up shit involving a dude dressed as Santa. And by “fucked up shit” I mean he watches as his parents are murdered by Old Chris Cringle. His Dad is shot and his Mom briefly assaulted before having her throat cut.

Despite this tragedy and now an orphan, Billy does not grow up to become Batman. Instead he winds up in a Catholic orphanage carrying around one jacked up psyche. One day, he gets in trouble for drawing a violent picture involving a Santa and is sent to his room. Sneaking out he discovers a couple of older kids having sex and runs away once they’re discovered and are swiftly punished by Mother Superior for being “Naughty.” It would seem that after seeing his own Mom’s shirt torn away and murdered then viewing this nude young woman being punished for exposing herself, Billy will grow up with an impairment that sees him fly into a rampage at the very thought of bare breasts. I gotta admit, I can kinda relate to the poor bastard.

Its in this school where the idea of “punishment for being naughty” is really burned into the kid’s brain. We jump forward ten years and Billy lands a job at a toy store (Hey, that sounds familiar) and this part of the movie features my favorite sequence: A montage of him helping customers and fulfilling his day to day responsibilities. Only in the background of the shop is a virtual wish list of toys for any kid back in the mid 80’s. Return of the Jedi Jabba the Hutt playsets, G.I. Joe Halloween costumes, all kinds of stuff. And that’s kind of weird that this movie could show so many licensed products but not feature any classic Christmas tunes.

Once the holidays roll around It isn’t long before all of Billy’s trauma really takes over as the very sight of Santa has become too much to deal with. After a holiday party at his store, he happens to catch a co-worker being raped and kinda loses his shit a little. Deciding to embrace his fear (which I would argue is actually pretty healthy), he goes into a full on murderous rampage that lasts the rest of the night and should really be seen to be believed.

I mean, come on lady there’s a psycho killer on the loose that can’t navigate the very idea of exposed nipples. Maybe don’t open the front door without wearing a sweater or some-

Y’see?

Overall Silent Night, Deadly Night was pretty good. It’s surprisingly well made, decent fun and I’m not going into detail about the third act because you should watch it for yourself probably. Especially since the whole damn thing is available for free on the old youtube.

Ray Gabriel

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