SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT (REVIEW)
Dir. Charles E. Sellier Jr.
Reviewer. Dan Cook
"Punish!”. Back in 1984, the PTA of America got predictably fired up when adverts and posters began to appear promoting a horror movie which featured an axe-wielding Santa Claus. Granted, the timing of these TV spots weren’t exactly well planned as they aired between episodes of family-friendly fare such as ‘The Little House On The Prairie’ and ‘Three’s Company’. and as is expected, it wasn’t long before SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT became an object of significant public consternation. Hundreds of letters were sent to TriStar Pictures demanding that the film be pulled from distribution, large crowds of conservative parents assembled outside cinemas across the country in mass protest and following a notoriously scabrous review from critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert which purposefully named and shamed those involved in the production, the movie was withdrawn.
With a sordid reputation like that, you’d think that SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT would be one of the most revolting, most depraved and most shameful motion pictures ever released. Well, unsurprisingly, it isn’t.
It’s a very standard slasher thriller which certainly has its fair share of gruesome kills and gratuitous nudity (predominantly provided by 80’s scream Queen Linnea Quigley) but nothing that marks it out as a particularly problematic example of the genre. In fact, the film, which sees a traumatised young man (Robert Brian Wilson) dressed as Santa going on a bloody rampage during Christmas Eve, actually has some of the better character building, death scenes and performances seen in a mid-80’s horror - most notably that of screen stalwart Lilyan Chauvin whose portrayal of the strict Mother Superior is just as chilling and as menacing as that of the knife-wielding psychopath.
Sure it’s not the most uplifting of Christmas films but for fans of slasher movies and exploitation cinema, ‘Silent Night, Deadly Night’ is a must-see.