SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT (1984) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Tuesday, 11 December 2012



When SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT was first released in 1984, this low-budget slasher movie stirred a huge controversy during the holiday season. Apparently this was because the killer in the movie was dressed as Santa Claus. It was so controversial that the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) demanded for the movie to remove from theaters due to its subject matter and the fact it was shown around Christmas. A lot of angry families had also staged large protest over the movie around the nation, until it prompted TriStar Pictures (its original distributor) to pull all the ads six days after its theatrical release. Shortly after, the movie was withdrawn from showing in theaters until it was later re-released by an independent distributor in spring 1986.

No doubt a serious controversy can sparks a lot of interest to see what makes this movie such a big fuss. But as a movie itself, SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT is nothing more than your run-of-the-mill slasher flick revolves around holiday season.

It begins with a prologue on Christmas Eve, 1971 where 5-year-old boy Billy (Jonathan Best) first witnesses his parents (Jeff Hansen, Tara Buckman) are brutally slained by a crazy killer in Santa suit (Charles Dierkop).

Three years later, 8-year-old Billy (Danny Wagner) is now residing at St. Mary's Orphanage. Unlike other kids, Billy is often haunted by a past about his parent's death. Sister Margaret (Gilmer McCormick) pities him a lot and understands what he has been through. But not for Mother Superior (Lilyan Chauvin), who is a strict Catholic sister often abuses Billy.

Ten years later in 1984, Billy (Robert Brian Wilson) is now a 18-year-old teenager. With the help of Sister Margaret, he successfully lands a job as a store assistant at Ira's Toy Store. One day, the store owner, Mr. Sims (Britt Leach), asks him to play Santa Claus because one of his fellow employees has injured. At the beginning, Billy starts frightening the kid who sit upon his knee with his scary remark. His mental condition gets worse from there, when he subsequently goes off on a murder spree dressed in a Santa suit.

Being a low-budget movie, it's no surprise that the sets are cheap-looking while the acting are mostly horrendous. The plot is a slow-burner, while most of the killing scenes are uninspired. Charles E. Sellier Jr.'s direction is awfully pedestrian and the gore effects are pretty much average. Of course, no slasher movie will be completed without gratuitous nudity and this one is no exception.

If anything, a little credit should be given to Michael Hickey's effort for taking time to establish Billy's innocent to a seriously traumatized character that drives him into a psychotic killer. Lilyan Chauvin is also notable as a strict and abusive Mother Superior. 

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