Combustible Celluloid
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With: Lilyan Chauvin, Gilmer McCormick, Toni Nero, Robert Brian Wilson, Britt Leach, Nancy Borgenicht, H.E.D. Redford, Danny Wagner, Linnea Quigley, John Bishop, Leo Geter, Randy Stumpf, Will Hare, Tara Buckman, Geoff Hansen, Charles Dierkop, Eric Hart, Jonathan Best, A. Madeline Smith, Amy Styvesant, Max Robinson, Vinc Massa, John Michael Alvarez, Richard C. Terry, Oscar Rowland, Richard D. Clark, Tip Boxell, Don Shanks, Angela Montoya
Written by: Michael Hickey, based on a story by Paul Caimi
Directed by: Charles E. Sellier Jr.
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 85
Date: 11/09/1984

Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

1 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Slay Bells

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Though it wasn't the first "killer Santa" movie -- Christmas Evil (1980) has that distinction -- Silent Night, Deadly Night is the most notorious because its holiday television ads attracted the ire of parents. Many tried to have it banned, but here it is, on DVD, in its uncut version. Normally my job would be to vindicate this poor, neglected movie, but in this case, I have to agree. Not only is the movie vile and callous, but also it's pretty darn stupid. The first half is given over to exposition, explaining every hellish detail behind the serial killer's childhood and his deadly obsession with Santa Claus. A man dressed in a Santa suit rapes his mom and kills his family. Years later, a sadistic Mother Superior (Lilyan Chauvin) at an orphanage further fuels his fears. (She explains that naughty people must be punished.) When he turns 18 he gets a job at a toy store. Everything goes fine until Santa calls in sick and Billy (Robert Brian Wilson) has to fill in. He flips and goes on a killing spree, shouting, "punish" every time he swings his axe. His killings are randomly lined up and executed with no flair, and the timing is all wrong. Characters wait in one room while other characters die in the next room. The movie's only high point is scream queen Linnea Quigley, who appears naked for a good long while and gets impaled on a moose head. Morgan Ames provided several creepy original songs, including "Santa's Watching." Of course, the movie was a hit -- thanks mainly to the controversy -- and four sequels followed. Inexplicably, the great Monte Hellman directed Silent Night, Deadly Night III: Better Watch Out! (1989). Apparently, a remake is planned.

DVD Details: Anchor Bay's 2007 DVD includes an audio interview with the director, a trailer, a poster and still gallery and a collection of outraged letters about the film.

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