In her third horror remake within as many years, Jaime King (My Bloody Valentine 3D, Mother's Day) stars as Aubrey Bradimore, a crossword-loving sheriffs deputy forced to work on Christmas Eve in particular, the annual Santa parade. She lives in a dreary small town where nothing really happens, but she's in luck: There's a killer Kris Kringle on the loose!
While the jolly old elf's plastic mask is unsettling, he's cast in the Jason Voorhees/Michael Myers mold of mass murderers, taking care of business largely with an ax, but sometimes with a flamethrower and a woodchipper. Needless to say, his fake beard doesn't stay snow-white for long.
Bringing the same coat of competency polish that he did to the nasty little thriller The Aggression Scale earlier this year, director Steven C. Miller has given gorehounds an early Christmas present with this psycho exercise that shines brighter than its modest budget. As the sheriff, A Clockwork Oranges Malcolm McDowell is too jokey than called for, but the horror lover in me was made too jolly by the films knowing, B-level jolts to make me mind too much.
Making Anchor Bays release of Silent Night extra-special is that it gave the label a good reason to bring the 84 original and its 1987 sequel back into print (take that, eBay sellers!), which it has done in a double-feature disc.
Presented unrated, director Charles E. Sellier Jr.s Silent Night, Deadly Night begins with a 1971 prologue, in which little Billy witnesses his parents being brutally murdered by a guy clad in a Santa suit who claimed he was in need of roadside assistance. Three years later, we find Billy as a resident of Saint Mary's Home for Orphaned Children, but suffering at the abusive hand of Mother Superior.
Finally, in 1984, one of the nuns helps a teenaged Billy (Robert Brian Wilson) secure a job at a local toy store, arranging Poochie products and whatnot. Things are good for the milk-drinking young man until hes asked to don the Santa suit in the store, and he snaps.
Taking up an ax, and equating sex with death, he embarks on a rather random rampage across town, bellowing "Naughty!" and "Punish!" at his victims like he's a monosyllabic Hulk. Among the films more notorious scenes of slaughter are a sledder gliding his way into a decapitation, and the naked torso of scream queen Linnea Quigley (The Return of the Living Dead) being mounted literally, this time onto a pair of antlers.
When I first saw Silent Night, Deadly Night on VHS, when I was 14 I was soundly disturbed by the ugliness of the opening. Today, on a second viewing, Im still put off by it, but am able to see it for the cinematic junk it really is. I recall the furor over the film during its abortive release, which one can relive via a collection of critics quotes on the discs Santa's Stocking of Outrage. Elsewhere in the special features, in an audio interview, Sellier relays his regret for being involved in the picture.
For outrage of a different kind, however, watch director Lee Harrys Silent Night, Deadly Night Part II. For starters, it really should be titled Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 1.5, because approximately 40 minutes of its 88 total are clips from its big, bad brother!
On Christmas Eve, Ricky (an ever-growling Eric Freeman, Children of the Corn) tells his psychiatrist about his how his brother, Billy, once went ape-crap over the holidays cue all the previous footage, coming off like a CliffsNotes summary.
Then, in the second half, where the movie dares to do something on its own, Ricky loses his virginity, goes to the movies (to see the first Silent Night, Deadly Night how meta!), and promptly follows in his brothers black-booted footsteps. Watch as he thrusts an umbrella through a guys tummy, then opens it, or as he jumper-cables some punk's mouth until the dudes eyeballs explode.
Strangely, this stuff is so incompetently done, it plays like over-the-top comedy (as do some of the three subsequent sequels, unrelated to this pair). And thats why I highly recommend Part II to bad-movie fanatics. Its ripe for a clubbing, if not annual viewing as counterprogramming to Frank Capra and Rankin-Bass. Rod Lott
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Mother's Day Blu-ray review
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Silent Night, Deadly Night: Three-Disc Set DVD review
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