Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Silent night, Deadly night

"Silent night, Deadly night" (1984, Charles Sellier, Slayride, TriStar Pictures) is a holiday slasher.

On Christmas Eve 1971, young Billy and his parents and baby brother take a little trip out to see his catatonic grandfather at the mental health institution. Billy is initially concerned that he won't get home in time for Santa visiting, but his mother assures him that he will. Soon Billy's fears have switched to Santa visiting at all. This is elevated when his parents stop to help a stranded Santa who's car has broken down. As it turns out, this Santa is a gun wielding loony, who kills Billy's parents, leaving he and his brother out in the snow.

Fast forward several years to an orphanage and we find poor Billy, now with a severe Santa-phobia. Like all church run orphanages in movies, the Mother Superior is unsympathetic to the boy's plight and treats him like a weirdo.

Billy then grows up and lands a job as the storeroom boy for a local toy shop where we get a jolly montage of his few months there.

Seemingly unaware of Billy's past or his dislike of Santa, he is asked by the store to be Santa when the usual one can't be there. Billy reluctantly obliges, but it turns out to be too much for him and he cracks, going on a murderous rampage, shouting "naughty" as he kills everybody.

Not original in any particular way, again our killer has a sadness to him that makes you almost sympathetic to him. The poor guy needed some help. He also needed not to have a holiday temp job in a toy shop at Christmas.... And maybe a girlfriend... Anyway, while not in itself anything ground breaking, the controversy it caused all over the place is very interesting, especially considering that this film was not the original killer Santa movie.

The film does well to set up some rather well rounded characters; some of the nuns and the shop owner are particularly memorable. There are also some good B-movie action scenes and some lovely overacting from Billy when he sees the mall Santa.

A Christmas B-movie to enjoy, and nothing more.

[Image: Slayride films]