Judge Daryl Loomis is severely allergic to Ho-Ho-Hokum.
Our reviews of Silent Night, Deadly Night (published December 17th, 2007) and Silent Night, Deadly Night / Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (published October 24th, 2003) are also available.
You've made it through Halloween, now try and survive Christmas.
Well, friends, the holiday season is upon us and you know what that means: holiday horror! Surprisingly, there's plenty to choose from, though not a whole lot of it is very good. This year, though, I have a gift for everyone, a Christmas double feature. One is the second best holiday-themed slasher and the other is one of the funniest, though quite terrible. The first two entries in the Silent Night, Deadly Night series are a great gift idea for your friends and family who enjoy feeling bad around the holidays.
Facts of the Case
Silent Night, Deadly Night: Billy's a good boy who loves Christmas, but on one fateful Christmas Eve while driving home from Grampa's house, they see Santa on the highway next to a broken down car. They stop to help, but he wasn't in need, he was looking for murder. With his parents now dead, he and his baby brother are sent to an orphanage, where they're routinely abused by the nuns. Now 18, Billy (Robert Brian Wilson) leaves to start his life and finds a job in a hardware store. That Christmas, his boss makes him play the store Santa, which awakens the holiday maniac inside him, at which point he goes on a bloody Christmas rampage.
Silent Night, Deadly Night 2: It been a few years since Billy's rampage, and his baby brother, Ricky (Eric Freeman), is all grown up and ready to strike out from his foster parents, where he went after the orphanage closed. He's even more damaged than his brother, though, and doesn't even need a holiday to spark his own violent insanity. All it takes for him is seeing something bad go down around something that is red, and it's on. So, yeah, another rampage.
The original Silent Night, Deadly Night is a violent, nasty piece of holiday fare that works pretty well overall. Sure, it's cheap and the acting is pretty amateurish, but there are some creative kills and a very mean spirit. There's hardly a person who survives and those who do are thoroughly scarred by it, which we'll see in the sequel.
Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 is one of the sorriest excuses for a movie that I've ever seen. According to the commentary, it was always destined to be this way, because the group funding the pictures basically just wanted a re-edit of the original, which doesn't make sense in the first place, but that was the directive. What it means for the movie is that the first 40 minutes of this 80 minute picture are a recap of the original, using the same footage around a framing story about Billy's little brother talking to a psychologist in jail.
Then, the final 40 minutes are a genuinely mock-worthy film. Eric Freeman puts in one of the worst performances you will ever see and, if you can stand all the violence (because they recap all 13 murders from the original, the body count stands somewhere above 20), you really do want to see it. It's brutally awful and completely hilarious, along with most of the rest of the film. It's the opposite of good cinema and worthless except for the laughter, but that makes it worth quite a bit.
Anchor Bay's re-release of these two winners, which they've subtitled "Christmas Survival Double Feature" (ironic, since there are essentially no survivors), is much better than I expected. Both films look really good, much better than they did on video, and much better than they probably deserve. However, if you have the 2003 release of these two films, the only benefit is that they're now on two discs rather a single flipper. Still, I didn't have it and hadn't seen either of these movies in years, so I'm happy. Silent Night, Deadly Night is uncut, with six extra minutes over the theatrical release. That means portions that don't look great, and the uncut footage is noticeably worse for wear. Otherwise, the transfer is very strong, with good detail and color. The transfer on the sequel may be a little worse, but it's a far cheaper movie, so that's understandable. The single channel mono channels on both aren't anything special, but it's clear enough and just fine.
Extras are fairly good. On the original, we have a phone interview with director Charles E. Sellier, Jr., who is more known for his religious work, which is really interesting, a poster and still gallery, and a bank of quotes from concerned parents and outraged critics, which is hilarious. The sequel gets an audio commentary with writer/director Lee Harry, writer Joseph H. Earle, and star James Newman. They're pretty detailed, which is fairly surprising given the film's level, a trailer, a still gallery, and a DVD-ROM copy of the original screenplay, though I don't know why anyone would want to read it.
As far as Christmas themed horror is concerned, the only movie that really bests Silent Night, Deadly Night is Bob Clark's original and classic Black Christmas. It's not a classic of the genre, but it's definitely entertaining with some good kills and the ability to still shock and outrage. Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 is pretty entertaining, too, but in a totally different way. It's Mystery Science Theater 3000 material and, for that, most definitely worth seeing.
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Perp Profile, Silent Night, Deadly Night
Studio: Anchor Bay
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• Audio Interview
Scales of Justice, Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2
Perp Profile, Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2
Studio: Anchor Bay
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