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Case Number 03442: Small Claims Court

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Silent Night, Deadly Night / Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2

Anchor Bay // 1987 // 173 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // October 24th, 2003

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All Rise...

Editor's Note

Our reviews of Silent Night, Deadly Night (published December 17th, 2007) and Silent Night, Deadly Night / Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (published December 7th, 2012) are also available.

The Charge

You've made it through Halloween, now try and survive Christmas!

The Case

Welcome to the holiday from hell. In the original (and now infamous) Silent Night, Deadly Night, we're given a glimpse of what Santa may have been like had he been brought up by drunken crack whores. Poor little Billy (Robert Brian Wilson) can't seem to catch a break. First his parents are slaughtered (and mother raped) by a criminal in a Santa suit at Christmas. Then Billy's send to an orphanage where he's verbally and physically abused by nuns, especially the bitter Mother Superior (Lilyan Chauvin). After getting a job at a local convenience store, Billy suddenly goes all wacky koo-koo when he sees one of the store clerk girls getting sexually abused by one of his co-workers. Furious, Billy does what any other sane person would do in this situation: dons a Santa suit and strings the perpetrator up by his neck with a strand of holiday twinkle lights. Then he slices up the poor girl, murders his boss, and heads off to the orphanage to give Mother Superior an early Christmas gift (if you know what I mean, and I think you do). The eggnog will run red this year as Billy "sleighs" everyone in his path.

In Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2, we're given a short recap of the first film (if you consider nearly half the frickin' movie short) and introduced to Billy's insane brother, Ricky (Eric Freeman in one of the worst performances ever captured on film). It seems that Ricky was just as damaged by his family's death and brother's demise, and Dr. Bloom (James Newton) is just the man to help him work through his demons (or something like that). The story is told in flashback with Ricky and Dr. Bloom sitting inside a studio set…err, I mean hospital room recording Ricky's recollections. It seems that one of his girlfriend's ex-boyfriends set off Ricky's temper, which then spurs on Ricky to don a Santa suit, like his brother, and head off into the night in search of mean old Mother Superior. Not a creature will be stirring…except for Ricky and his axe!

If It's A Wonderful Life is rented out at your local Blockbuster, whatever you do, don't attempt to pick up something like Silent Night, Deadly Night in its place. If I felt like jumping on the bandwagon, I could discuss how both of these films are abominations to the Christmas holiday and just plain sacrilegious. No, what I'd really like to write about is not how offensive each of these movies are but how poorly they've been put together. Had each film not included beginning or end credits, I'd have assumed Chilean spider monkeys had pasted together strips of film with their saliva into the messes we see before us. Starting with Silent Night, Deadly Night, we're presented with atrociously bad acting and a story as complex as an episode of Saved by the Bell (which, I might add, looks like a Shakespeare production by comparison). I'm not sure why the producers and writers picked Christmas as the film's setting—I don't know about you, but the last thing that sends shivers up my spine is garland and eight tiny reindeer. But the fools who made this film felt otherwise, and so with the original Silent Night, Deadly Night we get Santa boringly running around with an axe spewing forth such whimsical one liners as "naughty!," then dispatching with his victims heads. How lovely. And yet the real treat is Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2, a movie so horribly executed that it comes close to being Ed Wood-ian in nature. Eric Freeman's performance must be seen to be believed—never before has a deranged killer been so bad at acting deranged. Freeman snarls his lines as if someone wrote them on a cue card in BIG LETTERS JUST LIKE THIS. And when, exactly, was a character able to recall a flashback from when he was less than ten months old? Not only that, but flashback to another character's events he wasn't even present for?!? At the very least this sequel veers more into general slasher territory and, for the most part, stays away from the holiday themes, though that's like saying I'd rather have a hot poker inserted into my anus instead of my nuts crushed with a meat hammer. If you're a horror fan like me, you'll be sorely disappointed in the gore effects for both films—aside of a nicely done head being fried by a car battery, the effects all appear to have been cobbled together by Tom Savini's younger, retarded brother. I could go on and on, but the bottom line is this: though they've gained some notoriety in the years since their release, Silent Night, Deadly Night and its sequel aren't worth the wrapping paper they're printed on.

Bah, humbug.

Both Silent Night, Deadly Night and Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 are presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. For those of you with widescreen TVs you'll be happy to know that you can now watch Santa stalk nuns in glorious widescreen! Actually, I'm sure fans will be happy to finally see these flicks in their original aspect ratio, even if they aren't in great shape. In the original Silent Night, Deadly Night, Anchor Bay has spliced in deleted footage to make for the most complete version available, but not without a cost: much of the extra footage is in rough shape with bleeding colors and much grain in the image. The rest of the transfer looks good, but not great—the colors are generally sharp but blacks are slightly gray. Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2, comprised mainly of old footage from the first film, is about on par with the first film. Dirt and grain pops up from time to time but overall the image is far better looking than expected. These transfers aren't great but they're the best that fans will ever see. Both soundtracks are presented in Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono and…well, they're mono. The sound is clear and well heard, which is disappointing since the dialogue was so atrocious. No alternate subtitles have been included on this disc.

Shockingly, Anchor Bay was able to wrangle up a few folks who made these movies to help with the supplemental materials. The best is an entertaining commentary track for Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 by writer/director Lee Henry, actor James Newman, and writer Joseph H. Earle. All of the participants realize how bad this film is, and while they poke fun at it, they also have an affinity for the genre (even if they've made a pretty cruddy movie). On the original film, there's an audio interview with director Charles E. Sellier, Jr., discussing what brought him to the material and his thoughts about the finial film. Finally there is a theatrical trailer for Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2, some clippings of outrage by various critics and citizens, a DVD-ROM version of the screenplay for the sequel, and a poster and still gallery for both films.

FYI: The most bizarre moment occurs in Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2: Ricky and his girlfriend head to a theater to see a movie which ends up being the original Silent Night, Deadly Night. The plot paradoxes this creates are staggering and, sadly, far more interesting than the movies themselves.

A merry Christmas to all and to all a dead night!

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 35

Perp Profile

Studio: Anchor Bay
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
• None
Running Time: 173 Minutes
Release Year: 1987
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Bad
• Christmas
• Horror

Distinguishing Marks

• Part 1: Audio Interview with Director Charles E. Sellier, Jr.
• Part 1: Santa's Stocking of Outrage
• Part 2: Commentary with Writer/Director Lee Harry, Writer Joseph H. Earle, and Actor James Newman
• Part 2: Original Screenplay (DVD-ROM only)
• Poster and Still Galleries
• Theatrical Trailers

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