SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT 1 & 2
Reviewed by: Zombie Boy
Charles E. Sellier, Jr, Lee Harry
Robert Brian Wilson
What's it about
A really great character study on a damaged boy's transmogrification into a killer Santa Claus, and its crap sequel.
Is it good movie?
SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT was quite controversial when it was released. On the one hand, I don't quite understand it: it was not the first film to essay a killer santa, and it really isn't terribly exploitive. On the other hand, that controversy garnered it a near mythical status, and the more people who seek it out and watch it, the better. It's a great film.
The beginning is a bit rocky, plot-wise, as young Billy's family is torn apart, literally, by a scenery-chewing villain dressed as Santa. But once you get through that, the film is actually a rather poignant character study on what that trauma did to young Billy. He really, really wants to be good, but he can't seem to please the Mother Superior at the oprhanage where he finds himself, and so becomes convinced he is bad. Naughty. And needs punishment. So as an adult, when chance puts him in the unfortunate role of store Santa, his switch flips and he exorcizes his demons by punishing the naughty.
As I said, the movie isn't very exploitive. Sure, he stalks around town mudering people while dressed as Santa. But he follows a pretty clear trajectory that takes him through the people with whom he works, working backwards towards the oprhanage. He does make one stop for some people peripheral to the plot, but that includes imapling Linnea Quigley on some antlers, so I let it go. For the most part it is a surprisingly introspective film, and a god bet for a non-traditional Christmas viewing.
I'm going to keep it brief on the sequel: it sucks. It concerns Billy's little brother, in an insane asylum for his own series of murders. It is almost half flashback to the original, and what new footage there is is stupid and crappily shot. About the only good thing I can say for the film is that it consistently and evenly gets worse as it goes along. You won't get bored with how poorly-crafted the whole endeavor is. With any luck I will never be forced to sit through it ever again.
Video / Audio
Video: Both films are widescreen, and listed as 1.85:1. The image on the sequel is decent, as is most of the original, though it is interspersed with footage from an old print in an effort to make the film as complete as possible. The quality of those few scenes is much poorer, as one would expect.
Audio: Both films are in mono, with no alternate language or subtitle tracks.
Audio Interview with director Charles E. Sellier, Jr.: This is a 35-minute telephone interview with Sellier, which is pretty poor quality. But Sellier is pretty open and honest about the film, and entertaining and engaging.
There are also two photo galleries: a poster and still gallery, and Santa's Stocking of Outrage, showing clippings from newspapers all over the country decrying the nature of the film. Pretty funny stuff.
Somewhat unbelievably, for me, this film has a Commentary with director Lee Harry, writer Joseph H. Clark, and actor James Newman. The guys are pretty aware of the movie that they made, and are appropriately honest and self-deprecating about it. Still, a pretty flimsy amount of new film to commentate upon.
The extras menu is rounded out by a trailer, a poster and stills gallery, and a DVD-ROM screenplay.
SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT is a much better film than it is given credit for, and I honestly feel is a compelling and poignant character study on childhood trauma. Undoubtedly the concept of it being Santa-centric was put forth with the idea of pushing boundaries, but the director pulled a fast one and made a good film. The sequel, when not showing huge tracts of the original film, is pretty much worthless.