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The F*cking Black Sheep: Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

12.18.2013by: Ryan Doom

THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!

Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
Directed by Charles E. Sellier Jr.

“Silent Night, Deadly Night reeks of desperately cheap and lazy filmmaking.”

Sometimes odd experiences can happen with repeated viewings of movies. Watch one once and sometimes you dig the hell out of the thing. Maybe even wonder (to no one) why they don’t make ‘em like they used to. Then, when rewatching it a few years later, you wonder what the hell was wrong with your brain to ever consider it a good movie. 

This is what happened recently with Silent Night, Deadly Night, the 1984 supposed cult classic.

When I first saw it years ago while reviewing DVDs here at Arrow in the Head, I bought in, enjoying its pure excess of stupidness, nudity, and bloodshed. And while my thoughts on the holy trinity of horror haven’t changed, my opinion of said movie sure has. I actually had thought about using it for a Test of Time article, but I decided it was just too dumb and too cheap to have anything classic about it.

Now, you’ve ever read any other of my articles before, it should be obvious that I love a dumb exploitation film as much as the next guy. This film has plenty of dumb, but what ruins it comes from what this could have been with just a little more effort.

Actually, there’s plenty of good and plenty potential about the uncut Silent Night, Deadly Night. I really like its attempt at creating an epic, tragic story of poor Billy, whose life is just shit from beginning to end. We see various points of his life, from visiting his demented grandfather, to him witnessing his family murdered and his mama raped and stabbed by a dude dressed up as Santa. That’s kinda f*cked up. Then he lives out his life in horrible orphanages until he lands a gig at a toy store, where he...well, kills a lot of people. 

What’s weird though is with all that story, giving us years and years of a character’s life, this thing feels too damn long even at 80 minutes. It’s like after the idea was hatched…well, the writers didn’t know what else to do beside start killing folks and having a whole like a hot naked women running around. I’m not complaining, but shit, it still has to be mildly entertaining. Silent Night, Deadly Night is one of the few films where our main character is a tragic mass murderer as it really wants to be a psychological exploration for abuse and childhood horror. It WANTS to be that, but after a solid start, it just runs out of ideas.

Everything about Silent Night, Deadly Night reeks of desperately cheap and lazy filmmaking. It not only lacked the depth it could have had, but also the fun that this kinda horror needs. It was a good idea that could have been THE definitive Christmas movie to make us all shit our pants at the sight of Santa. It could have been smart and stupid. Instead, we get poor Billy going around killing folks screaming "Punish!"

Even worse...that terrifying montage with Billy hard at work at Ira’s Toys store while the Family Ties or Growing Pains sounding “The Warm Side of the Door” plays at the 27-minute mark. It makes zero sense. If it wasn’t for the excellent gore and even better boob ratio, Silent Night, Deadly Night would end up unwatchable as sometimes nude chicks and bloody murder isn't enough to keep a horror movie rolling. In this case, it helps...a lot...but it stops short of what it could have been.

 

GET SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT DVD HERE

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2:52PM on 12/19/2013
Doom i thought the whole crew at AITH was down for SNDN!!! What happened?
This movie is a blast. it reminds me of sleepaway camp in all the right ways.

PS Garbage Day! (i know wrong entry, but someone had to say it)
Doom i thought the whole crew at AITH was down for SNDN!!! What happened?
This movie is a blast. it reminds me of sleepaway camp in all the right ways.

PS Garbage Day! (i know wrong entry, but someone had to say it)
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2:48PM on 12/18/2013
One of my favorite 80's slashers, right up next to Friday the 13th Part 4. The back story is dark, gritty, & disturbing, and the murders are fun. The ending is great too.
One of my favorite 80's slashers, right up next to Friday the 13th Part 4. The back story is dark, gritty, & disturbing, and the murders are fun. The ending is great too.
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11:06AM on 12/18/2013
I think the movie succeeded in terms of presenting shock value. Just that opening scene of having young Billy witnessing the death of his parents by crazy guy in Santa Clause suit is quite messed up. It may start out slow but I think the movie picked up the pace pretty good once Billy snapped at the toy store. It's a good Christmas horror film but not as effective as Black Christmas.
I think the movie succeeded in terms of presenting shock value. Just that opening scene of having young Billy witnessing the death of his parents by crazy guy in Santa Clause suit is quite messed up. It may start out slow but I think the movie picked up the pace pretty good once Billy snapped at the toy store. It's a good Christmas horror film but not as effective as Black Christmas.
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11:03AM on 12/18/2013
False. It's a sleaz-terpiece and actually has more psychologically going for it than most other slashers. The sleaze still takes control, but the bigger picture is there.
False. It's a sleaz-terpiece and actually has more psychologically going for it than most other slashers. The sleaze still takes control, but the bigger picture is there.
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