Silent Night, Bloody Night Reviews
Murders in a creaky old house happen to take place near Christmas Eve, but this didn't actually have a lot to do with the holiday, despite the lurid title.
So my enjoyment of this movie may be slightly skewed because of the terrible quality. I have no idea if there exists a better quality version, but it doesn't matter because I have very little interest in seeing this movie again anytime soon. This movie was flat out boring and a bit confusing (but I think that's because I was nearly nodding off and my mind was wandering while watching this snoozer).
Now, this movie isn't completely a loss. I think it needs to be given a bit of a pass. This movie pre-dates Black Christmas and Halloween. This was years before slasher movies became prominent and there wasn't really a formula to follow for success. So this movie was sort of exploring new territory and was doing something new at the time. It should be commended for that at least.
Still, the movie is just too boring and the horrible transfer I had to watch (which was so black at times I couldn't even tell what was going on) make this just such a dreadful experience. The only enjoyment I had was noticing a young Mary Woronov, John Carradine, and Candy Darling. Some of the few minutes with the killer are okay, but forgettable. Can't recommend this one.
SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT : A once forgotten film made and lumped on to the Drive- In movie circuit in the mid 1970's. After its initial Drive-In run the film quickly disappeared in to near obscurity until it rescue on late night T.V movie shows, such as ELVIRA'S MOVIE MACABRE in the mid 1980's. Thanks to that the yuletide horror film SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT started gain a cult following which was enhanced by its Home Media Realise. Produced by none other than Troma Studios Co-founder Lloyd Kaufman; SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT is now viewed by some as a precursor to the Slasher Movie sub-genre.
PLOT: Opening on Christmas Eve 1950 in a local great house in a small US town, a man was burned to death in the house. As a result the estate is passed to his grandson, fast-forward to the 1970s' where the estate is up for sale much to delight of the town's residents. However when killings start to happen on the property around the festive season, the buried past is soon resurfaces.
THOUGHTS: As I previously mentioned some view this film as a precursor to the slasher movie genre along with another 1974 Yuletide Horror classic BLACK CHRISTMAS. And to some extent yes that is correct, the POV shots, the killer is seldom seen, and of course a body count; SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT is a slasher film through and through. However a bizarre mute performance by John Carradine communicating by a bell makes this film all the more memorable. 70%
Starring: Mary Woronov, James Patterson, Patrick O'Neal, Walter Able, Astrid Heeren, and John Carradine
When Jack (Patterson) moves to sell the mansion he inherited from his grandfather, a past believed to be dead and buried returns to haunt the living with furious, bloody vengeance. Poor Diane's (Woronov) Christmas giftlist will be reduced to virtually no-one by night's end.
"Slient Night, Bloody Night" is not as overtly Christmas-themed as the title might imply, but it is a great little proto-slasherflick and quite possibly the first horror film to flirt with a holiday theme. (In fact, it might be more than a proto-slasherfilm. It's got all the elements that are present in "Halloween", except for fornicating teenagers. We do, however, get an unfaithful lawyer (O'Neal) and his horny secretary (Heeren).
The bodycount is low by modern slasher-movie standards, but every death is shocking and unexpected. Although I had a vague notion of what I was in for, the first murders took me completely by surprise.
It's a fast-moving film with a barebones plot, although I wish it could have been a little less bare-bones. I'm still wondering why Jack had to "borrow" his lawyer's Jaguar when he appears in the story. How did he get to the mansion in the first place if he didn't have a car? I also feel that the framing sequence was an odd choice... telling the movie as a flashback undermines a bit of the suspense.
Still, as an example of a thriller/horror movie that was part of the cinematic evolution that led to the slasherflick subgenre, "Silent Night, Bloody Night" is far better than several of its contempraries.
Another Xmas horror film? Let's see how this turns out...
We start with a woman (B-movie high priestess Mary Woronov) looking over the gournds of a large house. As she tells the tale of man who built the house (he got barbecued on Christmas Eve). Somehow the officials declare it an accident. Start title credits.
Don't you just love movies told in flashback? :rolleyes:
The dude leaves the house to his grandson with the hope it stands alone, untouched "to remind the world of it's inhumanity & cruelty". Finally the house looks like it's about to be sold when a mysterious someone escapes a mental hospital upon hearing the news. A lawyer (Peter Lawford like-a-look Patrick O'Neal) comes to the house to close on the deal.
O'Neal goes to the City Hall and meets the unusual city elders; including the apparently mute local news publisher (John Carradine-yea!), the dumpy switchboard operator; the creepy sherriff; and the mayor. As it turns out they want to buy the house; but they have to cough up $50,000 in cash by the next day. Obviously, there's more to the house than the town's folk let on. Of course, the lawyer decides to spend the night in the creepy house with his girlfriend (after talking to his wife on the phone, of course).
Though O'Neal would probably change his mind if he knew the nutso who broke out of the mental hospital was there already. Oops! Oddly enough, O'Neal has never met the grandson (another mystery).
Soon the blood starts flowing. The violence isn't graphic but sudden; also the blood is realistic adding to the shock. In a bit of a surprise, the story actually starts to get interesting at this point as someone claims to be the homebuilder's daughter (the escapee from the hospital??).
Next, we cut to the mayor's house where we find his daughter (the aforementioned Woronov) pulling the gun on a stranger - which turns out to be the Grandson (a literally dying James Patterson - see trivia) who's selling the house.
Yeah, the subplots are moving fast and furious here (eye protection may be required). I'm sure it would be more interesting except the film stock REALLY SUCKS!!! It simply becomes distracting watching all the scratches on the film. Oh well.
The bodies start piling up as the mystery deepens. The deaths are telegraphed (if someone is by themselves in the picture, they're the next to die) but still the deaths can be sudden and shocking.
A stated before, the film quality is very sub-par (this thing looks like it sat in a somebody's attic for 20 years). The sounds not that much better, but at least doesn't sound incomprehensible. The editing is not very good and jumps in spots. The camerawork, despite the crappy film stock; is actually pretty good - there's a certain claustrophobic (and almost gothic) feel to the film that doesn't feel forced.
For the most part, the actors do quite well with what they've been given. Carradine doesn't get to do much here (and has no lines) but is still adequate. Woronov is our proxy in this movie and engaging enough for us to care about her (providing a much needed anchor for the film to rest upon). The other characters though lack enough depth to prove interesting in their own right, but manage to move the movie along.
On the other hand, the story itself proves to far more engaging that one would expect in a 'slasher' flick. I was surprised. The hints that fall are subtle and leave you guessing as to hidden history of the house, the grandson, and the town itself. The mystery is revealed in the last third of the film in a 'flashback in flashback' that is shot in an almost ghostly manner (like rummaging thru somebody's ugly memories). The ending itself is effective in it's own right.
[b][i][u]Fun rating[/u][/i][/b]: 8 - far more effective and enjoyable than I ever expected. Despite it's title has little to do in the way of Christmas. The biggest distraction is the poor video/audio quality otherwise could actually vie for a 10.
[b][i][u]Interest rating[/u][/i][/b]: 8 - even with it's current quality a must have for most horror fans. Fans of Hammer films would probably enjoy it despite it's modern setting. Biggest problem - finding a decent copy. If a remastered or cleaned up copy exists: buy it. Don't go cheap. Apparently, there are actually WORSE transfers than the one I have. Casual film fans actually would enjoy this film. A 'slasher' film with a story.
NOTE: It has been argued that this is a direct precursor to "Halloween" and thus the entire slasher genre. While I don't know enough of the genre to make any argument for or against; I can at least see a point there.
[b][i][u]TOTAL RATING:[/u] 8[/i][/b]
[i]Trivia time: Though released in 1974, the movie was filmed most likely in late 1971-early 1972 as this was James Patterson's final role (he died of cancer on August 19, 1972). Unfortunate.[/i]