Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
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Critic Reviews for Silent Night, Deadly Night
"Silent Night, Deadly Night" takes off from the notion that Santa Claus is an ax murderer, but it never quite lives up to the delicious perversity of its premise.
If you're the sort who'll get a kick out of watching St. Nicholas hang a man with a string of Christmas lights, or impale a topless woman on a set of deer antlers, well, Silent Night, Deadly Night is definitely the film for you.
The psycho Santa embodies Reagan-era conservatism, then at its peak, mocking the strict discipline of compassionless, law-and-order, moral-policing reactionaries...If the Gipper was post-Carter America's Santa Claus, he was also its Krampus.
It had its moment and then vanished, like all garbage does.
At least one of the better slasher films made in the States in the mid-'80s, though the degree to which that's an actual compliment is debatable.
Audience Reviews for Silent Night, Deadly Night
Mostly notorious for its box-art cover of Saint Nick crawling down a chimney with an instrument of death, Silent Night, Deadly Night is another holiday-themed body-count which dispels yuletide spirit with an olive-black streak. When the catatonic grandfather breaks his speechless spell and tearfully raves about not being "naughty" or Santa will sow his wrath, it's sincerely spine-tingling when he snaps back into a comatose state (and it could be a figment of Billy's fractured psyche). Shortly afterwards, the film vaults headlong into tasteless terrain with a Santa Claus robber massacring Billy's family and raping his mother. Quite the yuletide ides of March. Then years later, Billy draws a macabre depiction of a decapitated reindeer and the Mother Superior at the orphanage doesn't correlate it with the trauma from before. As a drive-in movie, the breast quotient is present as is the mutilating slayings but what a film of this nature stipulates is a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor along the Neil LaBute wavelength. Instead the film is solemnly grotesque in its Flowers in the Attic-like child abuse in the guise of corporal punishment (Billy is cinctured to his bed with bed sheets after a ghastly nightmare). A montage to Morgan Ames' "The Warm Side of the Door" is the most pleasurable segment of the movie because it nostalgically harkens back to 80's sitcoms and don't contain a frame of untoward behavior. "By the time this party's over, you'll think you are Santy Claus" would be a hilariously prescient one-liner if the direction wasn't so boorish.
Considering that there have been far worst films since its release in 1984. I understand why this film may have gotten such flack, but this isn't the only Christmas themed horror film. Black Christmas came out in 1974, and although it didn't include a killer Santa, it still had a killer killing people during the Christmas period. Personally I don't see what all the fuss is about. There are far more violent films out there in the genre and they're lauded and acclaimed as reinventing the genre. As a whole, Silent Night, Deadly Night is no different than any other Slasher film. Aside from the Christmas theme, there's nothing truly different. This is a fun cheesy good time where you see an evil Santa kill off people. I always hated Santa Claus, so using his costume for the killer didn't offend me. Like I said, I understand why the film got vilified, but if you think about it very carefully, it's a pretty silly premise for a Slasher film, and it's not one to take seriously whatsoever. This will surely appeal to fans of the genre, and along with Black Christmas remains a classic of the genre. This film is also a reminder that mainstream critics should take a chill pill and realize that these films aren't meant for them. By today's standards it's hard to believe that this was ever controversial. Considering the Saw franchise and Hostel trilogy, Silent Night, Deadly Night is a fairly tame film.
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