#251 -- 13 Days of Creepmas Day 5: Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
Director: Charles E. Sellier, Jr.
Once upon a time, there was a little boy named Billy. His grandfather was a crazy old man who told him a scary story about Jolly St. Nick. He told him that Santa would only bring toys to the good children; but to the naughty children, he would only bring punishment. That night, Billy saw his parents murdered by a robber in a Santa suit. He and his baby brother, Ricky, were sent to an orphanage to live with a mean old nun, and Billy grew up with a severe phobia of the fat man in the red suit. When Billy got old enough, he got a job at a local toy store. He seemed fairly normal at first (and pretty good looking, I may say so); that was until Christmas time rolled around. His phobia had not diminished at all. When his boss asked him to play Santa for the children, things really got ugly. They put some alcohol in him at an after-work party, and Billy started to believe he really was Santa. He knew that he needed to punish all the naughty boys and girls. Axe in hand, he set out to rid the world of the bad ones, and bring gifts (terrible gifts, but gifts nonetheless) to those who were good.
This is another one that I'd heard plenty of good things about. It's been called one of the greatest Christmas horror movies out there. I know, I know--that's not really saying a whole lot, but it still had me intrigued. I will tell you, though, it's pretty damn good. If you're a fan of '80s slasher movies, then this one is right up your alley. Which is exactly why I liked it. There were some truly tense scenes (like Billy asking a little girl whether or not she had been naughty), some laugh-worthy scenes, and some genuinely funny moments (like a ten year old Billy completely knocking out a grown ass man). All together, it was a very entertaining movie.
The characters. There were several characters that I found interesting. First, and most obvious, was Billy. I'm always intrigued by the killers, so long as they're done well, and Billy's story was definitely a good one. He suffered a very tragic and traumatic experience at a very young age. He grew up with a phobia that almost no one else had. He was completely alone. It only took that one little thing to set him off and send him on a killing spree. Billy was a very sympathetic killer, which everyone knows I love. I thought that Mother Superior, who ran the orphanage was a good character as well. Though she was a horrible old lady, the part was played well, and she was truly disturbing--almost more so than Billy. It was this lady who helped Bill turn into what he became. She believed firmly in punishing children in order to make them behave. When he was a child, she would spank Billy with a belt, and she even tied him to his bed so he couldn't leave his room after he had a nightmare. She assured them that punishment was a necessary and good thing for a child. So, it's really no wonder Billy turned out the way he did. There was one other nun, Sister Margaret, who was a very good character. She was very nice to Billy. She stood up for him and tried to help him out on a daily basis. From the expressions on her face, I could tell what she was thinking. She didn't want to work for the evil Mother Superior; but she knew that, if she left, there would be no one around to stand up for the children. I was also interested in Billy's little brother, Ricky. He was a baby when their parents were killed, and we hardly saw him again throughout the entire movie. I was interested in how he turned out, which was partially revealed at the end, and it was spooky as well. It also hinted at a sequel, and I've come to realize that there are actually quite a few.
The kills. They were true slasher-movie kills: inventive, but sometimes kind of cheesy. Like strangling a man with some Christmas lights, or impaling a woman on the antlers of a stuffed deer (that woman was Linnea Quigley, by the way). Of course, they kind of show just how messed up Billy was. If he just wanted to kill these people, he would have just killed them. But he wanted to make sure they knew they were being punished. The gore, surprisingly, was not over the top, but it was done well.
Some of the dialogue was cheesy, but that is to be expected. I had no problem with that. When Billy killed, he yelled "Punish!" at his victims. It was either that or, "Naughty!" Sure, it's funny, but really it only made him look stupid. He wasn't a dumb guy, though, so I'm not sure why they decided to make him speak like a neanderthal before he killed. It kind of took away from his scariness, though he wasn't really all that scary to begin with. So, really, the bad's not all that bad, it doesn't hurt the movie at all.
The movie was actually hated by many when it was first released, I think mostly because it depicted a killer Santa Claus. It was yanked from theaters, thanks to a bunch of tight-ass pissed off mothers. But it's really not that bad. The biggest problem I have with it is that it's not suspenseful. We know right off the bat who the killer is, so there is no wondering. No big revelation. The only thing we had to wonder about was how he would kill the next victim. But other than that, I say that it's a very well made movie, and a wonderful addition to my Creepmas movie list.
Day five of Creepmas went pretty well for me. I saw a movie I'd heard a lot of praise for, and I really enjoyed it. I hope your fifth day goes as well as mine.