Normally it’s not good to start a review of a movie by referring to another person’s review. But let’s make an exception so you can truly get a sense of how Silent Night, Deadly Night became a holiday legend when it was released on November 9, 1984. Critics didn’t merely want people to save their money, they wanted the film annihilated. Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert weren’t satisfied with just giving it thumbs down. They wanted blood for a movie that dared to have Santa suits used for evil.
Siskel’s quote of “What’s next, the Easter Bunny as a child molester?” became legendary. Sadly no one has made that movie yet. Studios normally love reviews that complain that a film is too nasty since what teen can resist the movie grown ups hate? Amazingly enough, TriStar caved to pressure and pulled the movie from the screens before Christmas. In what can only be called a Hollywood miracle, they gave the rights to the film back to the producers. Silent Night, Deadly Night didn’t vanish from our collective consciousness. The producers re-issued the film to theaters although it was in May. This probably was done in order to have the home video tapes ready to rent in December. Now this holiday season you can sit back with the whole family and enjoy Silent Night, Deadly Night: Collector’s Edition.
Back in 1971 little Billy Chapman and his family paid a holiday visit to his grandfather in a nursing home. The old guy tells his grandson that besides giving gifts to good children, Jolly Saint Nick punishes the naughty. It’s a bit of a trauma that only gets amped up as the ride home includes finding Santa stranded on the road. Things go extremely bad for the family. Billy and his brother end up in an orphanage. While there, the bitter nun demands Billy sit on Santa’s lap. This pushes Billy even further into his Santa hating rage. Years later, an adult Billy gets out of the orphanage and lands a job at a toy store. During store’s Christmas Eve sale, Billy is tricked into wearing the Santa suit for little kids. This really goes bad quick as Billy becomes the vengeful Santa. He goes on a rampage punishing the naughty in various ways making it a bloody Christmas Eve. Will anyone be able to stop this Santa?
Silent Night, Deadly Night is the proper relief for anyone driven nuts by a relative constantly watching Hallmark Channel heartwarming Christmas movies. The film shows how people inflict the holiday on people those not wanting to participate. Nobody wants to even consider that Billy doesn’t need Santa in his life. He especially doesn’t need to dress up as Santa. The film pays off as an exploitation flick with the gory effects letting the screen drip red. Even after 33 years, I can imagine Siskel still furious at this film.
Silent Night, Deadly Night contains both the theatrical version (82 minutes) and unrated extended cut (85 minutes). The missing moments included in the extended cut were taken from videotape so you can easily tell the new footage. Both audio commentary tracks are on the extended cut.
Last year Scream Factory gave us Black Christmas and now they’ve upgraded Silent Night, Deadly Night so you can finally have a night of holiday fear after a couple rounds of egg nog.
The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The 1080p transfer brings out the holiday joy on the screen. The audio is 2.0 DTS-HD MA. The sound mix is fine for both the holiday songs and the screams of Billy’s victims. The movie is subtitled.
R-Rated Theatrical Trailer (1:34) is the red band glory. People got angry that they twisted “Silent Night” with violent images.
VHS Trailer (0:30) is from when USA Home Video released it.
TV Spots (1:28) pushes how they tried to ban the movie. The Asian trailer is more intense than the red band trailer.
Radio Spot (0:36) won’t be get played on your Great Aunt Anna’s Christmas music channel.
Slay Bells Ring: The Story Of Silent Night, Deadly Night (45:51) features interviews With Writer Michael Hickey, Co-Executive Producers Scott J. Schneid And Dennis Whitehead, Editor/Second Unit Director Michael Spence, Composer Perry Botkin, And Actor Robert Brian Wilson. Schneid talks of how he used his Harvard education and connections to get this project going since he wanted to be a producer and not an agent. A Harvard grad wrote the original script wasn’t good, but he liked the idea of Santa slaughtering people on Christmas Eve. Writer Michael Hickey adapted his love of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining into the new script.
Oh Deer! (21:50) catches up with the iconic scream queen Linnea Quigley. She reflects on being hung from antlers.
Christmas In July – Silent Night, Deadly Night Locations – Then And Now (10:00) goes around Salt Lake City and Heber City, Utah. They let us know what the buildings really were.
Audio Commentary tracks include on with actor Robert Brian Wilson And Co-Executive Producer Scott J. Schneid. A second has Michael Hickey, Perry Boykin, Scott J. Schneid, and Michael Spence. They are amazed at how this has become an alternate holiday favorite.
Audio Interview (58:11) is a director Charles E. Sellier, Jr. on Deadpit Radio. This covers for his lack of commentary track.
Santa’s Stocking Of Outrage (4:31) includes quotes from nasty reviews and letters from upset people.
Poster And Still Gallery (0:58) covers the shocking picture of Santa going down a chimney with an axe.
Scream Factory presents Silent Night, Deadly Night: Collector’s Edition. Directed by: Charles E. Sellier Jr. Written by: Michael Hickey. Starring: Lilyan Chauvin, Gilmer McCormick, Toni Nero, Robert Brian Wilson & Linnea Quigley. Running time: 82 minutes. Rated: R. Blu-ray Release: December 5, 2017.
Joe Corey is the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.