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John’s Horror Corner: Silent Night Deadly Night (1984), a Christmas story

November 25, 2013

MY CALL:  A disturbed young man plays Santa to purge his deep-seeded issues in this “then controversial” cult classic.  MOVIES LIKE Silent Night:  HBO’s Tales from the Crypt season 1 episode 2 “And All Through the House” (1989; GREAT), Black Christmas (2006; meh), Black Christmas (1974; evidently scary upon release).

Yeah.  Good call leaving the kid alone with the dementia-stricken grandfather.

This cult classic wakes up Christmas with a swift kick off the wrong side of the bed.  An 8-year old boy (Billy) hears a holiday horror story from his deeply disturbed grandfather and a man in a Santa suit sexually assaults and murders Billy’s parents right in front of him.  By 11 Billy is displaying some homicidal Noelophobia warning signs while being abused (by today’s standards) by his nun caretakers.  He’s punished for being repulsed by Christmas/Santa and he’s punished for accidently coming across two teens having sex.  Well, hooray for those nuns!  Mentally abusing a child over his fears and things he doesn’t understand…nope.  That won’t generate any deep-seeded issues, now will it?

Ummm…I don’t really see the problem here.  Coloring within the lines, good overall artwork for an 8-year old, conveys emotion through art…this kid’s good!

Now an adult, Billy is working at a toy store and being a model employee until he’s recruited to be the store Santa Claus.  He adopts the twisted naughty-punishing Santa persona instilled by his disturbed grandfather and quietly threatens children on his lap until they behave.  Then the store manager plays Billy’s homicidal enabler by getting him drunk–and it seems Billy may have never drank alcohol before.  Now let’s really set Billy off, right?  Billy’s supervisor sexually assaults a co-worker Pamela who he has a crush on.

This movie is totally bonkers.  After saving Pamela from an attempted rape she calls him a crazy bastard.  Now, sure.  He did strangle the assailant (their co-worker) to death with Christmas lights.  And I can see how that’s generally a “not okay” thing to do. But I felt that at least some gratitude was merited here.  Not digging her lack of appreciation either, he kills her.  And while he’s at it, he kills the store owner and the cashier.

So string of Christmas lights stayed in proper theme. But a hammer? Come on! How about we fill Santa’s sack full of bricks and beat someone to death with it? Maybe shove a contorted body down a chimney or gift wrap a severed head. Somewhere after the first kill Billy lost his Christmas spirit.

You’d really think Billy had done this before.  He uses a string of lights, a knife, a hammer, an axe and a bow and arrow to exact his anti-Yule tide mania on his hapless co-workers.  By the way, all of these things were readily handy…in a toy store.  What kind of toy store is this?

Evidently the nun-run orphanage had archery lessons during recess.

But there’s still a lot of work to do this Christmas eve.  So our crazy Santa breaks into a nearby home and terrorizes a topless Linnea Quigley (The Return of the Living Dead, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4, Creepozoids), bringing about the first creative kill of the movie.  I suppose, being topless, that Billy just assumed she was being naughty.  😉

I suppose whenever Linnea is in a movie she’s being naughty. Evidently the punishment for topless naughtiness is impalement by deer antlers.

At one point Billy asks a little girl if she’s been naughty…you know–after he kills her topless big sister.  When the girl says no, you can tell he REALLY wants to kill her.  So he asks her twice are you sure and you haven’t done ANYTHING naughty?  When she assures him that she’s been good, he gives her a bloody box cutter (that he would have used to kill her) as a present.  Hahahaha.  This movie is hilariously sick.

This movie may be 5 shades of awful, but it’s at least 10 shades of cult classic awesome.  My only complaint is that when Billy finally faces his childhood tormentor Mother Superior (Lilyan Chauvin; Predator 2, Pumpkinhead 2)–who definitely helped develop his issues–he doesn’t get to kill her.  Sad.  Billy basically dies a virgin who had a few drinks for the first time in his life and then (like anyone naturally would) went on a killing rampage culminating in his own demise.

Is it just me, or does this sound a little like one of those overblown horror stories your middle school health teacher used to tell in order to try to scare you out of partying?  This actually poses an excellent argument for why kids should learn to drink sooner.  If Billy could’ve kept his drunk composure a little better, then maybe fewer people would have died.  This cautionary tale makes me glad I got started in middle school.  Might I had, to date I have engaged in zero alcohol-related Santa-themed murders.

Support Billy and watch this classic!

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