Blu-ray Review: Silent Night, Deadly Night: Collector's Edition | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Silent Night, Deadly Night: Collector’s Edition

Studio: Scream Factory

Dec 06, 2017 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Christmas Eve, 1971: 5-year-old Billy Chapman watches as his parents are brutally murdered by an armed robber disguised in a Santa Claus costume. Following a rough upbringing in an orphanage run by a callous Mother Superior, Billy grows into an incredibly disturbed young man. He takes on a job as a stock boy in a local toy store, but when the Santa they’d hired for the holidays breaks his ankle just before Christmas, Billy is forced to don the uniform of jolly, old St. Nick. This dredges up feelings he’s struggled to keep buried; if the trauma of his youth taught him one thing about Santa Claus’ purpose, it’s that the naughty must be punished. Grabbing a fire axe, he embarks on a Christmas Eve massacre.

1984’s Silent Night, Deadly Night might have only been remembered as one of many holiday-themed slashers to hit theaters and video aisles during the early ‘80s had the media not so attentively covered the moral outrage it sparked among concerned parents and clergymen. The decision to depict the beloved Kris Kringle as a mass murderer wasn’t unprecedented, and normally there would be little opportunity for an R-rated horror movie to inflict damage on the mind of a young child. Unfortunately, frightening commercials for the film were mistakenly run during family-oriented TV programs such as Little House on the Prairie in some markets, and parents were (quite rightfully) upset that their children accidentally witnessed Santa Claus mid-killing spree just weeks ahead of the holiday season. Angry phone calls were made to TV stations, letters were written to editors, and quickly local outcry became nationwide outrage. By the time Silent Night, Deadly Night hit theaters, it was met by carol-singing protestors gathered outside the cinemas. After two weeks, TriStar was forced to pull the movie from theaters before it had even had its West Coast premiere.

Of course, the furor eventually died down and the film received a second theatrical run the following summer, this time with Santa removed from the marketing materials and replaced by taglines reminding viewers of just how controversial the film had been a few months earlier. (The video release, of course, restored the murderous Santa to the artwork.) It’s a fascinating backstory, but how does Silent Night, Deadly Night hold up today? As a competent slasher, mostly; not as great as Halloween or Friday the 13th, but better than at least 100 others that were released during the same decade. 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.

Scream Factory’s Collector’s Edition is far and away the definitive release of Silent Night, Deadly Night. Both the theatrical and unrated versions are included on separate discs (the latter with about seven more minutes added, mostly extending the kill scenes.) The extra features are the most fun: there’s a new, retrospective documentary with the film’s producers, editors, and star; an interview with ‘80s horror staple Linnea Quigley; modern-day visits to the film’s Utah locations, and a funny gallery of negative reviews and quotes from outraged citizens that were sent to newspapers.


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