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December 13, 2012

Movie Review: Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 1 & 2 (Christmas Survival Double Feature)

Reviewed by: Rob Sibley

With the remake “Silent Night” being released onto DVD/Blu, the fine folks over at Anchor Bay entertainment have decided to re-release the double feature of the original two films. Tis the season for some bloody Christmas fun. Axe wielding Santa's, deranged nuns, candy canes and sugar plum fairies.

First things first, it should be noted that when “Silent Night” was first released it was greeted not with open arms but with public outcry. Siskel & Ebert gave the film a scathing review and boycotted the film. They weren't alone, community leaders and P.T.A.'s were also not to keen on TV spots showing the lovable big man in a red suit carrying an axe!

All that aside, how is the actual film and does it hold up today? Well it's certainly not what I'd call a classic but it's above average more so then your typical slasher fare from the 80's. The story concerns a fella by the name of Billy Chapman, who as a child witnessed his parents being slaughtered by a man dressed as... you guessed it Santa.

Well Billy grows up and as is the trend in any horror film, he's not quite right in the head. He loses his cool very quickly when he gets a job as the local Santa. He decides to pick up an axe and go postal.

The film is an odd beast, it's not your typical stalk and slash fair because it focuses heavily on the psychological aspect of Billy's out of whack mind. It seems like director Charles E. Sellier Jr. isn't to keen on the slasher genre so he tried to make something different. This turns the film into a bi-polar mish-mash of psychological character study and good old 80's slash & stalk.

Boy oh boy, does the film deliver on the violence. It's certainly one of the more mean spirited slasher pics of the 80's. The most famous (or infamous) scenes involves a very much topless queen of the B's Linnea Quigley and a pair of deer antlers.  Heads are chopped off, people are impaled and all kinds of Christmas hurt is delivered.

Overall though this is a gem of a film and one of the better slasher films to come out of the 1980's.


Now... “Silent Night, Deadly Night 2”. The story behind the film is maybe more interesting then the film itself. The producers of the original Silent Night wanted to make a quick buck, Roger Corman style . So they enlisted Director Lee Harry to take the original film and re-edit it with a bit of new footage thrown in. This didn't gel with the directors plan. So instead of just a few new scenes they shot about forty minutes of new footage and used another forty minutes from the original film and created a very odd 80 minute hybrid.

So you can pretty much fast forward through the first forty minutes since it's all mainly footage from part 1 with new bits inter-cut. After that, all the new footage they filmed kicks in. When it does... boy is it a riot. The “story” concerns Billy's younger brother Ricky played with hilarious macho glee by Eric Freeman. He picks up where his older brother left off and goes out on a rampage killing cops, perverts and even a poor fella taking out his trash. The film is a laugh riot, but for all the wrong reasons. It falls into the category of, it's so bad it's actually good.  6/10

Each film gets it own DVD (no flipper disks!). The picture quality on the first Silent Night varies from scene to scene since they used the unrated print of the film. So certain dialog scenes and kill scenes have a bit more wear and tear to them. Silent Night 2 looks pristine, both films are presented in their proper 1.85:1 aspect ratios and feature mono audio which gets the job done.

Extras on the first Silent Night are slim but good. A very insightful audio interview with the director is given and it's a great listen. We also get a poster & still gallery and some other goodies. Silent Night 2 though gets a commentary track and it's one of the best I've ever heard. Writer/director Lee Harry, writer Joseph H. Earle are joined by James Newman (who played the shrink). Listening to this commentary brings back memories of old Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes with Newman taking playful jabs at the film left and right. Lee & Joseph on the other hand are a bit more serious and you can tell they put a lot of passion into the film and it shows both on screen and in their voices.

Overall this double feature will run you about $10.00 at pretty much any story or online vendor. It's a steal, an absolute blind buy. Two fun films with great extras, the perfect stocking stuffer.

DVD: 10/10

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