By Jeremy G. Butler (Author Page, Twitter Page, Facebook Page)
What I’m Thankful For:
Silent Night, Deadly Night.
Nudity, gore, murder, a crazy grampa and more than one deranged Santa Claus. It’s everything a Holiday Movie should be, dammit.
Well, not really, but it’s a movie that’s near and dear to my heart, mainly because it was one of my go-to horror flicks as a kid. Which explains a lot, probably, but that’s neither here nor there! I was one of those kids who raised myself on horror flicks (even when I wasn’t allowed to) and Silent Night, Deadly Night (one of my first discoveries) delivered for all of the reasons mentioned above. I didn’t know back then that it was sort of a riff of a segment in the first Tales From the Crypt movie, I just knew that “HOLY SHIT SANTA KILLED THOSE PEOPLE” and it was awesome. Santa isn’t supposed to do that! Yet there he is, killing parents in front of their children, impaling half-naked women on deer antlers and giving little girls bloody box-cutters as gifts because they’d been good. I don’t remember exactly how old I was the first time I saw it, but it’s not inconceivable that I would have been in single digits. And it was the greatest thing I had ever seen.
Is it a good movie? Not particularly (but it certainly has its moments), and it spawned two sequels that were even worse (though I dunno if 2 can count as a sequel since at LEAST 50% of it is recycled footage from the first flick shown through flashback), but there’s something special about the first, as silly as it was. Not the least of which is the violence – there’s some pretty sick shit going on here and even though Bob Clark did it better, the juxtaposition of the sheer, unfiltered brutality on display with the brightly-lit, multi-colored Christmas festivity is a bit disturbing (in one scene Santa essentially hangs a man with a string of Christmas lights while Christmas music plays in the background). Not to mention that utter contempt it has for the Sisters. Charles E. Seillier, Jr. didn’t just take one of the most joyful symbols of the holiday and cover him in blood, he also went after religion as well.
I’d be hard-pressed to believe that there was anything substantial on Seillier’s mind above and beyond “HAHAHAHOLYSHIT,” but he leaves a little room for some interpretation, so kudos for that.
Yeah, admittedly the love I have for this is heavily wrapped up in nostalgia and I won’t even begin to try to justify it objectively because of all the warm-fuzzy memories it brings me, but it certainly had something that drew me to it and never let me go. Whatever it was, it was the same thing that completely repelled and disgusted Siskel & Ebert and for that, I’m thankful.