True horror comes in situations where you least expect it, which is why holiday horror films always seem to strike a nerve. This is especially true when it comes to horror movies that take place during the Christmas season. You can’t help but fear the possibility that, behind the merriment and goodwill toward one another, terror can find a way through. This is especially true with the rampaging Santa Claus in Silent Night, Deadly Night.
Movie: Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
Plot: After seeing his parents brutally murdered by a man dressed up as Santa Claus and being constantly reprimanded by Mother Superior at the orphanage he ended up in, Billy seems to have finally come to turns with his horrible childhood until the boss at his job decides he should dress up as Santa Clause at his toy store. This leads to a killing spree by Billy on Christmas Eve, intent on punishing naughty people.
Killer: Billy dressed up as Santa Claus.
Critique: Obviously, one of the great things about Silent Night, Deadly Night is how the film twists one of the merriest times of the year into the most horrifying. When you think of Santa Claus, you think of joy, gift-giving, and good will. You don’t think of armed robbery, corporal punishment, and murder. It is this theme of opposites that makes Silent Night, Deadly Night so gruesome. Instead of illuminating Christmas decorations and snow sledding fun be get strangulation with Christmas lights and decapitations while riding sleds.
And then there is Billy, the killer Santa himself. We can’t help but have a certain empathy for him. This is a kid whose mentally deranged grandfather told him Santa punishes naughty children, saw his parents brutally murdered on Christmas Eve by a guy in a Santa outfit, and was constantly punished at an orphanage instead of getting so real, psychological help coping with his past. I’m not saying I agree with his psychotic break when putting on a Santa Claus costume himself, but I understand the potential. Maybe that’s even scarier: being able to empathize with a serial killer.
Scene of Awesomeness: Every scene that pits the opposing forces of cheerful Christmas music and brutal murders is awesome. It’s what makes this movie a fantastic slasher film, and definitely not a film to ever be seen by children. We don’t need any other Billys running around…
Scene of Ridiculousness: When Billy comes across a young girl in the house where’s he’s murdered her her babysitter and the babysitter’s boyfriend, he gives her a bloody utility knife as a present. It’s great and ridiculous at the same time, since it shows that Billy does have a moral compass, as warped as it may be.
Body Count: 13 ( plus 1 in a dream, 1 murdered snowman)
1 throat slit
1 side sliced open (in a dream sequence)
1 strangulation with Christmas lights
1 stomach sliced open with a utility knife
1 claw hammer to the head
1 arrow through the back
1 impalement on deer antlers
1 toss through a closed window
1 beheading while on a sled (Awesomely Overkill Award)
1 axe to the chest
1 snowman beheading
4 pairs of breasts
Actors/Actresses of Note: Scream Queen Linnea Quigley gets about 3 minutes of screen-time before being impaled on deer antlers.
Quote: “Naughty!” – Billy