Friday, December 16, 2011

Cinematic Advent Calendar - Day 16

Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) - Charles E. Sellier Jr.

Opening the same day as A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) was well on it's way to becoming a box-office holiday horror hit. Unfortunately, outgrossing it's competition had no effect on the protesting parents petitioning for it to be pulled from theaters. The film, which focuses on a psychotic killer dressed up as Santa Claus, wielding an axe to punish the naughty, caused a huge controversy among parents and critics alike. A different kind of Christmas movie for sure, Silent Night, Deadly Night plays with the idea of Santa Claus and the concept of "naughty and nice." At it's core the film is actually a psychological (emphasis on psycho) thriller. From the beginning the main character suffers one trauma after another after witnessing his parents murder by a criminal dressed up as Santa on Christmas Eve. Upon turning eighteen the young man, Billy, is released from the orphanage, where he endured further torment at the hands of the Mother Superior, and gets a job at a toy store. However, when he is asked to play Santa Claus at the toy shop, Billy finally snaps. Although the film was pulled from theaters, it found a loyal audience with fans of the genre and spawned four sequels, the second of which has the infamous "Garbage Day!" scene. The idea of a psychotic killer posing as Santa Claus is one that had been around long before Silent Night, Deadly Night was even conceived. The first segment of the original Tales From The Crypt (1972) film, which was remade as one of the first episodes of the famous HBO television series, featured a similar plot. Strangely enough, other holiday horror films, such as Black Christmas (1974) and Christmas Evil (aka: You Better Watch Out) (1980), which deal with similar subject matter and festive setting, were allowed to play to audiences unscathed by controversy.

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