“I don’t bring toys to naughty children. I punish them. Severely.” Billy, Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
Anyone who has ever told you Santa is a good guy was lying. Think about it. He sees you when you’re sleeping…he KNOWS when you’re awake…That is pretty fucked up right there. Santa knows if you’ve been bad or good. People have gotten restraining orders over less. It’s not Krampus you need to be worried about kids, it’s Santa. It’s only natural that a franchise would take advantage of the fact that Santa is sort of a big creep.
The Silent Night, Deadly Night films relishes the idea of punishing the naughty. Like any franchise, the movies vary in quality, ranging from good, to bland, to truly outrageous. I sat down and watched them all, so you don’t have to. You’re welcome. Here is a handy dandy guide to finding the Silent Night, Deadly Night film that is just right for you!
Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) shocked people when it was first released. Not because it was exceptionally gruesome or even good, but because it featured trailers of a killer Santa, and that made parents MAD. The original run didn’t last long in theaters, but has since gone on to become a staple of holiday horror.
Young Billy (Jonathan Best) and his baby brother are left orphans after a criminal dressed as Santa kills their parents in front of them. The boys are sent to an orphanage and Billy finds himself further traumatized by an overly strict Mother Superior (Lilyan Chauvin) who routinely uses abusive punishment on Billy. Years later, a now adult Billy (Robert Brian Wilson) has left the orphanage and works as a stock boy at a local store. A violent encounter between some of his co-workers sends Billy into a psychotic break and he goes on a homicidal rampage dressed as Santa Claus.
As slashers go, there is no denying that Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) is a fun addition to the subgenre. Where Black Christmas (1974) remains strong in my heart for favorite holiday slashers, Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) has its own ridiculous and over the top charm to make it worth adding to your holiday viewing repertoire.
As is common with many slashers of the early 80s, some of the ridiculous ways in which the people act is both amusing an infuriating. Women are never more hypersexual than in 80s horror films. Also, it’s winter! For the love of frostbite, put the short shorts away and put on some damn pants! Or at least a shirt. I’ve given up on ever seeing a woman in a slasher actually wear a bra.
3.75 sadistic nuns out of 5
Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 (1987)
Worried you may have forgotten something from the first film? Don’t be. Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 (1987) is like watching a clip show from a sitcom but without the laugh track. Come to think of it, a laugh track would have really helped this movie. Seriously, the first 45 minutes is flashbacks of the original film. We’re also treated to some never before seen scenes to show us how Ricky was doing during brother Billy’s Santa’s slay fest. Turns out, brother Billy wasn’t the only naughty member of the family. Ricky decides to go on a little rampage of his own. Eric Freemna’s portrayal of Ricky reaches Nicholas Cage in The Wicker Man (2006) levels of ridiculousness. Which means it may be secretly brilliant? Basically, if you’ve seen the first movie, you’ve seen the second. And I mean that literally.
That being said, this is perhaps one of my favorites of the franchise because of sheer ridiculous. Garbage Day has taken on a whole new level of delight in my household. And did I mention that a good portion of the dialogue could have easily been taken from a bad porn. Imagine the following line with some cheesy 80s porn music in the background as it’s delivered with a knowing smirk.
“Was Billy being…naughty?”
Let’s just leave it there, shall we?
As a horror film: 2.5 Santa’s with severe sexual hang-ups out of 5
As a secret comedy: 4.5 pieces of garbage for garbage day out of 5
Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out (1989)
To the shock of absolutely no one, Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch out went direct to video.
Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out (1989) introduces us to Laura (Samantha Scully) a blind, clairvoyant teenager (a plot device used a surprising amount in 80s slasher) who forms a connection with Ricky (recast as Bill Moseley) who has been comatose since being shot at the end of the last film six years prior. After being roused from a coma by a drunk hospital employee dressed as Santa (because that’s DEFINITELY how coma’s work), Ricky begins a new rampage, but still linked to Laura.
The fun of the first two films is non-existent in this movie. A Nun muttering “Naughty, naughty” every other line is not going to win any screenwriting awards, but it does make for some entertainment. The silliness of a girl in short shorts being impaled on a pair of antlers has been replaced by a stone-faced Bill Moseley stabbing people with a letter opener. Bill Moseley’s Ricky will not be shouting “garbage day” while gleefully shooting someone. That’s not to say the performances are bad. When your cast includes Moseley and Richard Beymer, you know the acting is going to be solid, but lacks the ridiculousness that made the first two watchable.
Without the over-the-top moments from the first few films, there’s nothing that really allows part 3 to stand out. It’s not a bad movie, but it’s not particularly memorable.
2.5 psychic teens out of 5
Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation (1990)
Much Like Halloween III (1982), Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation (1990) had absolutely nothing to do with the original story of the series, it merely shares the title. Unlike Halloween III (1982) people didn’t really care. In the fourth film of the franchise, a reporter (Neith Hunter) starts investigating the mysterious deaths of a number of women only to finds herself involved with a feminist cult who worship Lilith. I mean, who hasn’t spent a Christmas or two with a homicidal feminist cult? That was actually my plan for the Holiday this year, but then my Grandma decided to come to town. Maybe next year. The film has very little to do with Christmas and completely abandons the killer Santa angle used in the first three films. You could pretty much insert your holiday of choice, change the title and the story would not have changed. My vote would be for a killer Easter Bunny, but no one asked me.
The fact that this movie is grouped in with the rest of the franchise is maybe the most frustrating part about it. As a stand-alone horror film, it’s not terrible. There are some truly gross and disturbing special effects (including a reverse birth of a roach creature that goes in through the vagina and comes out the mouth that still makes me uncomfortable) that are impressive. Unfortunately, being grouped with the franchise is really doing it a disservice. My advice? Watch it by itself and try not to associate it with the other films.
As a Silent Night movie: 1.5 homicidal witches out of 5
As a stand-alone horror film: 3.5 roach creatures out of 5
Silent Night Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker (1991)
The fifth film of the franchise, Silent Night Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker (1991)
AKA Silent Night: The Slow Death of Mickey Rooney’s Career puts Christmas back in the forefront of the film. A young boy named Derek (William Thorne) watches his father be killed by a toy that was delivered to his doorstep. A few weeks later, mute since his father’s death, Derek and his mother Sarah (Jane Higginson) go into a toy store owned by Joe (Mickey Rooney) and his son Pino (Brian Bremer). Soon killer toys seem to be after Derek, and are quickly killing people left in right.
It’s hard to know what entirely to take from Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker (1991), other than an inhaler since the titles seem to be getting progressively longer with each film. The plot is utterly bizarre, with twists and turns of both the expected and the unexpected.
Kim, the reporter in part 4 played by Neith Hunter, shows up, but it’s not even clear if she’s supposed to be the same character or not.
The acting is about what you would expect from a movie that has the number “5” in the title. It’s not quite bad enough to reach the fun potential of part 2, but none of the performances stand out as being particularly memorable. Unless you have a perverse desire to watch the depths of with Mickey Rooney has fallen, this one is a pass.
2 Mickey Rooney’s in desperate need of a paycheck out of 5
Silent Night (2012)
The sixth film, simply entitled Silent Night (2012) is less a sequel and more a loose retelling of the original. The killer Santa is this also seems to have picked up a trick or two from his friend Jigsaw and is getting rather creative with his killings.
Deputy Aubrey (Jaimie King) is brought in by the Sheriff (Malcolm McDowell) to look into the disappearance of another deputy. It doesn’t take too long before the local police force realize they have a killer Santa on their hands, who seems to be targeting people who have been behaving “naughty”. Man taking dirty pictures? Too naughty to live. That tween that just said, “Fuck church.” Yeah, she’s totally gonna die. Murder is bad, sure, but it can also be perversely satisfying. I can’t be alone in cheering on the Killer Santa in this movie if he promises to take out more rude teens and gross perverts.
Silent Night (2012) is also further proof that Malcolm McDowell will do pretty much any movie he is paid to. That’s not said with any judgement. I truly believe Malcolm McDowell should be in any movie that can pay his fee. In fact, I believe we should start a Kickstarter for that very purpose.
Though the plot connection to the original is loose, there are homages and Easter Eggs for people familiar. A number of the killings pay tribute to the original, and there’s a throwaway line referencing “garbage day” that should please fans of the second film.
As far as remakes or reimagining’s go, Silent Night (2012) is a sold addition. It’s ridiculous enough for some laughs with some decent and creative kills. If you are a fan of the franchise, you won’t be disappointed.
3.5 Malcolm McDowell scowl-y faces out of 5
Silent Night, Deadly Night is one of the few Christmas horror franchises, so for that alone, you must give it some credit. Not in the mood to marathon six movies? My recommendation would be to watch the first two and then skip ahead to Silent Night (2012). And remember, Santa Claus IS coming to town…