Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

silent night deadly night poster 1984 movie
2.0 Overall Score
Story: 2/10
Acting: 3/10
Visuals: 5/10

So-bad-it-is-good film, good slasher film

Bad promotional campaign

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Silent Night, Deadly Night

Studio:  TriStar Pictures/Slayride

Genre(s):  Horror/B-Movie/Seasonal

Release Date(s):  November 9, 1984

MPAA Rating:  R

silent night deadly night creepy grandpa will hare jonathan best

…the undisputed “Creepy Grandpa of ’84” champ

A boy (Jonathan Best) fearful of Santa Claus witnesses the murder of his father and the rape and murder of his mother on Christmas Eve by a man dressed in a Santa suit.  Shipped off to an orphanage with his baby brother, Billy Chapman (Danny Wagner) also learns to associate sex with being naughty when he sees a couple caught having sex.  Billy (Robert Brian Wilson) begins works for a department store during the holiday season, but when he’s forced to stand in for Santa Claus.  The pressure of being Santa and what “Santa” sees pushes Billy over the edge…and sets him on a killing spree that won’t end until Christmas is over and all the naughty little boys and girls are punished.

Directed by Charles Sellier, Silent Night, Deadly Night is a horror slasher thriller.  The film was met with bad reviews and huge controversy.  Publicly bashed by parent groups and critics, the movie was quickly pulled from theaters, but has become a cult classic spawning sequels.

silent night deadly night billy chapman santa claus axe killer robert brian wilson

Here’s SANTA!!!!

The controversy surrounding Silent Night, Deadly Night really involves the marketing more than the movie.  I remember the release (no, I didn’t “believe” at the time), but it featured images of Danny Wagner in his Santa suit wielding an axe…and I’m sure they ran during normal times.  For some reason, parents objected to their kids seeing their holiday idol chopping up people.  The idea of a killer Santa isn’t new and the original Tales from the Crypt film had a deranged (and much more frightening Santa) killing a murderous woman…and that segment was remade for the HBO series.

Rather than inspiring fear, the movie is rather laughable.  People sure are cavalier about Billy getting over his family being slaughtered by Santa Claus (he needs to just forget about that).  The evil nuns who it seems wouldn’t care about Santa Claus as much as they would about Billy’s acceptance of the story of Mary and Jesus force him to see Santa then act like he’s the crazy one when he gets upset.  Next, let’s get him a job at a toy shop…don’t see how that could be any problem.

The acting is quite bad.  The evil grandpa (Will Hare) at the beginning kicks off a string of over the top actors that vary from between scary to cartoonish.  The movie is all over the place and the acting follows it.  It is bad, but it is quite campy.  Scream queen Linnea Quigley gets the axe (or at least the antlers) in one scene.

silent night deadly night billy chapman killer santa claus robert brian wilson

Sorry, kid…sometimes Santa has get a bit “knife-y”

The movie does have a lot of bloodshed.  Even when compared to classic killers like Jason, Freddy, or Michael Myers, Billy racks up a pretty good body count in the movie (plus additional kills by police officers and the killer Santa at the beginning).  There are some “fun” kills like the deer horns and sledding beheading (once again by bullies interested in stealing sleds?)…and a lot of ’80s nudity.

Horror fans will enjoy the classic ’80s feel of the slasher flick, and it does provide some jumps with the gore.  Silent Night, Deadly Night isn’t a good movie, but it is fun to watch.  Silent Night, Deadly Night was followed by Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 in 1987 with Billy’s brother Ricky stepping in as the killer…heads up though, Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 is mostly rehash of this film (literally replaying most of it) so if you are in a crunch you can just skip to the Part 2 and the glory of Garbage Day.

Related Links:

Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (1987)

Silent Night (2012)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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