Christmas Eve Is The Scariest Damn Night Of The Year! Silent Night, Deadly Night (Scream Factory) Blu-ray Review + Screenshots
One of the most notorious slasher films comes to blu-ray for the second time, this time from Scream Factory, so you know that it will be a force to reckon with.
Disc 1: Theatrical Version (1h 22m, HD)
Theatrical Trailer (1m 34s, HD)
This is the film’s red band trailer.
TV Spots (1m 28s, HD, 1.33:1)
We get 3 spots here including a Japanese spot that contains gore and nudity.
VHS Trailer (30s, SD, 1.33:1)
Radio Spot (36s, HD)
Disc 2: Unrated Version (1h 25m, HD with SD inserts)
Slay Bells Ring: The Story of Silent Night, Deadly Night (45m 51s, HD)
Directed by Justin Beahm and featuring Writer Michael Hickey, actor Robert Brian Wilson, Scott Schneid, Dennis Whitehead, Michael Spence, and Perry Botkin Jr, this featurette tells the story of how Schneid and Whitehead came up with the story (kind of stealing it from another writer) to how they sold the film (by getting screwed out of almost any money that would have been due to them), this is a really good look back at the film that would go onto become a cult classic after meeting with some controversy. This controversy is one of the most famous in all of horror film history and would end up benefiting the film when it was released on VHS sometime in 1985 or 86.
Oh Deer! An Interview with Linnea Quigley (21m 50s, Upscaled to 1080)
Quigley runs down her career up to the point of Silent Night, Deadly Night at which point she has nothing but good things to say about her time on the film. The interview is really good, but I can’t even tell you when this interview happened because of the shitty equipment on which this interview was shot with. It looks like it could have been shot with a crappy cell phone or maybe a later version of a camcorder. While it doesn’t really take away from the interview, it would have been nice to have a better presentation.
Christmas in July: Silent Night, Deadly Night Locations Then and Now (10m, HD)
I was hoping that this was going to be a Horror’s Hallowed Grounds episode (a series that I have warmed up to), but it is not. That doesn’t mean that this is a wasted effort. We get to see plenty of the locations used in the film. The toy story where the massacre begins is now a gym and the orphanage is now gone, but the church is still across the street. I had fun with this and hope that we see more of these, or the return of Horror’s Hallowed Grounds, soon.
Audio Interview with Director Charles E. Sellier Jr. (58m 11s, HD)
Provided by Deadpit Radio, this interview is fairly interesting, even though I know next to nothing about Mr. Sellier. He goes through his entire career, which includes The Boogens, with most of the latter half of the interview focusing on Silent Night, Deadly Night. He does share some good stories about the making of SNDN and even some stories about his early career.
Santa’s Stocking of Outrage (4m 31s, HD)
This is a collection of some of the things said about Silent Night, Deadly Night from 1984. This includes “concerned parents”, protesters, film reviews, and even Mickey Rooney, who would go on to star in Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker. I was hoping that Scream Factory would include the infamous At the Movies episode where Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert called out the filmmakers and the producers of SNDN and shaming them for making the film.
Poster and Stills Gallery (58s, HD)
Commentary with actor Robert Brian Wilson and Executive Producer Scott J. Schneid
Commentary with Michael Hickey, Perry Botkin Jr, Scott J. Scheid, and Michael Spence
The custom artwork that adorns the slipcover has been provided by artist Joel Robinson.
Both discs are REGION A (locked)
The theatrical version of the film looks great from beginning to end. The new 4K scan of the film brings out a great amount of detail and lets the colors shine brightly. The red of the Santa suit is amazing and the colors look very accurate. There is no black crush or digital manipulation of any kind. In fact, the transfer is littered with white specks and tiny scratches, but everything else looks good that you won’t mind this at all. All in all, this is one of the best transfers of the year.
Then we get to the unrated version. The film for the unrated scenes/shots has been lost, so to make this version of the film happen, Scream Factory had to use the best available version of these scenes, which was a tape master, and splice them into the beautiful 4K transfer. Scream Factory has done this before with other blu-rays like Dawn of the Dead (2004), Land of the Dead, and The Exorcist III. With those blu-rays, most couldn’t even tell the difference, but here anyone with decent eyesight can tell the difference. The drop in picture quality is jarring, but that is the only way to get the unrated version of the film. This is really unfortunate because the 4K transfer is so strong. I can not blame Scream Factory because, if the original film elements are lost, there is not much they can do about that. They provide a warning in front of the unrated version explaining why the picture quality will dip from time to time. I applaud Scream Factory for doing this because Anchor Bay when they released the film on blu-ray in 2014, made no mention of the dip in quality.
There is good news though. Scream Factory worked with the footage they had and made it better than it has ever been before. It stills looks bad, but it isn’t nearly as bad as the Anchor Bay release. While we all wish that Scream Factory could have found the film elements to make the unrated version whole, they did do a great job of trying to make the bad footage look good.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track provided here is nice. Dialogue is crisp and clean and the effects in the film sound better than ever. The film’s score, which is blunt and sometimes unnerving, is heard loud and clear and adds to the film’s overall sleaze factor, but there are some nice tracks that warm your heart before tearing it out again when the killing starts.
A young boy watches his parents killed by a thief in a Santa suit. He spends his youth in an orphanage, staying quietly to himself, but his mind is further bent by an iron-handed Mother Superior. He finally gets a job at a local store, where he finally snaps when he is required to wear a Santa suit, and goes on a killing spree that leads him slowly back to the orphanage.
Watching Silent Night, Deadly Night for this review, I can see why parents were outraged by the advertising for the film. I don’t agree with them, but I can see where they are coming from. Christmas has always been a festive time for most people. Houses adorned with Christmas lights and decorations on the front lawn. Presents being bought in droves, wrapped, and put under the Christmas tree. It is a time to give to others rather than to receive. It is the brightest of all the holidays and the one that many look forward to each year.
Up until 1984, there hadn’t been a mainstream killer Santa film. Sure, there was Christmas Evil, but that film was not a major release, but an independent film that saw a bit of business and then disappeared until VHS dug it up and made it relevant again. The sight of seeing the beloved Santa, the bringer of gifts and jolliest person of the planet, killing people with a gun and an ax was probably disturbing to a lot of kids. I wasn’t one of them, but I know people who swore off Santa for a bit because they thought that he was evil.
Parents want to protect their children, but there are some parents who go a step further and want to protect all children. In theory, this is a noble thing to do, but not all children are the same. The way that Mother Superior acts in this film is very close to the way that parents were acting towards this film. Mother Superior wanted the best for the children that she oversaw, but she also felt that she had to put her beliefs onto the children as well. This is what these protesting parents wanted: Their way or the highway.
Looking back on the controversy, I laugh. I think that every parent has the right to show their kids what they want and adults can watch anything they want. Protesting a film isn’t going to make people not watch it...it makes them want to see it MORE. How many times did your parents tell you that you couldn’t watch a film or TV show? Did it make you want to see it more? Hell yes, it did. Were the films and TV shows that you were not allowed to watch always good or provocative? No, but they contained something that your parents didn’t think that you were old enough to see. I had a friend whose mother wouldn’t let him watch the first Ace Ventura film. Why you may ask? Because the film promoted violence against women. I am not making this up. She saw a bit of the scene where Ace Ventura fights Sean Young at the end of the film and banned it from their house. She banned a bunch of other films too, but I can’t remember what they were. Now, Ace Ventura was rated PG-13 and we were all fourteen when the film came out, so he had every right to see the film, but she held her foot down. Even when it was brought up to her that Sean Young actually played a man, she got even madder. She banned a bunch more films based on what she knew about them. So, while me and my other friends got to see any film that we wanted, he had to do with the films that his mother allowed him to watch.
I have seen this first hand and I think that the whole story should be gotten before dealing out a verdict. These parents didn’t even see the film. They all thought that the film was about a killer Santa. Even when they were given the facts, they still protested the film for the same reasons as before. They “won” because the film was pulled from theaters, but lost because the film was a huge hit on VHS and cable, where ANYONE could watch it.
So, is the film any good? I think it is. The performances are all good, especially that of Lilyan Chauvin, who plays Mother Superior. She comes across as a tyrant who really wants to see these kids succeed. Chauvin brings so much more to the character than the filmmakers even thought of, and while she is the “villain” of the film, she is more of a human that has a different way of seeing things than others do. It is clear that Billy suffers from some kind of mental illness and the 80’s were not kind to those who had mental illnesses, so what Mother Superior is doing to Billy seems like the right thing to do in her mind. If this film were to take place now, the Mother Superior character would be a lot different.
The gore in the film is good but could have been better. There are a couple of gags that stand out like girl impaled on the deer antlers and the sledder who loses his head (I am here all night.), but the rest of the gore gags feel cheap, probably because they were. As slasher films were getting more inventive with their gore, Silent Night, Deadly Night seems to be stuck in the time right before the slasher boom of the 80’s. There is a lot of nudity that will help you to get through some of the crappier gore effects.
In the end, Silent Night, Deadly Night is a good slasher that got a bum rap for a bit before gaining its infamous status. The film is well directed and acted and shouldn’t have received the bashing that it got from not only parents but critics as well. Sure, the film isn’t a classic like Friday the 13th or Halloween are, but it deserves to be in the same room as them. It is a down and dirty slasher that could have used better effects but gets a lot right. Plus the film is a fun watch.
SummarySilent Night, Deadly Night is a fun, sleazy horror film that doesn't take itself too seriously and is a blast to watch. The performances are all good and the direction is good for the most part. I would say that SNDN is one of the better slasher films to comes oout of the during the slasher boom and is worth checking out.
The blu-ray, from Scream Factory, is wonderful. The picture is stunning except for the shots/scenes that have no film elements anymore. There Scream Factory did what they could to match the footage with the 4K footage and they should be commended for their work. The sound is great and the special features are worth watching. If you are a fan of slasher films or a fan of this film, you owe it to yourself to buy this. You will not be disappointed.