12 Days of Christmas: Silent Night, Deadly Night

It might not officially be The 12 Days of Christmas, but FILM IN WORDS will still fill your festive viewing schedule with cheer. From beloved movies that have become an irreplaceable holiday tradition to cult and lesser known Xmas cuts that promise to subvert and haunt your holidays, there’s something for everyone all the way up to Christmas Eve.

Silen Night Deadly Night Large

Words: Brody Rossiter
Twitter: @BrodyRossiter


The overwhelming sense of purity and wholesomeness that radiates from Christmas offers the perfect opportunity for filmmakers to revise and ultimately corrupt our yearly traditions and perceptions of the period. The rich mythology that we have attached to the most wonderful time of the year also provides a wealth source material to contaminate with starkly contrasting genre conventions. 1984’s Silent Night, Deadly Night is a prime example of our fondness for debasing the most wonderful time of the year with sex, violence, and in this case, horror.

The idea of Santa Claus is just creepy. If it not for the gifts that accompany him down the chimney, the prospect of a large, bearded man creeping into your house in the middle of the night with a sack, a man who is most likely inebriated on cheap sherry, would be unacceptable. However, we’re greedy and presents are worth suppressing those concerns regarding over-friendly strangers in disguise.

Unfortunately for Billy, while journeying home from the asylum in which his deranged grandpa is housed (what a wonderful way to spend Christmas Eve), his family are brutally murdered by a violent criminal in a Santa costume. The following years find Billy suffering through his life as an orphan, his traumatised psyche left to fester while physical “punishment” is dished out by his orphanage’s cruel mother superior. After turning 18, Billy seems to have finally overcome the horrors of his youth, however, when his job at the local toy store leads to him having to dress as his jolly, red and white nemesis, Billy’s fragile state of mind finally shatters and things take a turn for the insanely murderous.

Silent Night, Deadly Night is a terrible film. From its uninspired TV movie aesthetic, to the woeful characterisation, to the ham-fisted manner in which it dishes out its murderous shocks, it’s all executed with the grace and subtly of Rudolph and his glowing nose colliding with a jumbo jet – but ultimately, that’s why it’s so unashamedly entertaining. Trashy shocks and cheap thrills are continuously gifted to the viewer. Salacious soft-porn sex scenes (I counted at least ten nipples, both male and female) and slasher set-pieces dominate the picture, and for a film that’s only 80 minutes long, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Unintentionally hilarious, often cringeworthy and shameless in its quest for shocking content, Silent Night, Deadly Night is either a gigantic lump of cinematic coal or a glistening exploitation gem that Santa will happily delivery, whether you want him to or not.

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