Directed by Charles Sellier, Jr. US. 1984. R. 79 min. Private Collection. 35mm.
Sponsored by EB Art Guide
- Fri, Dec 2, 9:45 pm
“[When it came out in 1984] angry mothers who objected to the film’s decidedly un-Norman Rockwell portrait of the Yuletide season came out of the woodwork to protest its very existence. Here was a film with an eye-catching (and even still admittedly iconic) ad campaign featuring Santa’s ax-clutching arm sticking out of a snow-laced chimney. Even worse, it featured not one, but two deranged men in red fat-suits raping and slashing their way through a winter wonderland before being shot down by cops in front of an orphanage of wide-eyed cherubs. Perhaps most outlandishly, the audience is meant to identify (or at the very least empathize) with Billy, the screwed-up kid who sees his parents raped and killed by the first “naughty” Santa and then grows up (and strappingly fine) to become a deranged serial killer himself come Christmastime. As it was made in the locked-down ’80s, the controversy was not too surprising. (Also indicative of the conservative times it was created in: the violence is kept to a bare minimum.) But lost in the controversy is the film’s unmistakably savage (and sadly archetypal) presentation of women’s death scenes, which are distressingly juxtaposed with the exposure of their breasts in a manner that implicates their sexuality with their “naughtiness,” or original sin as it were. This was obviously not new territory for the slasher genre, mind you, but Silent Night, Deadly Night brought the idea to new levels of cold sleaziness.” (Eric Henderson, SlantMagazine.com)