Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Remake Comparison Project - Santa's Watching, Santa's Creeping

Cody and Priscilla learn to fear Christmas from Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) and Silent Night (2012).


The choice of what movies to cover for this month's Remake Comparison article was so obvious, we've had it planned since last December. Santa Claus is coming to town, so you better watch out, and we'll tell you why...

One of the most controversial slasher movies ever made, Silent Night, Deadly Night began as a spec script entitled He Sees You When You're Sleeping that was written by a young man named Paul Caimi. A Harvard student, Caimi contacted an alum named Scott Schneid to tell him about his script, since Schneid was working at the William Morris talent agency. Although not exactly a fan of Caimi's writing, Schneid did see promise in the concept of a killer dressed as Santa Claus, so he bought the script from Caimi and began developing it into a feature with fellow executive producer Dennis Whitehead, producer Ira Barmak, and screenwriter Michael Hickey.

With Caimi's work rewritten by Hickey into a script entitled Slay Ride, the producers took the project to TriStar Pictures, who decided to make the movie because slashers were big in the early '80s. Distributing Friday the 13th had certainly worked out for Paramount.

Although the producers had previously considered recent film school graduates Albert Magnoli (who ended up making the Prince film Purple Rain at the same time as Silent Night, Deadly Night was made) and Ken Kwapis (who has gone on to direct a lot of television, including multiple episodes of The Office, in addition to making feature films like The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) for the directing gig, TriStar wanted someone who had more credentials. Charles E. Sellier Jr. had only directed a documentary before, but he had a decade of experience as a producer, being best known for the family-friendly Grizzly Adams movies and TV show, so the studio hired him to make his feature directorial debut on the movie they had renamed Silent Night, Deadly Night.

The film begins with the Chapman family taking a drive through the picturesque Utah countryside on Christmas Eve, 1971. Dad Jimmy is driving, mom Ellie is in the passenger seat with baby Ricky in her arms, five-year-old Billy is sitting in back, reading an illustrated book of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas and looking forward to the presents Santa Claus will be bringing him that night. They're on their way to "Grandpa's" and Billy's worried that they won't get home in time for him to be asleep before Santa arrives, but his mom assures him that everything will be fine, and Santa will be bringing him a big surprise.

Christmas tunes are playing on the radio, smiles are exchanged, it all seems nice and idyllic... but the reality of their destination is far from pleasant. As it turns out, Grandpa Chapman is a patient at the Utah Mental Facility. He exists in a catatonic state, simply sitting in a chair and staring straight ahead. He doesn't acknowledge the presence of anyone around him. Jimmy and Ellie can't get through to him at all.

But when the doctor takes the others out of the room to look over Grandpa's records, leaving Billy alone with his grandfather, Grandpa stirs. The old man awakens and looks over at Billy, a sly smile spreading across his face.

Seemingly with the sole intention of tormenting his young grandson, Grandpa proceeds to warn Billy that Christmas Eve is not a happy time, it's actually the scariest damn night of the year, because Santa Claus only brings presents to those who have been good all year long - anyone who's been bad, Santa punishes, and the way Grandpa says it makes it sound like the punishments are very severe indeed.

"You see Santa Claus tonight, you better run, boy! You better run for your life!"

Grandpa is off his rocker, but that's good advice in this movie.

Leaving Billy alone with his "catatonic, but not really" Grandpa was a mistake. He's a little boy, and it's a Mental Facility after all. Even if Grandpa hadn't scared Billy like that, there's always a chance something awful could've happened. This scene with the old man left a huge impression on me ever since I first watched Silent Night, Deadly Night. Something about the way Will Hare says those mean things, something in his eyes... it deeply gets to me every time.

On the way home, Billy reveals that Grandpa talked to him, and when she finds that the old man's words have made her son scared of Santa, Ellie says Grandpa is "a crazy old fool." This shocks Billy and makes things even worse, because now he believes Santa is going to punish his mom, too.

These opening scenes are exceptionally unnerving to me, there's a very strange feeling to them. From the creepiness of Grandpa to Billy's reaction to what his mom says, there's something about it that puts me on edge.

The tone is serious, and even though Billy is a cutie, the whole thing just feels extremely dark.

Despite his concerns, Billy manages to fall asleep during the ride. Unfortunately, he wakes to a terrifying sight - Santa Claus standing in the middle of the road beside a broken down car, waving down his parents... and his parents are stopping for him...

This isn't the real Santa. It's a criminal who put on the costume to pull off the robbery of a convenience store. He shot the store clerk to death and cleaned the register out, getting a measly $31. Now he's had car trouble during his getaway.

Once the Chapmans stop for him, the criminal has no interest in putting on an act to trick the family into helping him. He pulls his gun, and when Jimmy puts the car in reverse he opens fire and kills him. As baby Ricky cries and Billy runs for cover in a ditch, the bad Santa pulls Ellie from the car and tears her shirt open. It looks like there may be a sexual assault, until Ellie hits him in the face. This causes him to pull out a switchblade and slash her throat.

This is definitely not the sort of big surprise that Ellie intended for Santa to bring Billy.

And who would've guessed... crazy grandpa was right!

With the parents dead, the killer goes looking for little Billy, but is unable to find him.

The film then jumps ahead to December 1974, by which time Billy and Ricky are residents of Saint Mary's Home for Orphaned Children.

As soon as we catch up with 8-year-old Billy, it's clear that he is still deeply troubled by what he saw happen to his parents three years earlier, and obvious that this orphanage is not a healthy environment for him. When Billy draws a picture of a reindeer that has had its head hacked off with a cleaver and Santa with several knives stuck in his body, the nuns that oversee the children have proof of his mental trauma. But while friendly Sister Margaret wants to get Billy proper help, the stern Mother Superior believes that the way to treat him is with strict discipline.

You'd think that Billy had gone through more than enough during his young life, but no... he's under the care of a ridiculously mean person, who has no idea what she's dealing with and is in no way adequate to be raising children.

Billy is further traumatized over the course of this December. He witnesses two older orphans having sex, which gives him flashbacks to what occurred between his mother and the criminal Santa, and then sees Mother Superior barge into the room and beat the couple with a belt for their sin.

Funny, Mother Superior is as strict as it gets, but something like this happens under her watch? And the young couple was being very loud, too. I wonder if it's normal for kids of such different ages to live in the same orphanage. This place clearly didn't help Billy in any way whatsoever.

Mother Superior then tells him that the two were doing something very very naughty, a punishable offense. "Punishment is absolute. Punishment is necessary. Punishment is good." She beats Billy with a belt himself for having left his room, even though she knows Sister Margaret told him he could.

When a nightmare about the murder of his parents drives him out of his room again, Mother Superior ties him to his bed.

Mother Superior had some deep issues herself and was not fit to be in the position she was. She not only never gave Billy the help he needed - of course he'd want Santa dead, considering what he'd been through! And that drawing was a cry for help - but she gives him rough beatings for things that weren't even his fault to begin with.

By the end of the month, Mother Superior is so certain that the isolation, beatings, and harsh words have fixed all of Billy's problems that she forces him to sit on the lap of a visiting Santa. Billy punches the man in the face so hard that he knocks him off his seat and bloodies his nose.

The woman is a nightmare, plain and simple.

There's a lot more punishment in store for Billy.

Jump ahead to the spring of 1984. Billy has just turned 18 and Sister Margaret is working to help him secure a job as he leaves the orphanage. Every store in town turns Billy down before Mr. Sims at Ira's Toys sees the tall, muscular young man and decides he'd be perfect for a job moving around boxes and crates in the stock room.

The bulk of 1984 passes during a montage set to the song "The Warm Side of the Door".

"The Warm Side of the Door" is a wonderfully cheeseball Christmas song, one of several original holiday songs that were recorded for this movie.

This song is so cool. I love it. At first I thought it was an old Christmas song...was surprised to find out it wasn't.

For the most part, it looks like Billy has become a normal, functioning member of society. He does the heavy lifting required of his job, helps customers, helps keep the place in order, he meets Mr. Sims' approval, and he develops a crush on fellow employee Pamela.

Despite what he witnessed as a child and the years of abuse he had to endure at the orphanage, Billy grew up to be a nice young man. You can see that he just wants to leave all that behind and be a "normal" guy. He doesn't even drink liquor.

The film's low budget really shows through in its depiction of the operation of Ira's Toys. Sure, the shelves in this place are packed with toys that would probably go for a fortune on eBay now, particularly those Return of the Jedi items, but it's a small store, smaller than the film is trying to make it look. This place doesn't need as many employees as it has, at least not so many working at once, and it really doesn't need the stock room supervisor Andy, whose entire job consists of sitting at a desk and watching Billy carry things around.

But as Christmas nears, Billy starts to slowly unravel. The sight of Santa Claus has an intense effect on him. His job performance begins to suffer, he starts having nightmares. Mr. Sims makes the worst decision possible when the man who was supposed to play Santa Claus for a store visit on Christmas Eve is unable to do the job - he chooses Billy as the replacement Santa.

Watching Billy-Santa at work, Mr. Sims and the parents are impressed with how he handles the children, but get close and you'll hear that Billy is scaring them into behaving with threats of punishment.

Calling to check on Billy, Sister Margaret hears that he's playing Santa and knows that this was a very bad idea. She heads out to Ira's Toys... but by the time she arrives, it will be too late.

Sister Margaret could've said something to Mr. Sims about Billy and Christmas, but he wouldn't have hired him. I do think that suggesting some kind of break for Billy during the holidays would've been a good idea, though.

When the store closes at 7pm, the booze-fueled employee party begins.

It isn't long before Andy has lured Pamela back into the stock room with the promise of a secret present. This "present" turns out to be a sexual assault, which Billy, having followed them into the stock room, witnesses. The sight of his crush being treated in such a way floods his mind with memories of his parents' murder.

And 44 minutes into the film, Billy snaps.

Serious childhood trauma + extensive abuse + dressing up as Santa + booze for the first time (and lots of it) = disaster.

The structure of Silent Night, Deadly Night sets it apart from most other slashers of this era. Typically, we would have just gotten the "inciting incident" opening and then jumped ahead to modern day, when the murders would start. This movie shows us everything that drove Billy over the edge. When its slasher starts killing, we understand exactly why.

I like how detailed it is and how much of Billy's life it shows. I do feel bad for him, because had he been exposed to better people, better environment, and proper treatment, things would've turned out completely different.

With a cry of "Naughty!", Billy rushes Andy, wrapping Christmas lights around his neck and lifting him off the ground by them, strangling him. When Pamela reacts to Billy saving her from being raped by calling him "crazy", a "bastard", and starting to beat on him, he kills her, too.

A "thank you" would do, but apparently she was looking forward to being raped. I guess that for some women no really means yes.

There's a middle-aged guy and a blonde woman who also work at Ira's Toys, but they've bailed on the party by this time, leaving only Mr. Sims and employee Mrs. Randall in the store, trying to drink themselves into oblivion. The party ends with Sims and Randall being murdered.

Mrs. Randall put up a fight. I wanted her to get away... she almost did.

Billy has left the store by the time Sister Margaret arrives and discovers the corpses he's left behind. She contacts the police as Billy continues his killing spree, murdering random naughty people he comes across while making his way back to Saint Mary's Home for Orphaned Children.

Scream queen Linnea Quigley (Night of the Demons) and Leo Geter, who would be a victim of slasher Michael Myers in Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers eleven years later, appear as the first two randoms to fall prey to Billy, a teenage couple who are trying to jump each other's bones on a downstairs rec room pool table while the girl's little sister rests uneasily upstairs.

The jingling of bells draws Quigley's character Denise away from the rec room, as she thinks it's the bells on her cat's collar. The cat must want to be let in for the night. When Denise opens the front door, the cat does come rushing in, but Billy is also there, bells on his costume jingling and an axe in hand.

Denise's boyfriend had stripped her down to her panties. When she goes to open the door, she slips her Daisy Duke short-shorts back on, but remains topless. A strange choice, obviously made because the filmmakers wanted boobies on the screen for as long as possible. But this may have been Denise's fatal mistake; presumably seeing her standing in the doorway topless is what made Billy realize the person in this house needed some punishment.

It's sad, but it seems that all they ever wanted from Quigley was to show her body. I do get it, she had a great one, but I wish it wouldn't be so obvious. Every movie she's in, it's the same... gets old and tiring. To me, anyway... sorry guys.

Billy attacks Denise, lifting her up and carrying her around like she's nothing, and she's on the receiving end of the most popular kill in the film. Her boyfriend has better luck at fighting Billy off, but still ends up on the body count.

Denise's death scene is my favorite. It looks so real and brutal.

Denise's little sister catches Billy on his way out of the house, and after confirming that she hasn't done anything naughty in the last year, Billy gives her a present - the bloody box cutter he used to slice open Pamela.

The little girl looks so confused. It's a great scene.

Next to die is a teenage bully who has stolen a sled from a peer. As he rides the sled down a snowy hill in the woods, Billy steps out in front of him and lops off his head with the axe.

This scene is also one of my favorites. I love all the snow and the dreary vibe. 

The police prove rather incompetent on their patrols for "the Santa Claus killer", first pulling their guns on a guy who was crawling into his daughter's bedroom window dressed as Santa -

This guy is played by Don Shanks, a stuntman who would portray Michael Myers in Halloween 5 five years later.

I still wonder what the guy was going to do with his daughter in the dark bedroom. Something's just off about it.

- and later gunning down a Santa walking across the front yard of the orphanage, shooting him dead right in front of the kids. Right in front of Billy's brother Ricky. This dead Santa was a deaf priest who was just showing up to visit the kids.

And poor priest, I guess shooting a suspect in the leg before you confirm he really is your guy is not something the police were into doing.

Officer Barnes, the cop who shot the priest for not responding to his orders, remains at the orphanage to watch over the place and protect the bullheaded, now wheelchair-bound Mother Superior. When the real killer Santa arrives at the orphanage, he strikes too quickly for Barnes to do anything about it.

Barnes really needed to have chosen a different profession. He sucks at being a cop.

With the cop out of the way, Billy enters the orphanage, heading for the woman who made his formative years a living hell, seeking to punish the one who taught him that punishment is necessary.

Mother Superior is the true villain of this movie, and the way things are resolved with her isn't exactly satisfying.

Silent Night, Deadly Night is a cheesy movie with plenty of laugh-inducing moments, but at the same time it makes me uncomfortable to watch it, its tone and atmosphere really get under my skin.

It's supposed to be the happiest time of the year! So, seeing such despicable things taking place during it surely is discomforting. 

Director Sellier did a fantastic job putting together a movie that's sort of an anomaly in his filmography. The majority of his credits were for family shows and religious programs. He wrote and produced a lot of things based on the Bible, and here he was making a Christmas slasher. This was so not Sellier's thing that he had editor Michael Spence direct the moments of blood and violence, but this mismatch of filmmaker and material totally worked out.

The movie has a lot of campy elements, but I think it was very well made and I do take it seriously. Aspects of it are truly scary, especially because something like that is not that unlikely to happen in real life, unfortunately.

Aside from providing "additional dialogue" for a 1988 movie called Tusks, Silent Night, Deadly Night is the only movie Michael Hickey ever wrote. Paul Caimi never had another script produced. Executive producer Dennis Whitehead never made another film. They only made one movie, but their one movie had an impact.

Silent Night, Deadly Night and A Nightmare on Elm Street shared an opening weekend, and SNDN out-performed ANOES that weekend. But while Elm Street's villain would soon have legions of fans cheering for him, the release of SNDN was met with angry protests by parents who were outraged that Hollywood would besmirch Santa Claus. This wasn't the first horror movie to be set at Christmas (there had been Black Christmas, among others), it wasn't even the first to have a killer Santa (Joan Collins was terrorized by one in the 1972 Tales from the Crypt movie), but the marketing for this one struck a chord.

I don't agree with the level of outrage and protests, but I can somewhat understand why parents would be upset. A kid seeing images of this movie's killer Santa is sort of along the lines of what Grandpa does to Billy. Of course, I watched this movie as a very young child and handled it just fine, it had no effect on my continuing belief in Santa, but some kids would freak.

Nothing really freaked me out when I was a child because I grew up watching horror movies, and my parents always explained to me that it wasn't real. I believed them. Those movies were always pure fun to watch. They still are. That being said, I do see why some parents would be bothered by it. 

TriStar was so troubled by the public's reaction to the film that they yanked it from theatres after its second weekend and sold the rights back to Ira Barmak. And thus, they lost their rights to a film that went on to become a cult classic with help from the publicity the protests provided.

Fun, disturbing, well structured, and with some cool kills, Silent Night, Deadly Night is a great slasher that I have watched many times over the years and will continue to watch, especially around December. For me, it's a Christmas classic up there with A Christmas Story, Christmas Vacation, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, etc. Christmas Eve is the scariest damn night of the year, and that's something I need to be reminded of every holiday season.

Silent Night, Deadly Night and Black Christmas are two of my favorites and I make sure to watch them every year when the holidays approach. The acting is pretty solid, the direction is great, the story makes sense... it's fun and serious at the same time, and I always enjoy watching it.


A tag line created for Silent Night, Deadly Night's home video release was: "If Nightmare on Elm Street gave you sleepless nights... And if Halloween made you jump at every shadow... And if every Friday the 13th was more frightening than the others... Then Beware. Silent Night, Deadly Night. Santa's Here." By 2012, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, and Friday the 13th had all been remade and/or rebooted, so it's quite fitting that Silent Night, Deadly Night would be part of the re-trend as well.

The SNDN remake was first announced in 2007 as a Sony Screen Gems project, with Joe Harris, co-writer of David Arquette's Ronald Reagan slasher The Tripper, attached to provide the screenplay. In 2006, a young filmmaker named Steven C. Miller had gotten a lot of attention in the horror world when his ultra low budget zombie movie Automaton Transfusion, which he had shot in 9 days with a DVX100 camera, was picked up by The Weinstein Company for distribution through their Dimension Extreme label. Following that success, Miller went up for a lot of projects, and one of the first he signed on to was the remake of Silent Night, Deadly Night.

And then the project fell apart due to rights issues  which were so convoluted that Miller gave a quote saying it was likely a remake would never happen.

Five years later, those rights issues were somehow resolved, and the remake, now with a shorter title, came to life again at Anchor Bay, with Miller directing from a screenplay by Jayson Rothwell.

As the film begins, a Santa Claus is getting ready for his day in a dingy bathroom while a jaunty Christmas tune plays on the radio. He shaves, he clips his nails, he starts putting on his costume. But there's something wrong here. A bound and gagged woman is screaming in the next room. The Santa cuts a plastic mask in half to put over the part of his face not concealed by his fake beard.

Once dressed in full regalia, the Santa goes into the house's basement, where he has a man named Jordan tied to a chair with Christmas lights. The woman upstairs is Jordan's lover, and she's also married to someone else, so as he pleads for his life Jordan first assumes that the Santa is the woman's husband. But as the non-responsive, axe-wielding Santa just stares at him, Jordan comes to realize this isn't a jealous husband, it's just some random maniac.

A random maniac who kills both the woman and Jordan.

Deputy Jordan is played by Brendan Fehr. I've been a fan since his Roswell days, and I was extremely upset and disappointed to see his character only last a few minutes. I would've liked Silent Night so much more if he had a bigger role. He was gone way too soon.

This opening is a sign of the times - modern slashers almost always have to have someone tied up and pleading for their life. Thankfully, the killer doesn't continue tying people up and conducts himself as a proper slasher for the rest of the movie.

It didn't bother me because it only happened once, but some movies really do abuse the torture angle these days.

It's the morning of Christmas Eve and police officer Aubrey Bradimore is awoken by a call from Sheriff James Cooper. Deputy Jordan was supposed to handle her shift, but rumor has it that Jordan has run off to Milwaukee with a married woman, so Aubrey has to work, even though this is the first Christmas since she lost her husband and had to move back in with her parents.

Jaime King (My Bloody Valentine '09, Mother's Day '10) plays officer Aubrey Bradimore. It never ceases to amaze me how different she looks every time I see her. She must really get into character. I didn't used to care for her much, but after seeing her in so many horror movies, I couldn't help but change my mind.

The town of Cryer, Wisconsin is suffering since the local lumber mill closed down, but that hasn't dampened its Christmas spirit any, they celebrate it big time with a parade followed by a huge Santa contest. Aubrey's father, a former police officer himself, is among the Santas who will be competing.

While the costumed killer roams the Santa-crowded streets of Cryer with his sack of presents (and weapons), the film takes some time to introduce a cast of townspeople, like Mayor Revie, who is making tough decisions in an attempt to keep the town alive. His coke-snorting teenage daughter Tiffany. Aubrey's co-workers; gossipy dispatcher Brenda, goofy Deputy Giles. Reverend Madeley, who will do anything for his female parishioners.

One particularly unpleasant citizen is a teen girl who treats her sickly mother like dirt. She doesn't ask for presents, she demands them, and she demands that she gets what she wants immediately.

The audience gets what they want immediately when this kid becomes Santa's next victim.

With that attitude, and demanding a designer bag at that age, I can only imagine what type of adult she'd grow up to be. This has to be one of my most anticipated  kills in a horror movie. And she got it pretty good.

Tiffany's boyfriend Dennis is introduced visiting his catatonic grandfather in a nursing home. As Dennis starts to leave so he can go see Tiffany, who he's been "boning pretty regular", Grandpa suddenly springs to life so he can warn Dennis that Christmas Eve is the scariest damn night of the year and he should run for his life if he sees Santa Claus.

Grandpa's lines are directly from the original film, but aren't effective at all here. Saying this to someone in their late teens doesn't work. The only response it evokes is, "Oh yeah, I remember that."

Major fail. It's one of the only things the two movies have in common, and also one of the best scenes in the original, but in the remake, it's very lame and it sounds like grandpa was possessed. Not effective or cool at all.

Aubrey responds to a complaint that a Santa in town has been upsetting the children, and finds cynical, smart-mouthed Santa Jim Epstein telling kids that Santa will bring them everything they ask for, and if those presents aren't under the tree on Christmas morning it's because their parents have put them on eBay.

The next call Aubrey responds to is about a stench emanating from an abandoned house. Within this house, she discovers the bodies of Jordan and his girlfriend.

A murder investigation ensues, with the woman's husband being cleared instantly because he has an alibi and the Sheriff relishing the fact that, since it's Christmas Eve and the main road in and out of their tiny town is closed, he and his officers are going to have to handle this situation on their own.

The killer Santa soon provides them with many more murders to investigate when he raids a motel room where softcore internet pornography is being shot and cocaine is being snorted.

While the photographer and videographer die in the motel room, the chase of the model (who's wearing nothing but panties) leads outside, into a Christmas tree lot... A lot with a woodchipper...

For some reason, Silent Night kind of reminds me of the My Bloody Valentine remake. It probably has to do with the naked (or almost naked here) woman running around at the motel, the small town being haunted by a serial killer, and obviously Jaime King. It just feels similar in a way.

I didn't enjoy Silent Night very much upon my first viewing of it in 2012, and this chase sequence was where the movie fully lost me, mainly for aesthetic reasons. I don't like the look of the digitally graded image, it doesn't feel like Christmas in this bright tree lot (and there just happens to be no one within screaming distance?) Everything was just seeming lame and trashy. It was so off-putting to me that the rest of the movie didn't hold my interest.

After Reverend Madeley takes several pictures of young female carolers in tight Santa dresses, he goes to his church to deliver a sermon about how internet pornography is one of the things destroying the world. The sermon is only attended by two people: an elderly woman and the killer Santa, who ends the service by stabbing Madeley to death.

The elderly woman swears she won't tell anyone what she's witnessed, so Santa gives her a present - a wad of bloody cash Madeley pocketed from a collection plate.

As the investigation continues, Sheriff Cooper gets way into it and starts spouting lines as if he were the star of a TV cop show. He doesn't even want to tell the Mayor what's going on until the killer is captured. "Never present to your superiors a problem. Always present the solution."

Bloody boot prints give the police the killer's shoe size, video from the porn shoot shows they're dealing with someone dressed as Santa. Soon the police have a couple suspects; Stein Karsson, who used to be the mill foreman, and Jim Epstein, who was playing Santa in a Montana town in 2008 at the same time as a multiple homicide was committed there.

By the time Cooper decides it's time to bring the Mayor into the loop, it's too late. The killer is already at the Mayor's place. The Mayor is killed, then Santa goes for Tiffany and Dennis just as they're about to take off their own Santa costumes. The killer makes quick work of them, and Tiffany is the recipient of a kill that duplicates Linnea Quigley's iconic death in the original.

In another instance where the look of this film irritates me, the reveal of Tiffany hanging on the antlers is largely obscured by a large light flare. Why?

Also, the antlers aren't high enough on the wall. It's right in the middle, so it takes away the "reality" vibe and feel it had in the original. Doesn't compare at all.

Santa crosses paths with Tiffany's little sister on his way out of the house, and shows no sign of having any interest in killing this little kid. Instead, he gives her a present. A bloody candy cane.

With this, a certain moment from the first movie has now been re-imagined twice. It's not as effective either time, first because giving an elderly lady money is nothing compared to giving a little girl a bloody box cutter, and this time because there's no threat to it. Billy was a danger to the little girl in the '84 movie. This killer is not a danger in this moment, and barely interacts with the girl. And again, a candy cane is no box cutter.

Both moments are lame. I think the movie might've been better off without them in it. Didn't serve any purpose whatsoever.

Jim Epstein is located, arrested, and jailed while declaring his innocence in his own unique, ranty way.

The investigation of Stein Karsson comes to a literal dead end when he pulls a gun on Aubrey, forcing her to shoot him. The man was a criminal, he was the town drug dealer known as "Mr. Snow", but he's not the killer.

After killing Karsson, Aubrey sees a red and white gift box in his place and realizes the same sort of box has been at all of the other crime scenes... and was also delivered to both the police station and her parents. Inside the boxes are lumps of coal that the killer sent to his intended victims.

Aubrey rushes home to find her father murdered and her mother bound in a closet but unharmed. Meanwhile, the killer is arriving at the police station. Jim Epstein is still locked in his cell, so neither of the suspects are guilty.

When Aubrey sees her dad like that, you truly feel for her. King did a great job at showing the character's rage and desperation. We see how close she was with her father throughout the movie, so the scene is pretty heavy emotionally.

The first victim at the station is Giles, who Cooper has had take out the garbage before he goes home for the night. Carrying the trash, Giles grumbles, "What is this, garbage day?" A nod to a famous line from Silent Night, Deadly Night 2.

Giles is killed and then Santa enters the police station, armed with a flamethrower. Facing off with the killer, Cooper delivers one last ridiculous hardass line - "Big mistake, bringing a flamethrower to a gunfight" - before Santa proves that it wasn't a mistake at all.

Deputy Giles is such a sissy... kind of funny sometimes, but it's not enough for me to care about the character. Cooper talks too much, makes it hard to take him seriously.

Cooper is played by Malcolm McDowell, fresh off the Rob Zombie Halloween movies, and he's definitely playing the character for comedy more than anything else.

The fire activates the building's sprinkler system as Santa sets aside the flamethrower and grabs an axe to track down Brenda. Along the way, Santa releases Epstein and appears ready to let his fellow Santa walk away, another sign that this killer has specific targets in mind. But Epstein's mouth leads to an altercation, and to the killer speaking the only line he says in the entire film: "Not nice."

Soon Aubrey arrives on the scene for a climactic showdown with the killer. The way things are resolved, it's never clear if she ever figures out just who the killer is.

The audience isn't given all of the information until an epilogue. During the investigation, a story was told about a man whose wife left him, so he sought revenge on her by going to a Christmas party she was attending dressed as Santa Claus and wielding a homemade flamethrower.

When the story is first told, it's shown in flashbacks that have had almost all of the color drained out of them except for the red in the Santa Claus costume, which is a very cool stylistic choice.

Style wise, it's probably my favorite scene in the movie.

Aubrey brushes the story off as an urban legend, but it really happened, and those events are directly tied to what has happened in Cryer this Christmas Eve. It is the killer's back story.

Unfortunately, the flamethrower/Christmas party events are also something that really happened in our own reality. Rothwell based this back story on a true crime that was committed in California in 2008.

Very unfortunate indeed.

Silent Night shares the basic "killer dressed as Santa" concept with Silent Night, Deadly Night, and has some nods to the original here and there, but for the most part it's its own film and could just as easily be called a sequel as it is a remake.

The only things in common are: part of the name, the grandpa scene, the antlers death scene and the killer "rewarding" the nice people. None of those work in the remake. They feel forced and out of place.

The way the story unfolds is completely different from the '84 film. We knew the '84 killer from the moment the movie began, while this is a "whodunit?" until its final scene... and I really don't find the answer and how it's given all that satisfying. It tells us who the killer is and gives an idea of why this has happened, but raises a whole lot more questions.

It wasn't until my second viewing that I sort of understood what they were trying to explain at the end. It's kind of confusing.

I don't like some of the stylistic choices Miller made, particularly with the lighting in some moments, while I do like other choices. In the end, I think he did a decent job paying homage to a slasher classic while making his own slasher in a modern style which isn't quite for me but doesn't sink the movie.

Even though Silent Night isn't exactly bad, I feel like the characters were empty for the most part. Acting was alright, but nothing really stands out other than King's performance.

I like how big of a mess that small town is. Politicians trying to look good, creepy, pervy priest. The town seems to be full of jerks, everyone is so rude to each other, but it works in the movie somehow.

Silent Night has its issues, but I enjoy it much more than I did when I first watched it two years ago. It's not a movie I feel the need to watch on a regular basis and it doesn't come close to being as good as the original Deadly Night, but I'd definitely choose it over Silent Night, Deadly Night parts 2, 3, 4, and 5.

I didn't like the remake very much the first time I watched it earlier in the year. There's way too much going on. The "separate" things like the motel, the Mayor and his family, the priest, the suspects, it all kind of overlaps and it almost loses you a few times. And since they try to cover so many things simultaneously, it feels rushed. That being said, I enjoyed it more watching it for the second time. Probably allowed me to understand it better and keep track of everything. I definitely won't be watching it as often as I do the original, and when comparing the two of them, the remake will always come second, but I'll watch it some more for sure.


  1. Shame on me...I had no idea there was a remake of Silent Night Deadly Night. I'll have to get my hands on both and take a look for myself. Great work.

  2. Thanks! When you give it a try let us know if you share some of our opinions. :)