December 11, 2012

Filthy Review - 'Silent Night, Deadly Night Christmas Survival Double Pack''

Silent Night, Deadly Night 1 & 2 – Christmas Survival Double Feature (1984/1987)

Review by Jude Felton

Whether this double feature is seeing a release to coincide with the Steven C. Miller remake, Silent Night, or whether Anchor Bay are just feeling especially festive is probably neither here nor there. It is however a welcome release, regardless of the quality of the films contained. Personally, I think Arrow’s edition of Silent Night, Deadly Night is excellent, but that is essentially a UK release, and with Anchor Bay’s double feature it gives US viewers a chance to catch up on these tales of Christmas carnage. On top of that, the Silent Night, Deadly Night contained here is the unrated version, as opposed to the previously released R rated version.

On to the films themselves though, and what a complete contrast of quality we get. The first Silent Night, Deadly Night film, originally released in 1984, is a cracking slice of festive mayhem. It’ll no doubt surprise, and piss off, a few folk when I say that I prefer if to the Grandfather of Slasher flicks, Black Christmas. Hey, that’s just me though, and Black Christmas doesn’t have Nuns. You want to score points with me? Throw a Nun or two into your movie.

Anyway, Billy and his baby brother, Ricky, bear witness to the brutal murder of their parents after they stop to help a stranded Santa Claus. This results in them both being moved to an orphanage that is run by Nuns, and a particularly strict Mother Superior. Billy is still traumatized by the murder of his parents and finds it hard to toe the line, so to speak. This all builds up over the years, and once he finally gets the chance to move out and get a job, the shit hits the fan as he goes on a murderous rampage.

Silent Night, Deadly Night is just damned good fun, plain and simple. It’s not a perfect film, but it has childhood trauma, religious repression, mad kill scenes and Linnea Quigley in an early, but memorable, role. There’s not much not to like here; it’s a film of its time and quite frankly I love the damned thing. Perfect Christmas entertainment and just the right tonic to counter the sickly sweet Festive flicks you will no doubt encounter.

Silent Night, Deadly Night 2, however, is a completely different kettle of fish. Good lord, this really is a film that has to be seen to be believed, for several reasons. It’s lazy, completely over the top and if you paid out money to see it on its original release, a complete rip-off; you would want your money back. Why? Let me tell you, my filthy little elves.

The film focuses on Ricky (Billy’s younger brother from the first film) and his therapy session with a psychiatrist. As they talk we are treated to extensive flashbacks to the first film. In fact, the first 40 minutes or so of Part 2 consist almost entirely of lengthy scenes from the first film. Hell, we even get flashbacks within flashbacks. This is padding of the highest order, and really lazy filmmaking, and due to this I would not suggest watching it straight after the first film, unless you are super patient.

Ok, so you’ve made it through flashback central and at around the 40 minute mark the action switches to more flashbacks (but new footage), where Ricky recalls his story, and how he ended up imprisoned and in therapy. It’s here that the movie moves into super cheesy mayhem.
 The acting, especially from Eric Freeman, as Ricky, is ridiculous. It makes Ricky come across as an almost festive Terminator, and really does need to be seen to be believed. There are some cool death scenes, as this is quite a violent sequel, but this truly is a case of a film being so absolutely terrible you just have to watch it. It is crap, but by god did I have fun watching it. Please don’t be under any illusion; it really is a terrible sequel. I had fun with it purely because it was so bad.

As a double feature though, this is good value for money and is well worth picking up, especially if you don’t have these films. There are a few extras between the two discs, including an audio interview with Charles E. Sellier, who directed the first film, and an audio commentary with Lee Harry, Joseph H. Earle and James Newman (writer/director, writer and actor respectively) for the sequel.

This Christmas Survival Double Feature is definitely a case of enjoying the first film and surviving the second. Buy it, enjoy the first film and then get drunk before you watch the sequel!

Silent Night, Deadly Night Christmas Survival Double Feature is available now from Anchor Bay.

No comments: