Silent Night, Deadly Night AKA Slayride
R1 - America - Anchor Bay Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Rob Fields (30th December 2007).
The Film

Ah, the Christmas season. People love watching all of the pretty lights as they adorn the houses of the neighborhoods. Then there's the snow that leads up to the white Christmases. There are days when you see Santa Claus at nearly every store ringing the bells for charity or catering to children at the big shopping malls. People also enjoy a good Christmas story. Some love listening to the story of Scrooge in "A Christmas Carol". Some also enjoy watching it in all its many versions that have been seen on TV or are available on DVD. Then there are all the family-friendly TV specials and movies. But what about the horror fans out there (like me for instance)? Fortunately, there are a handful of horror films for those of you who just don't feel like watching "A Christmas Story" (1983) for twenty-four hours straight on Christmas Eve and into Christmas Day. You've got "Black Christmas" (1974) and its remake (2006). You've got "Christmas Evil" (1980). And who could forget the "Silent Night, Deadly Night" series (there were five : six counting the soon-to-be-remade original)?
"Silent Night, Deadly Night" starts out on Christmas Eve in 1971 with little Billy Chapman (Danny Wagner) on a road trip with his family. They stop at a mental hospital to see his grandpa (Will Hare). Grandpa tells Billy about how Santa Claus brings presents to all the GOOD children, but he PUNISHES the naughty ones. In spite of the story, Billy seems destined to have a normal childhood with his loving parents. That is, until his parents make the mistake of stopping to offer Santa Claus help as he stands outside his broken down car. Why is that a mistake? 'Cause good ol' Santa's a cold-blooded killer, and he kills the parents (Tara Buckman and Geoff Hansen) right in front of Billy. Cut to December of 1974 : Billy is now at the Saint Mary's Home for Orphaned Children. Here, you see Billy getting disciplined (abused is more like it) time and again by Mother Superior (Lilyan Chauvin). Now we get to 1984. Billy (Robert Brian Wilson) is eighteen and employed as a stockroom handler at Ira's Toys. He seems good-natured and willing to go the extra mile while on the job. But when he's asked to play Santa Claus for the store on Christmas Eve, the trauma that has been stored deep within him since that Christmas Eve in 1971 finally starts catching up with him. Billy's turn to the dark side is realized at the employee Christmas party that night as he himself goes on a murder spree after getting drunk and seeing something in the back room that triggers his pent-up memories to come full circle.
It's definitely one of those horror films where people will say that either they liked it or didn't. Personally, I liked how the story was played out in Billy's case. Though it was tragic, this is the sort of thing that can possibly happen. Some of the acting could have been better. You start to notice this more in the scenes where Billy starts his killing spree up until the next morning. Some of the victims just didn't know how to be convincing when they were being killed. Still, gore hounds will see the payoff in place of this. I also didn't like having to watch an innocent Santa die for the reason that he did (to tell you the reason would be a spoiler). Other than that, I thought the story was good.
Here's a note for those of you who have purchased the previous Anchor Bay release of "Silent Night, Deadly Night." There is nothing new when it comes to this version. This is the exact same release from the menus right down to the film and extras. This release is more for first time buyers of this film. Also, note that "Silent Night, Deadly Night 2" (1987) is not included, like in the first release.

Video

The film is presented in Animorphic Widescreen format (1.85:1 ratio). Before the start of the film, you get a note : 'This presentation of SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT is the most complete and uncut version ever released. In order to achieve this, it was necessary for us to utilize two different film elements of varying quality. We have elected to preserve the un-cut nature of this film and hope that any resulting inconsistencies in the picture are more than compensated for by your enjoyment of the presentation in its entirety.' Even though the colors on this release stand out, you can still see bits of film grain. This is probably from the better of the two sources used, by the way. The second source looks like it came from an old VHS copy that's been played over and over again. Still, the differing qualities shouldn't bother anybody.

Audio

The film is accompanied by an English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack. In spite of two different film sources being used, there are no differing qualities with the sound. In other words, the audio is quite uniform. It also sounds like it could be a 2.0 surround track. Well done, Anchor Bay.

There are no subtitles available.

Extras

Anchor Bay has released this film with an audio interview, two galleries and a poster insert. Below is a closer look at these supplements.

There is an audio interview with director Charles E. Sellier, Jr. It runs 35 minutes 39 seconds and is a phone conversation between an interviewer and the director. Here you learn about how "Silent Night, Deadly Night" came about. Sellier conducted himself very professionally. You won't hear him using swear words or bad-mouthing people. Every now and then, you hear some of the pops in the background that come with analog phone. Also, there are no spoilers here.

There is a poster & still gallery featuring 20 stills. Here you can see lobby cards, original posters, newspaper theater ads and videocassette covers. Ah, the glory days . . .

The 'Santa's Stocking of Outrage' option is another gallery featuring 26 stills. Here you can read statements from average people to movie critics who don't exactly like the idea of a Christmas horror movie with a killer Santa Claus. There's even a quote from Mickey Rooney in here.

Also included in the case is a poster replica insert.

There's an Easter egg found on this disc : From the main menu, go into the 'extras'. Now just sit back and listen to the song that plays in the end credits. It's "Santa's Watching" and lasts 2 minutes 8 seconds.

Overall

The Film: B+ Video: B Audio: A- Extras: B- Overall: B

 


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