Merry Christmas from the Scariest Things Podcast!!! This year we’re giving you the gift that no one asked for, ever expected, and certainly one that no one ever put on their Christmas wishlist. It’s free and it’s here waiting for you. Totally unwrapped and ready to go…
The Silent Night, Deadly Night is a weird and wild odyssey that sometimes sticks to Christmas and oddly sometimes doesn’t. The franchise is crammed packed with stalwart horror and non-horror actors, including: Maud Adams, Mickey Rooney, Linnea Quigley, Clint Howard, Malcolm McDowell, Bill Moseley, Reggie Bannister, and even Robert Culp.
The entire franchise is built upon taking the most sacrosanct holiday icon of all time, giving Santa an axe, a penchant for vengeance and righteous fury, and a soft heart for kids and old people. Most of the films stay within these yuletide parameters, but some wander from the original storyline…and boy do they WANDER.
Originally thought by many to be an all out assault on the holiest of holidays, the series has two sort-of direct sequels, one sort-of remake of the original, one that follows the Christmas theme, and one that has nothing to do with Christmas and instead opts for a Lovecraftian story about a Satanic lesbian fertility cult.
Each one of the films shines on their own while simultaneously being considered some of the worst films ever made. A true Christmas miracle!
In honor of Christmas we re-re-watched all six of the films for YOU. This is your Silent Night, Deadly Night advent calendar countdown from worst to best!
Silent Night, Deadly Night II (1987)
★out of ★★★★★
Directed by Lee Harry
Sure this has one of the more oddball moments in grade-D horror in “It’s GARBAGE DAY!!!” but it’s the film that’s really putrid. That line is great, but the film ain’t. Following the originally original Silent Night, Deadly Night from 1984, part II is a big fat rip off. The film clocks in a modest 88 minutes, but approximately 35 precent of that 88 minutes is straight from the original.
The explores Billy’s little brother Ricky, who was a baby the night their parents were murdered, and who wound up at the same sadistic orphanage as Billy. The film recounts Ricky recounting his vague memories to a criminal psychologist. Ricky is also triggered by Christmas and vows revenge against the horrible Mother Superior!
Why You Should Watch Silent Night, Deadly Night II:
As previously mentioned, it’s cram-packed with footage from the first film and that’s pretty cool. Bonus? If you liked Linnea Quigley in the original from 1984 then you get to see her once again!
Silent Night, Deadly Night IV: Initiation (1990)
★★out of ★★★★★
Directed by Brian Yuzna
Directed by horror hound Brian Yuzna who produced Re-Animator, From Beyond and Dolls for his buddy, the late-great Stuart Gordon. Yuzna also directed Society, Bride of Re-Animator, and Return of the Living Dead 3. All solid pieces of 1980s schlocky horror, but Part IV: Initiation? This one’s a real puzzler. It strays entirely from the Billy/Ricky/Mother Superior story line involving holiday punishments and instead follows a coven of Lovecraftian witches as they set their sites on a Christmas black mass.
The film looks good, and in fact, might be one of the better looking in the entire franchise, but unfortunately has nothing to do with Billy/Ricky, and more importantly Christmas is barely an afterthought in this witchy thriller.
Why You Should Watch Silent Night, Deadly Night IV: Initiation:
This film has some wild and we do mean WILD body horror. Coupled with the fact that you get to see Clint Howard sleaze across the screen as one of the evil witch minions. Somehow Clint Howard manages to make a gutter-swilling hobo far more dirty than you’d ever imagine.
Silent Night, Deadly Night III: Better Watch Out! (1989)
★★★out of ★★★★★
Directed by Monte Hellman
At the helm of Part III Better Watch Out! is an awesome director straight from the Roger Corman school of filmmaking, Monte Hellman (Two Land Blacktop). This film also features the great Bill Moseley — before Rob Zombie got his paws on him — as little Ricky from Part II. Ricky’s body and mind have become preserved as a part twisted experiment by a less-than-mad scientist, Dr. Newbury. The good Dr. is experimenting with Ricky’s coma through a clairvoyant teen who can peer in to Ricky’s Santa-addled brain.
Eventually Ricky is set off by, you guessed it, a drunk Santa. Ricky awakens from his coma and seeks holiday revenge on this teen clairvoyant and her entire family.
Why You Should Watch Silent Night, Deadly Night III: Better Watch Out!:
I mean Bill Moseley. That ought to be enough right there, but his character Ricky is outfitted with this great and utterly ridiculous helmet apparatus that shows his brain while the brain goo/blood sloshes around from scene to scene. Imagine Frankenstein mixed with the Brain That Wouldn’t Die mixed with Billy from the original Silent Night Deadly Night. A toxic holiday cocktail if there ever was one!
Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker (1991)
★★★out of ★★★★★
Directed by Martin Kitrosser
As America started to clamor for more dolls and toys in their horror films — courtesy of Puppet Master and Full Moon — director Martin Kitrosser decided to take full advantage of this burgeoning horror sub-sub-genre. By casting THE Mickey Rooney (who mightily panned the original Silent Night, Deadly Night) as the toy maker, Kitrosser once again steered the franchise away from Billy/Ricky.
The film flashes back to a young boy, Derek, who sees his father killed at the hands of a dangerous and evil toy. Now having difficulties dealing with this Christmas trauma his mother decides to take him to the local toy cobbler, Joe Petto (Mickey Rooney)…get it. Turns out Joe Petto may be harboring a little secret, and if that weren’t enough, Derek’s dad might not be DEAD. *Gasp…
Why You Should See Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker:
This is a solid bit of late 1980s/early 1990s straight to VHS lunacy. Put this one in “they don’t make ‘em like this anymore” category, because it’s true. In addition to Mickey Rooney, who had over 700 film credits, it also has a bit part from Clint Howard as a booze swilling mall Santa.
Silent Night (2012)
★★★★out of ★★★★★
Directed by Steven Miller
If the cheesy 1980s straight-to-video Silent Night films aren’t your bag and you’re looking for something with a modern slasher sensibility then this is you flick! It’s brutal, it’s fun, it’s a slasher, and it’s got the creepiest Santa from any of the films in the franchise. Added bonus, the 2012 installment features the great acting of Jaime King (Black Summer) and the equally great Malcolm McDowell.
The film follows some of the elements of the 1984 original, and completely, but lovingly copies several of the scenes from the original, but it ratchets up the gore, the pain, and the gnarly. The story is pretty solid and serves as a giant ploy to allow Santa, and others, to deploy a flamethrower on Christmas eve. I know I asked for a flamethrower this year! Didn’t you?
Why You Should Watch Silent Night:
It’s a decent flick. In much the same way the 2004’s Dawn of the Dead was a caring, but different version of its 1978 progenitor, Silent Night acts on many of the same genuine impulses. It’s a film that gets it right, delivers the goods, and leaves you wanting Santa to punish, punish, and punish some more!
While the LA Times predicted in 1984 that this film would universally be on “everyone’s” worst films of all time, none could be further from the truth. Silent Night, Deadly Night continues to shock, bewilder, irritate, and titillate audiences several decades later. This film really is the embodiment of what you want it to be. If your desire is to be puritanically distressed, this film will do it. On the other hand, if your goal is hoot, holler, and revel in the holiday insanity, then grab some eggnog and get ready for a prolonged howl.
Silent Night, Deadly Night is a relatively simple film with a fairly clear through line. A young boy Billy (Robert Brian Wilson at age 18) witnesses his father killed and his mother raped and killed on Christmas eve — by SANTA! This entire pre-Christmas event takes place a mere hours after Billy’s told by his “comatose” Grandfather that he will most certainly be punished by Santa to which he quickly follows up with “You scared, ain’t ya? You should be! Christmas Eve is the scariest damn night of the year!”
Why You Should Watch Silent Night, Deadly Night:
Hallelujah! We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again “This is THE best holiday film out there.” It’s disturbing, randy, inappropriate, dumb, gory, and fun, fun, and more fun. See this one in a theater or get your hands on a crusty old VHS tape. Pair it with the cheapest beer you can find and have yourself the bloodiest Christmas ever!
There you go! Merry Xmas and Happy Holidays. Your free Christmas gift has arrived…the definitive ranking of all the Silent Night, Deadly Night films.
Disagree? Then you get a lump of blood-soaked coal!