Plot: As a child, Billy Chapman witnessed a man dressed as Santa Claus murder his parents, on Christmas Eve, no less. This horrific experience would scar anyone, but then Billy would endure years of abusive nuns at an orphanage, so by the time he grew up, Billy (Robert Brian Wilson) had some real issues. He has started to leave the past behind however, landing a job at a department store and enjoying time with his girlfriend, at least until Christmas nears. As part of the store’s holiday promotion, Billy is told to dress as Santa Claus and interaction with all the children at the store. Of course, his mind begins to break under the stress of the holidays, especially when he himself is forced to dress like the man who killed his parents. Once he snaps and turns to violence, can he ever be stopped?
Entertainment Value: Silent Night, Deadly Night is a straight forward, no frills horror movie, not that there’s anything wrong with that. In a sea of 80s horror that is blood and sleaze soaked, this movie seems tame by comparison, but it features a fun lead and some memorable moments. Robert Brian Wilson is capable as our killer Santa, but he doesn’t do much to stand out as he slaughters. I know some prefer a straight, minimal camp type approach and that’s the case here, as the movie does little to ramp up the craziness or camp value. Linnea Quigley has a fun role here, as a topless victim in the movie’s coolest kill scene. As a kind of generic slasher, the movie works well enough, with a nice body count and a narrative that sets the table, then rarely intervenes. I suppose I just need a little more than serviceable horror and nostalgia, as Silent Night, Deadly Night checks the right boxes, but does so with little style. I think most horror fans will still have fun here, as it does provide some kills and that blast of 80s nostalgia, but it is just too tame and run of the mill for my tastes. I would have liked more stylish kills, on screen violence, and camp, but that’s just my preference. Not serious enough to be scary, but not silly enough to be campy, Silent Night, Deadly Night winds up as a middle of the road, straight ahead horror flick.
A few topless scenes, most quick and one extended, when Linnea Quigley faces her imminent doom by antlers. The sex scenes are very tame, so sleaze is minimal and aside from the one scene, the topless shots are ever so brief. On the blood side, we have a lot of blood, but not much on screen violence or gore. In the unrated version, we are given a little more of the good stuff, however. Most of the time, we know some violence is being uncorked, but it isn’t visible and we’re shown the aftermath. So a hammer stuck in a head, blood soaked shirts, and the like, but very little actual gore is shown on screen, which is kind of a let down. A few kills offer some fun blood, but only one is kind of creative. Much like the rest of the movie, the kills are passable, but don’t go past the minimum effort required. The dialogue has a few bright spots, with some fun bits of dysfunction and banter. The movie never embraces the camp aspect however, so much of the writing is serious and bland, so it rarely veers into “so bad, it is hilarious” type of material. But a few really fun lines creep in, so that’s good news. Aside from the premise of a killer Santa, the movie never veers from the usual horror tropes and never goes over the top with madness. A movie about an insane man dressed as Santa seems ripe for chaos, but no such luck.
Overall Insanity: 1/10