Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) from Tuna

Silent Night Deadly Night (1984) caused a furor when it was released. Parents came out of the woodwork to condemn the filmmakers for creating a Santa Claus villain, and making a film so violent and gory. They succeeded it getting it banned from showing during the Christmas season.

Maybe I am just dense, but it is (and was) rated R, and was called Silent Night Deadly Night. What was in these parents so called brains when they took kids of the "I believe in Santa" age to this film? It is a low budget ($750k) slasher film with evil Santas, but is far from the bloodiest I have seen. It is better made than most, and gives more insight than is usual into the psyche of the slasher.

Young Billy Chapmen is on his way to visit grandpa with his parents and his baby brother, and can't stop talking about Santa coming that night. Grandpa seems in a permanent trance, but when everyone leaves Billy with him to have a conference with the doctors, Grandpa tells Billy that there is a downside to Santa. If you have been naughty, even once during the year, Santa will punish you. On the way home, a stranded Santa stops their car on the road, shoots his father, rapes his mother (Tara Buckman), then slits his throat.


  • Tara Buckman shows breasts during the rape.
  • Barbara Stafford is nude in the sex scene, but we only see breasts.
  • Toni Nero shows breasts in a lengthy sex and death scene.
  • Linnea Quigley is wearing only a pair of panties for most of her appearance as a babysitter.

Cut to several years in the future. Billy lived. He is a little older, and living in a Catholic orphanage with his little brother. It is Christmas time, and he is upset, drawing a hideous Christmas picture. Mother Superior sees fit to punish him, especially when he peeps on two older kids (Barbara Stafford and Paul Mulder) having sex. It is here that he learns sex is naughty.

Cut to several more years in the future, and Billy is a large teenager. Sister gets him a job in a toy store for the Christmas season, and he does well until it gets very near to Christmas. Things escalate when their Santa breaks a leg, and they make Billy the store Santa. After closing on Christmas eve, they have a Christmas party, and Billy (as Santa) observes his coworker Toni Nero being seduced/forced into sex by another employee. This is, of course, naughty, and Santa must punish them.

This starts his murderous reign.

DVD info from Amazon

  • The DVD is newly remastered

  • widescreen anamorphic

  • totally uncut version

  • image gallery

  • phone interview with director Charles E. Sellier Jr.

  • same disk also features the sequel

I see no reason for the initial furor, and the film has attained cult status.  This is not an especially bloody slasher film, but does sustain tension better than most, is well filmed, has lots of breast exposure, and is reasonably well acted.

In case there are still any real thick parents out there, don't show this to your 5 year old.

The Critics Vote


The People Vote ...

  • Amazingly, this was a theatrical release. Gross: $2.5 million.


The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a C, a solid genre film.

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