14 Days of Christmas Horror | Silent Night, Deadly Night

We guide you through 14 days of Christmas Horror. We’re looking at a controversial slasher classic, Silent Night, Deadly Night. 

silent night deadly night billy

‘Tis may be the season for romantic comedies set in idyllic English cottages or whimsical tales of elves lost in New York, but if you’re in the mood for something a little more gory, we’ve got your back.

We guide you through 14 days of Christmas Horror. We’re looking at a controversial slasher classic, Silent Night, Deadly Night

We’ve already covered the remake, but it’s time to look at the original Silent Night, Deadly Night, which is considerably different from the remake. 

While the remake went in a completely different direction, the original 1984 film was shocking and had a surprisingly strong sexual undercurrent to its themes. 

The action begins in 1971, when a 5-year-old Billy witnesses a deranged Santa murder his father and rape and kill his mother. Billy and his young brother Ricky are sent to a brutal Catholic orphanage where they’re beaten and abused for years while being told punishment is ‘good’. 

silent night deadly night santa

Credit: Tri-Star Pictures

It’s really no surprise that when Billy turns 18, he’s pretty messed up. Working at a supermarket, Billy develops feelings for an attractive co-worker but he can’t stop seeing his parents being murdered every time he has sexual thoughts. Eesh, talk about a turnoff.

This very quickly escalates to Billy going insane, donning a Santa suit and going on a murder spree, punishing people as he was punished in the orphanage. 

Silent Night, Deadly Night was highly controversial on release, mostly because its poster – which depicted the killer in a Santa suit – had some people clutching their pearls in horror as the American Christmas was attacked. The film was released on the same day as Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street and actually performed it, but due to the controversy around the Christmas-themed slasher, Craven’s film became a mainstream classic while Silent Night, Deadly Night has gone down in history as an underground cult film. 

There were several protests against the film and Tri-Star Pictures ultimately pulled all the ads from TV after parents complained their kids were terrified of Santa Claus. The film was also soon pulled from cinemas. It was also relatively badly received by critics, many finding fault in the mindless bloodletting. 

silent night, deadly night

Credit: Tri-Star Pictures

If anything, all of the above only increased interest in Silent Night, Deadly Night. It became an infamous horror film, one that you had to see because the uproar around it was so heightened. Although it’s not a video nasty, Silent Night, Deadly Night garnered a similar reputation for its extreme violence. 

Although it’s all buried under heaps of gore and splatter, the film does have something to say about religion, abuse and sexuality. Billy clearly suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and is unable to process his increasingly sexual thoughts after witnessing his mother brutally raped before seeing her throat slashed right in front of him. 

The film spawned several sequels, none of which have really gone down in history as polarising or fascinating as the original. A reboot was originally planned for 2022, but there hasn’t been any updates on the project since 2021.

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