Silent Night, Deadly Night
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- Not to be confused with the 1974 horror film Silent Night, Bloody Night.
|Silent Night, Deadly Night|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Charles Sellier|
|Produced by||Ira Richard Barmak
Scott J. Schneid
|Screenplay by||Michael Hickey|
|Story by||Paul Caimi|
|Starring||Robert Brian Wilson
|Music by||Perry Botkin|
|Editing by||Michael Spence|
|Distributed by||TriStar Pictures|
|Running time||79 minutes
85 minutes (Unrated cut)
Silent Night, Deadly Night is a 1984 horror film produced by Ira R Barmak, written by Michael Hickey, directed by Charles E. Sellier, Jr. and starring Robert Brian Wilson, Lilyan Chauvin, Gilmer McCormick, Toni Nero, Linnea Quigley, Britt Leach, and Leo Geter.
The film focuses on a young boy who, after witnessing his parents' brutal murder at the hands of a man clad in a Santa suit on Christmas, grows up tumultuously in a Catholic orphanage and slowly emerges into a spree killer himself. The film caused an uproar when released in 1984 during the holiday season, and has developed a cult following.
Christmas Eve, 1971: Five-year-old Billy Chapman, his parents and his infant brother Ricky are on their way to visit Billy's institutionalized grandfather. At the institution, Billy's parents review the catatonic grandfather's records with the doctor, leaving Billy and the old man alone. With the adults gone, Grandpa suddenly becomes lucid and giddily tells Billy the terrible, secret truth about Santa Claus: he not only gives presents to good boys and girls, he punishes naughty ones.
Not far away, a man disguised as Santa Claus robs a liquor store and shoots the clerk. Billy and his family, heading home, come upon the man, his car apparently broken down on the dark, deserted road. Against Billy's terrified objections, his father pulls up beside the stranded man, who pulls out his gun and shoots Billy's father. The man then drags Billy's Mom from the car and assaults her. Billy runs into a field, hides and watches the scene unfolding.
1974: Billy and Ricky live at St. Mary's Orphanage. Eight-year-old Billy is reprimanded for drawing a picture of a bloody Santa Claus and a decapitated reindeer. Later, he sees an older boy and girl starting to have sex, the sight causing him to have flashbacks to the night his parents were killed. The Mother Superior thrashes the older children and explains to Billy that when people are naughty, they are always caught and must be punished. That night, traumatized by the day's events, Billy has nightmares about Santa Claus.
Christmas morning, 1974: The orphanage kids line up to sit on Santa's lap. Billy, terrified by the sight of him, is forced to join in or face his punishment. Finding himself face-to-face with his worst nightmare, Billy punches Santa in the face and is later thrashed.
1984: Billy, now eighteen-years-old, is found a job at Ira's Toy Store by Sister Margaret. Things go well until the Christmas decorations begin to appear, including images of Santa Claus. Billy, in his undistracted moments, has a crush on co-worker Pamela, and dreams of making love to her, an act which in his dream is followed quickly by violent punishment, leaving him trembling in the corner of his dark room. At the store, an increasingly shaky Billy is prevailed upon by his boss to take on a new duty: store Santa. Looking in a full-length mirror, Billy sees himself as a demonic Santa Claus. He spends the day scaring children and telling them that he will punish them if they are naughty.
After closing time on Christmas Eve, after the staff party, Billy goes looking for Pamela. He finds her with Andy, who opens Pamela's blouse. Billy, drunk and upset, becomes angry and has flashbacks to the night his parents were killed. He resolves to punish them, hanging Andy and stabbing Pamela. Then, he kills the store owner and the assistant manager.
In a house nearby, two teenagers are having sex on a pool table. The girl hears something upstairs, and opens the front door to Billy, who impales her on the antlers of a mounted reindeer over the fireplace. The boy comes looking for her and Billy kills him too. Interrupted by a little girl, Billy asks her if she has been naughty or nice. When she says she's been good, Billy gives her his box-cutter. Then, he heads outside. Two young boys are sledding when they're attacked by a couple of bullies who steal their sled. As one of the bullies comes sliding down a hill on the stolen sled, Billy steps out of the shadows and decapitates him with an axe.
On Christmas morning, Police Captain Richards tallies the night's murders, attributed by witnesses to Santa Claus, for Sister Margaret, who is desperate to locate the missing Billy. She tells the Captain she suspects Billy of the killings because of his history. She deduces that his next attack will likely be at the orphanage.
At the orphanage, the excited children wait to see Santa Claus, who is due to visit. The Mother Superior, now in a wheelchair, tries to control them. Santa Claus trudges slowly through the snow toward the orphanage. A police car races up, the officer spots him and tells him to stop. Santa does not respond so the officer shoots him. When the fake beard is pulled away, the officer realizes it isn't Billy but old hard-of-hearing Father O'Brien. Billy is still at large so the officer goes to search the grounds. As he rounds a corner of the orphanage, Billy kills him with his axe. A child sees Billy and lets him in, believing him to be Santa. Billy approaches the Mother Superior and raises his axe to kill her. Before he can strike, Captain Richards shoots Billy, who collapses and dies. Ricky, standing near his slain older brother, looks up from him with a furious stare directed at the Mother Superior and snarls, "Naughty!"
- Robert Brian Wilson as Billy Chapman (age 18), the main character and primary antagonist. As a young boy, he was scarred for life when a criminal disguised as Santa Claus killed his parents, which is why Billy never liked Santa.
- Danny Wagner as 8-year-old Billy
- Jonathan Best as 5-year-old Billy
- Lilyan Chauvin as Mother Superior, an old Catholic sister who abused Billy at the orphanage when he was young.
- Gilmer McCormick as Sister Margaret, a nice Catholic sister who is Mother Superior's assistant and unlike Mother Superior, she was nice to Billy.
- Toni Nero as Pamela, Billy's love interest.
- Linnea Quigley as Denise
- Britt Leach as Mr. Sims
- Nancy Borgenicht as Mrs. Randall
- H.E.D. Redford as Captain Richards
- Leo Geter as Tommy
- Randy Stumpf as Andy, Billy's co-worker.
- Will Hare as Grandpa Chapman, Billy's paternal grandfather.
- Tara Buckman as Ellie Chapman, Billy's mother who later gets killed by the killer Santa by having her throat slit after he tried to rape her.
- Jeff Hansen as Jim Chapman, Billy's father who also gets killed by the killer Santa Claus by getting shot.
- Charles Dierkop as Killer Santa, a drunk criminal dressed as Santa Claus.
- Eric Hart as Mr. Levitt
- A. Madeline Smith as Sister Ellen
- Amy Stuyvesant as Cindy
- Max Robinson as Officer Barnes
Controversy and reception 
Silent Night, Deadly Night was one of the most controversial films of the 1980s because the ad campaign, particularly posters and TV spots, made significant emphasis on the killer being dressed as Santa Claus. The PTA fought to have this film removed from theaters due to its subject matter and the fact that it was shown around Christmas, although an earlier film with a similar premise had gone unnoticed.
Upon its original release in 1984, the film received a generally negative reception. Siskel and Ebert condemned the film and went so far as to read the film's production credits on air, saying "shame, shame" after each one. Siskel also said that all the money the filmmakers were making off of this film was blood money. Leonard Maltin also denounced the film, calling it a "...worthless splatter film", giving it zero stars and asking: "What's next, the Easter Bunny as a child molester?" Large crowds (mostly angry families) formed at theaters and malls around the nation to protest the film. TriStar Pictures, its original distributor, pulled all ads for the film six days after its release (November 15). The film itself was also withdrawn shortly thereafter, due to the controversy.
The film was later re-released by an independent distributor, Aquarius Films, beginning in spring 1986, with an ad campaign replacing the original "Twas the night before Christmas"-theme with a new one that centered on the controversy surrounding the film and edited out all close-up shots of Billy, in the Santa suit, with weapons. The print ad material also replaced the original 'Chimney' picture with one that talked about the controversy.
In United Kingdom, the movie was never submitted for certification to the BBFC. As such, although it had never been actually classified as a "video nasty", its distribution was prohibited in the UK. However, in 2009, Arrow Films submitted the film to the BBFC for classification, who passed the film uncut with an 18 certificate. The UK DVD was released on November 23, 2009.
Its sequel was denied a BBFC certificate in 1987 after the distributors refused to make the cuts required for an '18' certificate.
The film was released theatrically in the United States by TriStar Pictures on November 9, 1984. On its opening weekend, the film outgrossed Wes Craven's landmark slasher A Nightmare on Elm Street, which also opened the same day. Before being pulled from theaters, it grossed $2,491,460 at the box office.
Home media 
The film was released three times on DVD in the United States by Anchor Bay Entertainment. The first release was a double feature disc alongside sequel Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 in 2003. The second release was in 2007.
The film was released on DVD in the United Kingdom in 2009 by Arrow Video; this set includes an audio interview with director Charles E. Sellier Jr., poster, booklet including "Deadly Director: Charles Sellier Interviewed by Calum Waddell" and "Silent Night, Sex Night: The Slice and Times of Linnea Quigley".
Silent Night, Deadly Night spawned four sequels.
- Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (1987)
- Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out! (1989)
- Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation (1990)
- Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker (1991)
In early 2012, it was announced that a remake titled simply Silent Night was going into production. The film will be directed by Steven C. Miller and will star Malcolm McDowell, Jaime King, Donal Logue, Lisa Marie, Ellen Wong, Brendan Fehr, Courtney-Jane White, Mike O'Brien, Cortney Palm, John B. Lowe, Curtis Moore and stuntman Rick Skene as Ronald Jones Jr., The Killer Santa. It will be released by Anchor Bay Entertainment.
- YouTube - Siskel & Ebert At the Movies 1984 Silent Night, Deadly Night
- Unknown (2006). Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film (DVD (Region 1)). United States: THINKfilm.
- BBFC Website - Silent Night, Deadly Night Classification
- "The Six Slays of Christmas - Day Five". Dread Central. Retrieved 2011-12-23.
- "Silent Night, Deadly Night". boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 2011-04-13.
- "Silent Night, Deadly Night / Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (DVD)". dvdempire.com. Retrieved 2011-04-13.
- "Silent Night, Deadly Night (DVD)". dvdempire.com. Retrieved 2011-04-13.
- In the UK? Win a Copy of Silent Night, Deadly Night on DVD!
- Boston Residents: Catch a Double Feature of Silent Night, Deadly Night and Black Christmas This Friday!
- "Malcolm McDowell Talks Silent Night, Deadly Night Remake". dreadcentral.com. Retrieved 2012-04-18.
- Psychotronic Video Guide (1996) - Michael J. Weldon
- Silent Night, Deadly Night at the Internet Movie Database
- Silent Night, Deadly Night at AllRovi
- Silent Night, Deadly Night at Rotten Tomatoes
- Silent Night, Deadly Night review with animated screenshots
- At the Movies, 1984-Silent Night, Deadly Night