Silent Night, Bloody Night

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Silent Night, Bloody Night
Theatrical poster
Directed byTheodore Gershuny
Screenplay by
Produced by
CinematographyAdam Giffard
Edited byTom Kennedy
Music byGershon Kingsley
  • Armor Films Inc.
  • Cannon Productions
  • Jeffrey Konvitz Productions
  • Zora Investments Associates
Distributed by
Release date
  • November 17, 1972 (1972-11-17)
Running time
83 minutes
CountryUnited States

Silent Night, Bloody Night is a 1972 American slasher film directed by Theodore Gershuny and co-produced by Lloyd Kaufman. The film stars Patrick O'Neal and cult actress Mary Woronov in leading roles, with John Carradine in a supporting performance. The plot follows a series of murders that occur in a small New England town on Christmas Eve after a man inherits a family estate which was once an insane asylum.

Many of the cast and crew members were former Warhol superstars: Mary Woronov, Ondine, Candy Darling, Kristen Steen, Tally Brown, Lewis Love, filmmaker Jack Smith and artist Susan Rothenberg. It was filmed in Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York in 1970 but was not released theatrically until 1972 under the alternate titles Night of the Dark Full Moon, and in 1981 as Death House (sometimes stylized as Deathouse).

Although it is attributed to Zora Investments Associates in the credits, the film was never registered with the United States Copyright Office, and thus fell into the public domain.


Silent Night, Bloody Night (full film)

On Christmas Eve 1950, Wilfred Butler dies in a burning accident outside his mansion in East Willard, Massachusetts. The residence is bequeathed to his grandson, Jeffrey. Twenty years later, in 1970, lawyer John Carter arrives in East Willard on Christmas Eve with his assistant and mistress Ingrid, having been charged by Jeffrey to sell the house. Carter meets with the town's leading citizens: Mayor Adams; Sheriff Bill Mason; the mute Charlie Towman, who owns the local newspaper; and Tess Howard, who operates the town's telephone switchboard. They all agree to buy the Butler mansion on behalf of the town for the bargain price of $50,000, which Jeffrey requires to be paid in cash the next day. Carter and Ingrid spend the night at the Butler mansion, but are brutally murdered in bed with an axe by an unseen assailant. After the murders, the killer places a crucifix in Ingrid's hand and proceeds to phone the sheriff, introducing himself as the house's owner and asking him to investigate Carter's disappearance. While talking with Tess, who forwards his call, the killer calls himself "Marianne".

At nightfall, Jeffrey arrives at the mansion to meet with Carter, but finds it locked and empty. He drives to the mayor's home, where he meets Diane, the mayor's daughter. The mayor has gone to the county's bank to obtain the required cash for the payment, so she redirects Jeffrey to the sheriff's office. Simultaneously, the sheriff heads to the mansion, but first stops at Wilfred Butler's disturbed gravesite, where he is beaten to death with a shovel. Failing to locate the sheriff, Jeffrey returns to the mayor's home, where Diane tells him she has received phone calls for her father from someone named "Marianne" who beckons her to the mansion.

Puzzled by the strange events, Jeffrey and Diane decide to drive to the mansion, but stop after they find the sheriff's abandoned car. The two stop by the newspaper office, where they meet Charlie who reveals that he cannot speak due to laryngectomy, but manages to explain to them (in written notes) that Tess has also gone to the mansion. Jeffrey and Charlie go after her while Diane researches the Butler house's history in the archives. Diane manages to piece together the Butlers' story: In 1930, Wilfred's wife died of tuberculosis. In 1933, his 15-year-old daughter Marianne was raped and got pregnant; the son she gives birth to is Jeffrey, who was sent away to California. In 1935, Wilfred converted the mansion into a mental hospital and had Marianne committed. The rest of the story has apparently been redacted.

Tess arrives at the mansion and finds the sheriff's car running outside. In the foyer, she is greeted by the unseen killer, who bludgeons her to death with a candlestick. Jeffrey meanwhile arrives at Tess's house and finds it empty, after which he returns to Diane at the newspaper office. Diane tells Jeffrey that, based on her research, his mother did not die during his birth like he had thought. Jeffrey and Diane depart together to the mansion. En route, they pass Charlie's car, which has been set on fire; moments later, Charlie throws himself at Jeffrey's car and Jeffrey runs him over, killing him. Examining the body, Jeffrey realizes someone has cut Charlie's hands off.

At the mansion, Jeffrey finds his grandfather's diary in the foyer, which reveals he was the one who got Marianne pregnant. The diary recounts how Wilfred grew hostile toward the complacent hospital staff, so on Christmas Eve 1935, he freed the hospital's patients, causing a massacre that resulted in Marianne's death as well. He then ended up faking his death in 1950 and has been living anonymously in a nearby mental hospital ever since before escaping earlier that day after reading from a local newspaper about the Butler mansion being put up for sale. Jeffrey tells Diane that his grandfather/father is still alive, and that the sheriff, Tess, Towman and the mayor were all former inmates Wilfred sought revenge on for the death of Marianne. The mayor arrives at the mansion armed with a rifle, and he and Jeffrey open fire, killing each other. The killer, revealed to be the elderly Wilfred Butler, finally appears, and Diane grabs Jeffrey's gun and shoots him dead.

In the final scene set several months later the following year, Diane takes one last look at the Butler mansion before it is destroyed by a bulldozer crew.


  • Patrick O'Neal as John Carter
  • James Patterson as Jeffrey Butler
  • Mary Woronov as Diane Adams
  • Astrid Heeren as Ingrid
  • John Carradine as Charlie Towman
  • Walter Abel as Mayor Adams
  • Fran Stevens as Tess Howard
  • Walter Klavun as Sheriff Bill Mason
  • Philip Bruns as Wilfred Butler (1929) (as Phillip Bruns)
  • Staats Cotsworth as Wilfred Butler (voice)
  • Jay Garner as Dr. Robinson
  • Donelda Dunne as Marianne Butler (age 15)
  • Michael Pendry as Doctor
  • Lisa Blake Richards as Maggie Daly
  • Grant Code as Wilfred Butler (age 80)
  • Debbie Parness as Marianne Butler (age 8)
  • Charlotte Fairchild as Guest
  • Barbara Sand as Guest
  • Candy Darling as Guest
  • Ondine as Inmate
  • Tally Brown as Inmate
  • Lewis Love as Inmate
  • Harvey Cohen as Inmate
  • Hetty MacLise as Inmate
  • George Trakas as Inmate
  • Susan Rothenberg as Inmate
  • Cleo Young as Inmate
  • Kristeen Steen as Inmate
  • Jack Smith as Inmate
  • Leroy Lessane as Inmate
  • Bob Darchi as Inmate


Principal photography for Silent Night, Bloody Night was November 30 - December 1970 in Oyster Bay, New York.[2] The James W. Beekman house in Oyster Bay served as the Butler home in the film.[3] The film originally had the working title Zora,[2] which was the title of an unrelated screenplay owned by Cannon Films.[4] Post-production took place in the summer of 1972, with director Gershuny and editor Tom Kennedy completing dubbing, scoring, and sound effects.[2]


The film was given a limited release in the United States under the title Night of the Full Dark Moon through Cannon Films,[2] beginning November 17, 1972.[a] It was subsequently released as Silent Night, Bloody Night in the spring of 1973,[8] and continued to screen under this title through December 1973.[9][10] It subsequently screened in Australia in December 1974.[11] The same year, the Sitges Film Festival in Spain screened the film as an official selection.[12]

The film was released once again in 1981 by Cannon under the title Death House,[13] stylized as Deathouse in some advertisements and on the film's title card.[b]

In 1974, television broadcasting rights to the film were sold to CBS for $300,000,[1] who subsequently screened it as a midnight movie.[15] The film was also shown on Elvira's Movie Macabre, part of WWOR-TV's Fright Night beginning in 1978, and became a staple of late-night television in the November and December months.[16] Despite the film's dark subject matter and depictions of violence, the network chose to air it at Christmastime each year. Executive Larry Casey commented on it, saying, "Don't get me wrong. I loved White Christmas and traditional holiday movies. But how many times can you watch those things? We always pushed the envelope on Fright Night, and Silent Night, Bloody Night was a great fit. WOR never got any complaints for showing it that I heard about."[17]

Critical response[edit]

In his book Slasher Films: An International Filmography, 1960 Through 2001, Kent Byron Armstrong wrote that the film "has a lethargic pace, but it provides enough intrigue and mystery to help a viewer retain interest."[18]

In a positive retrospective review for the film's 50th anniversary in Rue Morgue, Mark Lager wrote that the film is "a criminally forgotten hidden gem...Gershon Kingsley’s music is cold and haunting, a melancholy mood" and Matthew C. Dupée praised "director Ted Gershuny’s highly stylistic approach, an amazing location, a competent cast, and a dreary and dark script that was ahead of its time."[19]

Home media[edit]

Although there is a 1972 copyright statement in the opening credits for Zora Investment Associates, the film was not registered for copyright,[2] and since its release has fallen into public domain.[20] The film had its VHS release by Paragon Video in the 1980s.[4]

The film is available on DVD from various entertainment companies that specialize in public domain films, though many of the prints on these editions are of extremely poor quality.[21] The majority of the prints used on DVDs were sourced from the VHS transfer released by Paragon Video.

A high-definition restored print of the film (sourced from the original master of the Death House print) was released on DVD by Film Chest on December 10, 2013.[4] The same print was also used for a DVD release by boutique company Code Red in 2013, in a limited edition double feature paired with Invasion of the Blood Farmers (1972).[4]

Related works[edit]

Remake and sequel[edit]

A remake by UK production company North Bank Entertainment, Silent Night, Bloody Night: The Homecoming,[22] was released on DVD in the United States by Elite Entertainment in February 2014.[23]

New Wave Independent Pictures produced the sequel to the original film, titled Silent Night, Bloody Night 2: Revival. The film was released on March 15, 2015.[24]

Play adaptation[edit]

On December 10, 2016, the film was adapted into a play in Brooklyn, New York for a one-night-only production by One And Done Productions.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Contemporaneous newspaper sources show the film opening on November 17, 1973 in Terre Haute, Indiana;[5] Scranton, Pennsylvania;[6] and Binghamton, New York[7] (among others) under the Night of the Full Dark Moon.
  2. ^ Trade advertisements printed by Cannon in 1981 bear the Deathouse title,[14] as does the restored print of the film released on DVD by Film Chest in 2013.


  1. ^ a b Thomas, Bob (August 7, 1974). "Konvitz decides on job". Clarksdale Press Register. Clarksville, Mississippi. Associated Press. p. 10B – via
  2. ^ a b c d e "Silent Night, Bloody Night". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Los Angeles, California: American Film Institute. Archived from the original on December 18, 2018.
  3. ^ Chappell, Russ (May 13, 1973). "Out of castles in the air Monica dreams up a gracious living". New York Daily News. New York City. p. 16 – via
  4. ^ a b c d Smith, Richard Harland (December 20, 2013). "DON'T GET LONELY: SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT ON DVD (AGAIN)". Streamline. FilmStruck. Archived from the original on October 26, 2017. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  5. ^ "Summer of 1942 Lives Again". The Terre Haute Star. Terre Haute, Indiana. November 11, 1972. p. 6A – via
  6. ^ "Movie Timetable". The Times-Tribune. Scranton, Pennsylvania. November 17, 1972. p. 19 – via
  7. ^ "Movie Timetable". Press & Sun-Bulletin. Binghamton, New York. November 17, 1972. p. 11 – via
  8. ^ "Theater Schedule". Akron Beacon Journal. Akron, Ohio. May 11, 1973. p. A 14 – via
  9. ^ "Tri-State Drive-In Theaters Ass'n". The Pittsburgh Press. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. December 5, 1973. p. 41 – via
  10. ^ "Golden Gate". The San Francisco Examiner. San Francisco, California. December 14, 1973. p. 44 – via
  11. ^ "Silent Night, Bloody Night". The Sydney Morning Herald. Sydney, New South Wales. December 1, 1974. p. 107 – via
  12. ^ "Noche silenciosa, Noche sangrienta Silent night, bloody night". Retrieved June 6, 2019.
  13. ^ Singer 1989, p. 117.
  14. ^ Original 1981 trade advertisement from Cannon Films. Archived on January 10, 2018.
  15. ^ "Tuesday TV Highlights". Shreveport Times. Shreveport, Louisiana. May 23, 1976. p. 5-G – via
  16. ^ Arena 2011, pp. 56–57.
  17. ^ Arena 2011, p. 57.
  18. ^ Armstrong 2003, p. 268.
  19. ^ Lager, Mark (November 23, 2022). "Silent Night Bloody Night 50th Anniversary & A History of Holiday Horror". Rue Morgue.
  20. ^ "Silent Night, Bloody Night". Public Domain Movies. Retrieved December 17, 2017.
  21. ^ Cotenas, Eric. "Silent Night, Bloody Night". DVD Drive-In. Archived from the original on January 27, 2015.
  22. ^ "Silent Night, Bloody Night Remake Cooking in the UK". Dread Central. December 9, 2011. Retrieved June 27, 2012.
  23. ^ Barton, Steve (November 28, 2012). "Silent Night, Bloody Night: The Homecoming Find U.S. Distro". Dread Central. Archived from the original on December 26, 2019.
  24. ^ "Exclusive new photos: Latest Santa slayer in "SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT 2". Fangoria. December 9, 2011. Archived from the original on January 18, 2015.
  25. ^ One and Done Productions (December 10, 2016). "Silent Night Bloody Night w/One And Done Productions". Facebook. Archived from the original on January 10, 2018. Retrieved January 9, 2018.


  • Armstrong, Kent Byron (2003). Slasher Films: An International Filmography, 1960 Through 2001. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland. ISBN 978-0-786-41462-8.
  • Arena, James (2011). Fright Night on Channel 9: Saturday Night Horror Films on New York's WOR-TV. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland. ISBN 978-0-786-46678-8.
  • Singer, Michael (1989). Film Directors. Vol. 7. Beverly Hills, California: Lone Eagle Pub. ISBN 978-0-943-72827-8.

External links[edit]