Saturday, December 20, 2008

Trailer Trash XXV: Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

"He knows when you've been naughty!"

Ah, the holiday-themed slasher - a cornerstone of the horror genre. Back in the glory days of the video nasty era, you rent a VHS and see people stabbed on any holiday Hallmark sells cards for. A few of the more popular holidays for rampaging psychos are Halloween (of course), Valentine's Day, and the Fourth of July. Even April Fool's Day has its own knife-wielding maniac flick. No question about it, though - the most creative and interesting holiday horror films are all centered around Christmas.

Ho Ho Horror! Merry Death-mas! Santa Clause is coming... to kill you! See how easy it is? For most screenwriters, the tagline practically writes your holiday horror script for you.

Most of these films involve overly-stabby Santas, but a few branch out to elves, gremlins, and deadly dwarves. A few classics are Black Christmas (aka You'd Better Watch Out), Christmas Evil (completely unrelated to the movie New Year's Evil), Silent Night Bloody Night, Don't Open Til Christmas and To All A Good Night. More recent entries in the genre are Jack Frost, Santa's Slay and Santa Claws.

What makes this holiday such a viable one for the genre? That's a college thesis I'll let someone else write. BUT - considering one of the most beloved Christmas tales, Charles Dickens' novel A Christmas Carol, involves ghosts and all sorts of creepy stuff, it's certainly not a new trend.

That brings us to today's Trailer Trash spotlight: 1984's Silent Night, Deadly Night. By far the most prominent of holiday slashers, this one has spawned not only four sequels but an upcoming remake.

The plot of the first film is convoluted and nonsensical, but I'll boil it down for y'all: A little boy witnesses a robber dressed as Santa Claus kill his parents. Fifteen later that trauma leads him to dress as Santa Claus and go on a killing spree. It's more or less the same as Batman's origin story, but the results are oh so very different.

Y'know, you're probably getting sick of my chattering. Here's the trailer:

At 0:07 - I'm already scared by all of the very ominous-looking toys.
At 0:35 - No, Santa!
At 0:44 - Santa's strong!
At 0:52 - Don't kill Frosty!
At 0:56 - Splat!

For as silly as it is, the movie sorta works as a cheesy slasher flick. It's better than its sequels, for what that's worth, and has plenty of creepy moments. (Those shots of the creepy toys in the trailer? There has to be at least ten minutes of creepy toy footage in the film.) And that's Linnea Quiggley getting impaled on the deer's antlers, because it's barely an 80s horror film unless she's in it. I'll say this: if you're in the mood for a killer Santa movie, you could certainly do a lot worse than Silent Night, Deadly Night!

Happy holidays, y'all!

"He's Dreaming of a Red Christmas."

Trailer Trash is a weekly tribute to oddball, cheesy and often just plain terrible movie trailers. Writers: These movies got made... so can yours! You can read through our archive by clicking here.