Thursday, December 6, 2012

Silent Night (2012): A Christmas Horror Release to Kiss Under the Mistletoe

Yes, you were skeptical. Could a remake of a schlock horror classic from 1984 with absolutely iconic Christmas horror imagery hope to live up to the hype it could potentially generate? From the get go I was not a happy horror fan even though I am not blatantly opposed to remake. I've liked a few questionable/unpopular ones in recent years though I did enjoy the remake of the Bob Clark classic Black Christmas. Why did the remake of Silent Night, Deadly Night irk my dill (pickle)? The name. If you're going to remake a horror classic, potentially bastardize a fan favorite and fuck it up in the process, well... at least give it its name! Silent Night. Horror? Not horror? Basically yea marketeers took what was hip and cool about the damn title and decided it wasn't worth the effort. Two words. Deadly. Night. Gone. Stricken from the record. I lost hope. I didn't publicly denounce a movie I had not as of yet seen, but I wasn't going to outright support it or give it the benefit of the doubt. The concept didn't even worry me when I heard that there was a potential for a remake; only when the name was modified did I lose favor. That was of course until  the one sheet hit like a fat many jumpin' down a chimney in a red suit without a parachute. The blackest eyes. A dolls eyes. His father's eyes. Santa's eyes. What a beautiful new way to make Santa look evil! Throw a creepy mask on him and make him look like he's raided Alice Cooper's makeup bag. So remember how I was just sitting here saying I had lost all hope with Silent Night due to the naming convention? Forgotten. It didn't matter. With a poster like that you can sell shit on a shingle and call it liquid coal ready for your stocking. I waited eagerly.  I avoided the trailer though I caught a few seconds here or there to make sure it was ready for the Dr. Terror readership. I truly did not want to know what to expect. The plot is simple enough to guess, why see all the goodies in the trailers.  Finally, I was able to sit down and watch it during the Christmas season, and what to my wondering eyes should appear?

Synopsis from Anchor Bay:

Santa is back, and he’s got a brand new bag of tricks. As their small Midwestern town prepares for its annual Christmas Eve parade, Sheriff and his deputy discover that a maniac in a Santa suit is murdering those he judges as “naughty.” Their sins? Porn, adultery, greed... And he will make sure they rest in heavenly pieces.

Alright Steven C. Miller, I wasn't thrilled with Aggression Scale. I'm sorry that I didn't like it. Nothing got me good and though oodles of people would disagree, well... I won't be signing its praises. It just wasn't for me and that's okay. What you were able to do for a horror fan in love with Christmas horror through your rather boot cut jean approach to Silent Night, Deadly Night forgives you for any and all sins you may perpetrate within the next year. That being said I noticed that Mr. Miller has taken up the ax on another classic 80's camp splatterfest, Motel Hell. Mr. Miller, if you are able to do half of what you did for the Silent Night, Deadly Night remake to the remake of Motel Hell, you will have a new fan boy, but if I see Malcolm McDowell back as Farmer Vincent there will be fisticuffs. As of right now I'm happy. The negative Nancy's do not win the day and no matter how much  I can't believe it, the overwhelming opinions on Silent Night are positive. After seeing the movie, it absolutely does not surprise me that the movie is being met with fan and critical approval. What does surprise me is how few negative reviews I'm reading based on the fact that it's a remake. Horror fans know good horror especially when it's got a bowl full of jelly.

I suppose horror fans are used to seeing a variety of folks dressed up as Santa killing people. Christmas Evil, Silent Night, Deadly Night, Don't Open Till Christmas, Santa's Slay... they pile up, and you know, it's okay to see a different guy playing Santa Claus killing people. We're used to seeing different versions of Santa Claus in the really real world, so on screen it shouldn't make a difference. Sure we all have our preferences, but really, it's like Dracula; there's not just one. Hell, you don't even need to stick to one tradition of Santa Claus imagery. Coca Cola doesn't own him, and despite being created over 100 years ago in the modern day red suit incarnation, the big man has still evolved. So Santa horror remakes can and do work and there's minimal harm or foul associated with taking what was once sacred like Silent Night, Deadly Night and applying a modern day formula.

The movie itself is a kill by numbers flick though it doesn't focus solely on teens or any one group. There's a murder for everyone and betrays the 80's slasher pattern much as the original film did. Kids? KILL! Parents? PUNISH! The innocent, truly not naught? NAUGHTY! It's okay to break the rules. Santa Claus doing anything other than delivering presents is downright unsanitary to American audiences. Now show this movie to the Norwegians who gave us the fantastic dark vision of St. Nick, Rare Exports and you'll get a different play on the tradition though I don't think they would approve of seeing Santa on a slaughter path. The blood flows. The blood is fun. The kills are well thought out and though there's CGI it isn't always in your face. When it is in your face, it's being used as over the top, comedic fodder. Totally acceptable in this "Piranha 3D lover's" CGI hating world. Yes, they do bring back a kill or two from the original film and update them slightly though I don't want to reveal which ones. One of them is on my top ten horror film kills of all time list (it's an unofficial list) and is redone effectively. Silent Night gives the gift of gore.

Your cast ain't bad with one exception. I enjoy Malcolm McDowell is quite possibly everything in which I see him. I'm a happy camper knowing that he's still acting and creating very dramatic, rich vocalized roles that demand austerity and create a send of stoic respect. Silent Night was not the movie for Malcolm. I guess  this is where I'd have like to have seen the over dramatic  casting of a John Saxon, serious man, but someone who can play funny and play not so serious. He's not bad, but his performance detracted from the whole in a way that may have been easily remedied. Maybe his name brings a star label to the cover and an ounce of credibility and for that important reason I'll give his inclusion in the film a pass. This movie must be taken somewhat seriously at first before it drops off into a gonzo slay ride of gore. Jamie King, you were great in the My Bloody Valentine and Mother's Day remake. I'm glad she's keeping the holiday horror going strong even if it's just in the remake-verse. Lisa Marie is a doll. Got to be within five feet of her at Monster Mania a year ago and couldn't even get over my star fright to talk to her. I've loved her since Ed Wood and can't wait to see her in Lords of Salem. Nice to see her in a genre picture. Donal Logue, you're performance this season on Sons of Anarchy was perfectly grit and gristle. It's also nice to see a talented actor hop on the horror train outside of a flop like Shark Night 3-D. Santa Jim is a dominant evil force in presence and look. The acting was appropriate. You're all on the nice list (even you Malcolm, you didn't cast yourself).

What sets this movie off from the 1984 PTA protest fest is that it was marketed to adults. The advertising was left off the boobtube although one might argue that FaceBook has more reach anyway. Marketing people have learned that when you make parents mad, you don't always get the support of the studio and you may just make less money than you put up for a film. Anchor Bay put out a fine release and didn't need to damn your five year old's brain or eyeballs to do it. We don't have a full on Santa back story before the killings begin either. You're left to enjoy how evil this masked Santa looks and behaves without feeling a little bad for him. Not feeling sorry for bad Santa Claus is a plus. Do I miss the iconic Santa with ax coming out of the chimney? Sure. I miss the bad dialogue. The overacting. I miss the big box VHS... wait... this is all nostalgia and the number one reasons that remakes get misjudged as poor movies. Silent Night has nothing to apologize for. It pays the proper respects to the original and capitalizes on the the scenes and strengths that made it great.  I did not miss an absence of boobies in the remake because Silent Night is filled with glorious amounts of T&A (12 years old forever I suppose). As previously stated the kills were inventive. Santa didn't simply hack everyone to pieces with ax. It's not a dirty film. It doesn't make you feel dirty I mean. The original was so filthy and 42nd Street chic. Silent Night conversely is more polished and of course, shot digital instead of glorious 35mm. Again, it's the 21st century.

I hope you were lucky enough to see this in the theater this past week although I was not. I watched a very nice DVD copy that looked brilliant. It's also available on Blu-ray, but I was unable to check that version out. The DVD was short on extra features with some deleted scenes that weren't necessarily worth your time, but folks who enjoyed the picture may find worth the watch. Also, there's some behind the scenes footage that doesn't necessarily shed the light on the back story of the creation of Silent Night as nostalgic horror fans would like, but at least your not left with a walnut and an orange in our stocking. It seems to me that if you're going to make a movie like Silent Night and even call it a remake you better be able to draw a clear line between the creation of the remake and the cult classic original. Best way to do that is a making of feature with sufficient historical back story.

I've raved a little bit about how much I enjoyed the movie overall. I know it's not the most original film. It doesn't have to be. It's just another story about an evil Santa Claus and whether it's a Silent Night, a Deadly Night or a Silent Night, Deadly Night, it's got the bad guy you laugh and love to watch dismember all the deserving assholes in any good horror flick worth its weight in reindeer shit. Make sure you take it in over a glass of egg nog or Insanely Bad Elf beer for full belly laughing potential. Give it as a Christmas gift to that fucker in the office who sits in the cubicle next to you who insists on decorating while you're backed up on paper work. Not for the kiddies (don't be naughty parents). Be good for goodness sake. Go pick this up, but make sure you pick up the original double feature as well. Check out my review of that must own double feature HERE from It Came From 1980x.

You can buy Silent Night on Blu-ray HERE, and you can check out the Anchor  Bay site HERE.

You can pick up the original Silent Night, Deadly Night HERE as a double feature along with the sequel (a laugh riot to be sure).


1 comment:

  1. Steven C. Miller's remake of the nasty 80s original keeps the violence and mayhem but adds both personality and humor with the result being a fun slasher that vastly improves on Silent Night, Deadly Night.