When most horror historians talk about the slasher genre, one film comes to mind as being a catalyst,... Halloween. Many mainstream critics believe that it's the film that started the genre, however, there were others. Halloween isn’t even the first film about the night HE came home. There's no denying that Halloween is a masterpiece. Nobody in their right mind would ever consider it otherwise, but it was not the first. That honor belongs to a little film called Silent Night, Bloody Night.
Silent Night, Bloody Night is one of those films that has been unjustly forgotten, dismissed, or outright attacked. Though it has certain aspects in common with Bob Clark's original Black Christmas, it is also equal parts town with a secret film and European horror sense to supernatural element.
On Christmas Eve in 1950, a man comes running from his home on fire, only to fall on the lawn and burn to death. The house itself was left to his grandson on the condition that it cannot be sold. That's a pretty bunk deal making the grandson an unpaid caretaker of sorts.
Eventually, years later, the grandson decides it's time to sell off the property and be done. He sent a lawyer to take care of business and the townspeople couldn't be happier, as it was demolished. It should be simple enough, but there is an ax wielding maniac and he is out for blood on this Christmas Eve. Why? Let’s just say that the inmates are running the asylum.
The thing that stands out about this film is the fact that not only is it a slasher film, but because of the countless secret elements, it's also a mystery. There are a lot of things going on and you actually do need to pay attention. Strangely enough, there is no nudity in the film, but that doesn't stop it from being erotic in certain moments. The 1970's were just a better time for film once you get past the disco anyway.
Mary Woronov is striking as the female lead. She is kinda the key to the towns history and her role may be confusing at first but reveals itself to be pivotal as secrets are revealed. Megan Fox reminds me of her (she’d remind me of her more if she was a better actress). As I’ve said before, the film is as much a murder mystery as a slasher and in that way, it reminds me of the excellent Murder Mansion.
The rest of the cast is good as well. Everyone, including John Carradine, are appropriately odd, which makes sense as the film moves on.
The film is not overly Christmasy in the least and though it does take place on Christmas Eve, it could have used a better title. Many people pass this film up believing it to be a Silent Night, Deadly Night knock off. Not the case. This film is far superior in every way.
Silent Night, Bloody Night, along with Bob Clark's Black Christmas is a film that you should be watching every year. There's something very smart about it and is by far, a superior film to Silent Night, Deadly Night. There are a lot of films that I review that, unfortunately, are in public domain here in America. This does not make them lesser films, HELL, Night of the Living Dead is in public domain. Not every film I review is going to be great, but it is a film that brings something to the table that you should see, at least once.