Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

Written by John Chard on April 13, 2015

The Original Bad Santa.

A cult horror classic, Silent Night, Deadly Night is something of a treat for the old school horror faithful. Plot has a young boy witness the slaying of his parents by a man dressed as Santa Claus. He grows up in an orphanage run by an over zealous Mother Superior, moves out when manhood beckons and gets a job in a department store. Come Christmas time he is coerced into being the store Santa and promptly cracks up, grabbing an axe and wreaking slasher hell on everyone who gets in his way.

That's pretty much it, the stalk and slash formula in all its bloody glory. It's done very well here, with invention, genuine shocks and it's all boosted by having the mad Santa as an angelic faced beefcake (Robert Brian Wilson). Of course any new-age horror film fan coming to it for the first time now will struggle to see what the appeal is? So listen to the staccato music, feel the nastiness - the humbug of it all, observe that the film makers don't use filler or padding - they get in for some short sharp shock, and it's deliberately icky to garner a reaction.

Masterpiece of horror cinema? No of course not, the acting is sub-standard, the ending rushed, but in the same year as Wes Craven unleashed one of cinema's ultimate bogeymen upon us, Charles E. Sellier Jr. and his writers offered us a reason to actually hope Santa Claus doesn't exist. 6.5/10