Silent Night Deadly Night 1 & 2 Limited - Silent Night Deadly Night 1 & 2 (Blu Ray boxset) [101 Films - 2020]Now hereís a most welcome deluxe/ extras packed Blu Ray release of mid-í80s seasonally slasher classic Silent Night, Deadly Night & itís 1987 sequel. The boxset appears on UKís 101 films, and as weíve come to expect from the label we get nicely crisp scans of each film, and a bloody sleigh full of extrasÖ.though these are the same as those found on the Scream Factory releases of the films from a few years back.
The three-disc Blu Ray set is presented in a rigid red, black, and white slipcase which takes in a image of the films Santa suited killer holding an axe. We get two-disc for the first film- one disc taking in a 4k scan of the theatrical cut of the film, and the second a 4k scan of the uncut version of the film, and a good selection of extras. With the third disc taking in a 2k scan of the sequel and a good selection of extras relating to the second film. The set topped off with a booklet taking new articles & interviews relating to both films. At the time of writing this set is out-of-print with the label, which shows how much want/need there was for a decent edition of these films- but Iíd imagine if you hunt around you may still be able to score a copy of the set.
Appearing November 1984 right in time for the festive season Silent Night, Deadly Night was a US production. It was directed by Charles E. Sellier Jr.- who was more known as a producer with sixty-nine credits to his name between the 1970s and the early 2000s. Silent Night, Deadly Night was one of four films directed by Sellier- the others been 70ís disaster doc Encounter with Disaster, 80ís Ski resort set comedy Snowballing, and mid 80ís Viet-spoliation/ revenge movie The Annihilators. Silent Night, Deadly Night is well shot, often rapidly-paced & tight slasher film- with a great blend of seasonally themed kills, female flesh sleaze, and more than a few tense moments.
The film kicks-off by showing us the back story of the film's killer- which is fairly unusual for a slasher film, but itís very well done & at times decidedly creepy/ unsettling. We start with young Bill( maybe around 8), his baby brother, and his two parents going to see the families grandfather whose in a mental asylum. The seemingly entranced/ silent bearded grandfather, is left with young Bill for a moment - fairly gramps start ranting & raving at Bill saying that Santa punishes naughty girls & boys, but when the rest of the family returns he's back to still silence once more. On their way back home the family encounters a Santa who has broken down- they try to help- he pulls a gun, attacks and kills the family with Bill hiding by the Road so he canít be caught. Flash forward a few years & Bill, and his brother are now in a children's home run by the bitchy & discipline loving Mother Superior-played by respected French- American actress Lilyan Chauvin. At the home Billy's trauma continues- with him drawing bloody pictures of Santa, watching fornicating young nuns, and punching Santa who Mother Superior forces him to sit on his knee. Bill seemingly has only one person looking out for him- twenty-something nun Sister Margaret(Gilmer McCormick). The years tick by, and Bill reaches eighteen- sister Margaret goes to a local toy shop to find the young man work- heís taken on, at first seemingly doing well- then Christmas looms and he starts to get twitchy once more, then heís asked to play SantaÖand from here things go very brutally & bloodily wrong.
The film retains a good pace throughout, with both the theatrical (122 mins) and uncut version(124) remain tight & tense. Along the way we get a fairly bit of female flesh, and of well-executed seasonal themed kills- we get Christmas light hangings, Stanley knife stomach slashings, axe in the head, skewed by wall mounted stag, head lopped off while sledging, and more. Each actor playing Bill through the years is well enough picked, with the eighteen-year-old Bill been played by Robert Brian Wilson- who nicely mangers the switch between caring-if-troubled young man & deranged Santa suit-wearing madman. On the whole Silent Night, Deadly Night stands as one of the great seasonal slashers- with a good build-up/ back story, good selection of memorable victims/ kills, and some great tense & taut moments- and it still packs a bloody fairy light wrapped punch today.
Moving onto this new release, and on the first disc we get the theatrical cut and on the second disc the unrated version- both of these get 4K scans, and largely look great aside from on the second version when the cut elements come in, and then the stock quilty does change/ vary. We get two commentary tracks- one is with actor Robert Brian Wilson and co-executive producer Scott J. Schneid, and the other is with story writer Michael Hickey, soundtrack compose Perry Botkin, the co-executive producer
Scott J. Schneid and film editor Michael Spence. Over the two tracks really everything you could hope to be is covered- with first-time actor Wilson talking about how he got into acting, getting(paid) acting lessons from Lilyan Chauvin, and on-screen memories, then outlining
how the film came about & how it developed. Then the other tracks speakers touching down on all the other sides of filming, production & scoring- though of course we do get replicated info on some portions of the tracks.
Next, we get Slay Bells Ring: The Story of Silent Night, Deadly Night this runs around forty-five minutes- and features interviews with writer Michael Hickey, co-executive producers Scott J. Schneid and Dennis Whitehead, editor/second unit director Michael Spence, composer Perry Botkin and actor Robert Brian Wilson- as youíd imagine this goes from talking about the orgins of the film & the short story/ script that influenced, moving onto discuss the films production, the controversy that surrounded it, and the film's legacy- all in a most interesting featurette. Next, we get an around twenty-minute questions & answers featurette with scream queen Linnea Quigley, who turned up as one of the killer's victim s in the film. Thereís a ten-minute revisiting of the film's location and four minutes of
original press reviews.
On the third disc, we get Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 - this appeared in 1987, and it was directed by Edward Lee- who had one other feature-length credit to his name as director, and this was 1991ís Street Soldiers- which is seen as a rather lacklustre Ku Fu take on Westside Story- heís more known for his work as an editor, which is rather fitting for the film to hand- as thereís a fair chunk of the first film edited in here. The film focuses in on Ricky( Eric Freeman), brother of killer Bill from the first film, heís all grown-up now, and is in a secure psychiatric unit. The film opens with him chain-smoking, while a twitchy orderly sets up a reel-to-reel tape recorder. Fairly soon into the room comes Dr Henry Bloom(James Newman)- a stern & seemingly tough psychiatrist, which we later find out is the 13th doctor who has tried to figure out Ricky. The first forty minutes or so of the film are basically large chunks of the first film, with briefly darting back to the interview room ever so often. After this point, we get more chat about what happened after the home closed down, and the growing-up of & development of Ricky as he becomes a killer. As we move onto the latter part of the film we get a few neat killings- like an umbrella stuck through someone then opened, a head linked up to a car battery with the eyes bloody popping, and a neat tumbling off head kill. Freeman is good enough as the gleeful & manic killer, Newman is effective-if a little hammy- the supporting cast & younger versions of Ricky are ok. The issue here is, of course, the big, big chunk of the first film stuck on the front- which does pull the whole thing down somewhat. Also, Iím not sure if youíd call this a true/ pure slasher film, Iíd say itís more of a psychodrama with moments of campiness, and some slasher like kills. Re-watching the film for the first time in around ten years, itís certainly better than I recall- but itís far from being a good sequel or a great slasher film.
Extras wise on this disc we once again get two commentary tracks- the first is with Director Lee Harry, and actors Eric Freeman and James Newman. It sees them discussing how the Harry came to direct the film, and how Freeman & Newman got their parts. Moving onto find Freeman discussing how he became aware of the films popularity online a few years back, which led him to do quite a few horror conventions. They discuss the re-cutting of the original film elements, the new footage & on-screen action/ observations- all in all, an interesting track. The second track is co-writer/director Lee Harry, co-writer Joseph H. Earle, and actor James Newman- I didnít get round to playing this one. Next, we get Slay Bells Ring Again: The Story of Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 Ė this is a making-of doc and runs for an impressive one hour & fourteen minutes. It starts with Lee Harry talking about how he got into film making, moving onto talk about his involvement with the film, which started off life as just purely recut footage of the first film. As the doc goes on we get a good selection of interviews with the films cast, look at the storyboards, and much more- again a very thorough doc. Next, we get I Donít sleep- this is a just over an hour interview with the films makeup effects artist Christopher Biggs, and this sees him covering his whole career, as well of course focus on the film to hand. We nineteen-minute revisiting to the film's locations, Ricky today- a seven-minute interview with Freeman playing the Ricky role today.
In finishing itís great to see these two films getting a classy & deluxe reissue from 101 films, and really if youíre a slasher fan youíll be needing to get this set in your collection. As I mentioned early on itís sadly sold out with the label at present, but a quick scan of the net still shows copies available at a few retailers.Roger Batty