Silent Night Deadly Night

Discussion in 'High Def' started by rhett, Oct 1, 2014.

  1. rhett

    rhett Administrator

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    [​IMG]


    [​IMG] Reviewer: Rhett
    Review Date: October 1, 2014

    Format: Blu-ray
    Released by: Anchor Bay
    Release date: September 16, 2014
    MSRP: $21.99
    Region A
    Progressive Scan
    Codec: AVC, 1080p
    Widescreen 1.85 | 16x9: Yes
    2013

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    It might be October, but Anchor Bay is once again in that giving spirit, releasing the infamous Christmas slasher, Silent Night, Deadly Night once more onto a digital format. Previously, it was first a double feature DVD with the “GARBAGE DAY!” sequel in 2003, then a standalone in 2007, then re-released again as a double feature in 2012. The common thread through all this? Always the same transfer. The same disc, even. So now, finally, in 2014, the entire Ira’s Toys crew make the jump to HD with, and I quote, a Bluray “restored from original vault materials.” Does that mean we’ll now be able to spot even more nostalgic Return of the Jedi or Little Tykes toys in the department store shelves? And what about those previously inserted uncut tape dupes…have they found a better source? Naughty or nice, let’s see how Anchor Bay has treated us die hard slasher fans by unwrapping this little present from Charles E. Sellier Jr.

    The Story

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    Silent Night, Deadly Night begins as most slashers do. Normalcy is disturbed when a traumatic death drives one of its onlookers to kill in the future. Except, in Silent Night, Deadly Night, the killer is dressed as Santa, the emblem of holiday cheer. Little Billy, after receiving a bad omen from his seemingly comatose grandfather, witnesses his mother raped and murdered by a man dressed in a Santa suit. The images of sex and violence stay entrenched in his mind, as he forever links the two with the symbol of Jolly old Saint Nick. A mulletted, new Billy is put in a foster home, and continuous mistreatment from the evil Mother Superior (Lilyan Chauvin) further corrupts his morals. As Billy finally ages into adulthood, he views Santa as a man who punishes those who have been naughty…with death!

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    Billy (now played by Robert Brian Wilson) gets a job at Ira’s Toys, where he is an instant hit with the kids and with the manager. In a Mentos-like montage, Billy’s endearing persona and hard work ethic are emphasized, capped off with him denying the temptations of alcohol for the calcium goodness of milk. Thattaboy, Billy! But as Christmas begins to loom, Billy starts to feel the old anxieties quell up again. When he is forced to wear the Santa suit for the kiddies, Billy undergoes a horrific transformation. Intent on punishing those abiding by the slasher conventions of drinking and having sex, Billy unleashes a world of “Punish!” Mother Superior is last on his list, but the police are hot on his trail.

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    Silent Night, Deadly Night just might be the most mean spirited movie ever made. The kind of torture that Billy is subjected to makes I Spit on Your Grave seem comparatively tame. Billy first has the shock and displeasure of witnessing his grandfather come out of coma just to tell him that Santa is going to punish him. That is followed by Billy watching his parents get shot and his mom stripped and raped. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he watches a nun have sex and is subsequently beaten with a belt for it. Not only that, but the ungodly mullet he is given with is a haircut wished on nobody. He is forced to wear a Santa suit, and then witnesses yet another raping just in time for present giving. The movie goes to such great lengths to make Billy a sympathetic character, but damned if it isn’t some of the darkest setup in cinema history. Not only that, but a deaf, old priest in a Santa suit is also shot down in gory glory. Who said Christmas was happy?

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    Yet, despite the inherent mean-spiritedness, the dark tone is offset by a healthy dosage of fromage. Early on, the film establishes a Troll 2 dialectic with the grandpa-grandson relationship, and the results are nearly as cheesy. The grandfather channels a certain Grandpa Seth quality, spouting off overly serious lines that can only be seen by the young protagonist. When Billy grows to age 8, it is impossible not to laugh at how he suddenly gets freckles, a gap in his teeth and a sultry mullet. His line readings are nearly as bad as Joshua’s in Troll 2. The real cheese kicks in though, with each of the older Billy’s murders. Like Freddy Krueger (A Nightmare on Elm Street was oddly released day and date with Silent Night,Deadly Night), Billy utters a one liner with each kill. His verb of choice is “Punish!” although he interchangeably uses “Naughty!” on a regular basis. What makes it all so enjoyable is the seriousness with which Robert Brian Wilson approaches his character. His role is written with a Sandler-esque seriousness, yet he approaches it as if he were Marlon Brando.

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    The last ingredient that makes the film a fine yuletide dish is the gratuitous sleaze. Voyeurs will bask at all the naked on-looking that goes on throughout, as Billy seems to possess a raw talent of seeing every beautiful girl acquaintance naked regardless of location. Nuns, co-workers, his mother and even Linnea Quigley all give a little to the leer of the camera. Quigley’s performance is most notable, marking a stunning screen debut alongside her grave-baring in 1984’s Return of the Living Dead. Her scene in this film, where as her boyfriend points out, Santa isn’t the only one who comes, is one of the hotter bits of slasher screen nudity. This movie loves to watch, and Linnea is more than happy to show.

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    Silent Night, Deadly Night is one of those movies that tries so deliberately to offend, but it succeeds in eliciting a short of shameful enjoyment in the bah humbugging of one of the cheeriest days of the year. It is not exactly the Christmas movie you want to tell your parents about, but it sure is a fun bit of mean-spiritedness while it lasts.

    Image Quality

    inline ImageEleven years ago Anchor Bay was on the cutting edge of preserving genre films that were mostly before sloughed off in low rent, incomplete releases. Anchor Bay though, would present all films in their original aspect ratio and would also go the extra mile re-instating cut footage to present films in their most complete editions. Think back to their releases of the Director’s Cut of Army of Darkness, the TV cut of Halloween, the three different versions of Dawn of the Dead, so on and so forth. Those are high profile releases, but even for smaller ones, they went all out to restore the films. Case in point: Silent Night, Deadly Night. It was released as a cheap little double-bill with the hilarious sequel, yet Anchor Bay still tracked down multiple sources of the film to present it fully uncut. Like with Army of Darkness, the added scenes are of noticeably poorer quality, like a tape dupe of some sort, but there’s quite a bit that’s restored. Many of the kills are longer, with added gore inserts, but there are also a number of extended dialogue scenes or reaction shots from Billy. Even with the lesser quality, those cobbled scenes are a must, and Anchor Bay today still has them in here, and still with a disclaimer at the start of the film about the discrepancy in video quality.

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    The thing is, that disclaimer should be about the image quality of this Blu-ray release as a whole. It may be the 30th anniversary, but there’s not much to celebrate here with the visuals. This looks little more than an upconversion of the same old warts and all DVD release. The flaws of the standard def release are thus magnified here, with a wildly inconsistent presentation. Not even mentioning the soft, contrasty tape footage, the bulk of the visuals here are extremely noisy and lacking in detail, like the original scan was simply blown up rather than rescanned for higher definition. Despite the higher resolution, detail is not improved – you can see this in the first shot of the review looking at the patterns of grandpa’s robe. The lines there block up and lack smoothness or sharpness. Take any of the DVD stills here and blow them up to 1920x1080 and there’s virtually no difference from this Blu-ray transfer. Considering this is a film that’s been re-released a number of times now over the years by Anchor Bay, it’s pretty bah humbug of them to keep handing out this same coal of a transfer.

    inline ImageColoring has been slightly altered to reflect current trends of bringing skin tones a little pinker than in the past (see the Hell of the Living Dead/Rats Blu-ray review). The real work should have been put into re-scanning and updating an 11+ year old transfer, or even better trying to source a better master for all the uncut scenes. Instead, we get a 1920x1080 transfer that has the exact same detail as an old 720x480 transfer. To quote the Santa earlier in the film “Merry fuckin’ Christmas!”

    Sound

    inline ImageThe DVD releases of Silent Night, Deadly Night have had a mono only mix, and the back of this new Blu-ray advertises Dolby TrueHD 5.1. So score, right? Wrong. Like with the video, this is advertised as a new track, but it’s virtually the same old track we’ve heard since 2003. This one doesn’t even TRY to be a 5.1 track – zero channel separation, everything is relegated entirely to the center channel and the added bitrate does nothing to improve the flatness of a 30 year old mono mix. Composer Perry Botkin’s intentionally off-key cacophony of piano and bells comes through as shrill and lacking any sort of fidelity. Dialogue at times is overpowered by the music and sounds muffled. To my ear it somehow sounded WORSE than the original DVD. Like the audio interview included as an extra on this release…they phoned this one in.

    Supplemental Material

    inline ImageAnchor Bay may not have done much (anything) to update the audio and video, but they did round up a bunch of the crew to create an all-new commentary. Writer Michael Hickey, Composer Perry Botkin, Editor & 2nd Unit Director Michael Spence and Co-Executive Producer Scott J. Schneid all come together thirty years later to talk about the movie that made them fam--err, well, one movie.

    inline ImageThey don’t know much about the genre; one erroneously thinks this is the first killer Santa movie, and then someone corrects him saying “no, there was previously killer Santa in a Tales from the Darkside.” Doh! While all the commentators are in the same room together, the track is often very stilted with many gaps and pauses. There is still some good information here, like when the writer talks about how he optioned a “terrible” script just so he could use the killer Santa idea, and despite not using anything from the original script, Paul Caimi still got a “Story by” credit. Otherwise, there’s not a ton of new information, and mostly the commentators relegate themselves to congratulating themselves for their work here. You could make a drinking game out of how many times they say “nice score!”

    Small nitpick – why is it that on almost all Blu-rays now, whenever there’s a commentary it’s accessible only in the setup or audio menu rather than in the extras menu? On the back of the box it’s advertised as a “Special Feature”, but then you head to that menu and it’s not there. Silly, really.

    All the remaining extras have been carried over from previous DVD releases. First, there’s a 35-minute phone interview with director Charles E. Sellier, Jr. and he is pretty talkative regarding production, his involvement with Grizzly Adams(!) and the need for filmmakers today to be more responsible than he was when he made Silent Night, Deadly Night. His slight drawl and roundabout way of discourse is both personable and at times boring, as he seems to extend everything much longer than it need be. Still, he remembers quite a bit from the production, and his stance on moral and responsible filmmaking is admirable, seeing as most people would decline altogether to discuss a film with as much controversy as this.

    inline ImageAnchor Bay fleshes out the controversy with a few galleries, and they’ve both been re-done for HD on this Blu-ray. Content-wise, though, it’s the same. The first is a very engaging “Santa’s Stocking of Outrage”, which features complaints from newspapers, petitioners and even Mickey Rooney on why the film deserved to be banned. Unfortunately there were no comments by Siskel or Ebert, despite their anti-slasher campaigning on their Sneak Peeks show. Still, it gives a good historical context to all the outrage that the film had to endure. The poster and still gallery further exploits the controversy, as many of the posters make mention of the film being what everyone didn’t want the viewer to see. If the film succeeded at anything, it was definitely marketing.

    Final Thoughts

    “Do you know what Santa does to naughty little girls? He punishes them. Severely.”

    inline ImageThere’s no doubt that Silent Night, Deadly Night is a sleazy, cheesy schlocker that’s more than deserving of its cult reputation. Despite its enduring popularity though, it still hasn’t received any kind of release that could by any means be called definitive. While Anchor Bay’s stitched together uncut DVD back in 2003 was a nice start, they’ve done little over the years to improve upon this popular anti-Christmas flick, and this year might be the biggest lump of coal of all. Despite being advertised as a 30th Anniversary Edition, there’s little to celebrate here. The image quality is essentially a blowup of the DVD, with zero added detail. The sound is similarly the same flat mono track it always has been, even though it’s advertised as a 5.1 track. There’s one new extra, but it’s as disinterested as the rest of the work on this release. If you’ve already got this on DVD (and why the hell wouldn’t you!?) then there’s no need to upgrade. If you’re looking to get the film for the first time, it’s a much better deal to buy the double feature DVD, since the transfer is identical and you get another fun sequel for close to half the price of this half-hearted cash grab. Such a missed opportunity, again, from Anchor Bay. Naughty!

    Rating

    [​IMG] Movie - B+

    Image Quality - D

    Sound - D

    Supplements - C+

    Technical Info.
    • Color
    • Running time - 1 hour 25 minutes
    • Not Rated
    • 1 Disc
    • Chapter Stops
    • English Mono
    Supplements
    • Audio commentary with Writer Michael Hickey, Composer Perry Botkin, Editor/2nd Unit Director Michael Spence and Co-Executive Producer Scott J. Schneid
    • Audio interview with director Charles E. Sellier, Jr.
    • Santa's Stocking of Outrage
    • Still and poster gallery
    Other Pictures

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    Last edited: Sep 7, 2015
  2. Jack_Burton

    Jack_Burton New Member

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    Thanks for the review. I have the double feature release so will pass on this. Too bad Anchor Bay didn't put much effort into this one.
     
  3. rxfiend

    rxfiend Joe Six-Pack

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    Was really looking forward to this one as well. Come on AB!
     
  4. DVD-fanatic-9

    DVD-fanatic-9 And the Next Morning, When the Campers Woke Up...

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    "altered slightly altered"???

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Zillamon51

    Zillamon51 Member

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    I actually had this pre-ordered from Amazon, but canceled when I heard how lackluster the presentation is. Compared to the DVD, this loses the double feature, and gains nothing from HD? Can't justify spending money on that. Maybe if it shows up in the Wal-Mart $7.88 dump bin.
     
  6. Katatonia

    Katatonia Hellbound Heart

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    PUNISH Anchor Bay!
     
  7. rhett

    rhett Administrator

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    Thanks, fanatic. Fixed.
     
  8. startide

    startide Member

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    But that hairy bum is so delicious!! Why would you not want to see that in 1080p?

    Seriously though, I've never seen a great fan of this film but my god those screen caps look awful. The one of the pool table sex scene is particularly telling.
     
  9. chancetx

    chancetx Active Member

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    Thanks for the review. Disappointing that the Blu isn't worth the upgrade - too bad I already bought a copy. But I was going to hang on to my double feature DVD for part 2 anyway so maybe I can trade the Blu.
     
  10. shithead

    shithead Death By Ejaculation

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    Such bullshit...

    This movie deserves more.
     
  11. streetlight

    streetlight Member

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    I'd like to hear the commentary, hope i can download a copy
     

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