• Silent Night, Deadly Night



    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: December 5th, 2017.
    Director: Charles E. Sellier Jr.
    Cast: Linnea Quigley, Robert Brian Wilson, Toni Nero, Gilmer McCormick, Lilyan Chauvin, H.E.D. Redford
    Year: 1984
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    The Movie:

    Silent Night, Deadly Night received a genuinely lousy Blu-ray release through Anchor Bay a couple of years ago. Now it lives again, thankfully, as a proper special edition release from Shout! Factory.

    For those who haven’t seen the picture, it begins when a young man named Billy Chapman witnesses the brutal murders of his mother and father by a maniac dressed in a Santa Claus costume. Billy and his baby brother Ricky, now orphaned, are sent off to be raised in a convent called St. Mary’s where the nuns rule the roost with an iron fist. This place is led by a particularly nasty Mother Superior (Lilyan Chauvin) – a genuinely cruel woman who does Billy no favors. As Billy grows older, it becomes pretty obvious that his emotional scars run deep. He’s understandably got a deep-rooted fear of Santa Claus that stems back to his childhood. But there’s more - thanks to the strict Catholic upbringing he experienced with the nuns who raised him, he’s also got a freakishly puritanical view of sex, an act that he sees as horrible and for which those who partake in it should be brutally punished.

    When Billy (Robert Brian Wilson) turns eighteen and leaves the orphanage for good, he gets a job at a nearby toy store. All seems to be going fairly well until Christmas comes around and, when the regular store Santa calls in sick, Billy is asked to fill in. Amazingly enough, Billy makes it through the work day and even heads out to the employee Christmas party where an unexpected surprise sets Billy off. He puts on his Santa suit and decides to punish everyone he deems naughty… and we’ll leave it at that.

    The picture has a pretty decent back story to it. The story spends enough time establishing Billy’s various psychological issues that we completely expect him to snap, maybe even before he eventually does. What he does comes as no surprise at all, but how he does it can often times be pretty creative. Actor Robert Brian Wilson, who would go on to a fairly mediocre television career after this film’s success, plays the role with enough intensity and believability that he makes for a pretty compelling character.

    Silent Night, Deadly Night is a pretty decent film but it’s nothing so brutal that it really should have caused as much controversy as it did. Much of the hubbub probably came from the fact that the killings are done by a crazy guy in a Santa Claus suit and there’s something to be said for that. Seeing what is essentially a beloved kids’ icon going nuts the way Billy does here is a bit unsettling. Really though, as decent as this movie is, there are much nastier slashers out there. To the film’s credit, however, Silent Night, Deadly Night is a pretty fun ride. There are some great kill scenes here, some welcome nudity and a cool appearance from the eighties definitive scream queen, Linnea Quigley which all add to the fun. The picture’s darkly comedic tone hits all the right nots. It is sufficiently gory (particularly in its uncut format – more on that later) and genuinely entertaining. Director Sellier keeps the movie clicking along at a good pace, building things up nicely until the inevitable happens and while the conclusion is a little predictable, it’s still a gory good time getting there.

    Shout Factory presents Silent Night, Deadly Night in two versions – one disc one we get the film’s R-rated cut and one disc two, the unrated version of the picture. There’s roughly three minutes of extensions to the uncut version, almost all of which is related to the murder set pieces.

    Video/Video/Extras:

    Each version of the film is presented on its own Blu-ray disc and presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition framed at 1.85.1 widescreen. The theatrical version, which takes up 20GBs of space on a 25GB disc, is transferred from a new 4k scan of the original 35mm camera negative and it looks excellent. There’s a bit of minor print damage here and there and the opening credits look a bit grubbier than the rest of the movie but once we get past that things shape up quite nicely. Colors look very good here, there’s no artificial boosting of the reds, while black levels are strong. Darker scenes show no obvious crush or compression artifacts and skin tones look nice and lifelike, never too hot or too pink. Although some compression artifacts pop up in a few spots, there’s a lot more detail and texture here when compared to previous editions, not just in close up shots but in pretty much every shot. Medium and long-distance shots show off the Utah location photography rather nicely, allowing us to appreciate some of the scenery that makes up the backdrop for the movie. Clarity is just stronger here in every way.

    The unrated version of the film uses the same 4k scan as its basis, but due to the fact that the original elements containing the uncut footage appear to be lost, standard definition inserts are used. Shout has done a reasonably good job matching them to the restored footage, but they still stand out when they appear as they just can’t possibly look as good. You can get a feel for the difference in quality by checking out the screen caps below. This version takes up almost 24GBs GBs of space on a 50GB disc.

    Those who want the best possible video quality will opt for the theatrical version, while those who want the strongest cut of the film have got the less than perfect unrated option.

    Both cuts of the film get the DTS-HD 2.0 Mono treatment. Optional subtitles are provided in English only. There are no issues with the sound here at all. Dialogue is clean, the levels are properly balanced and the score sounds good. No noticeable issues with any hiss or distortion were detected during playback, and there’s decent range for a single channel mix. The music in the film in particular gets a nice boost here, it’s stronger and has better presence without sounding artificially pumped up or boosted.

    Extras are spread across the two discs in this set as follows:

    Disc One:

    In addition to the theatrical cut of the movie we get an R-rated theatrical trailer for the feature, a VHS promo trailer, ninety seconds of TV spots, a half minute of radio spots, menus and chapter selection.

    Disc Two:

    First up, on the stacked second disc, is an all new audio commentary featuring actor Robert Brian Wilson and co-executive producer Scott J. Schneid. This is a pretty interesting track as Wilson gets to say his piece about how he landed the part, what it was like working on the picture, his thoughts on his character and on the film itself and quite a bit more. Schneid is there to fill in the blanks and talk up the film’s origins and success, working with director Sellier, the contributions of the other cast and crew members, the Utah locations and quite a bit more. A second audio commentary is also included here, this one featuring writer Michael Hickey, composer Perry Botkin, editor/2nd unit director Michael Spence and co-executive producer Scott J. Schneid. This track, carried over from past releases, opens with some discussion of Botkin’s work on the score and then goes on to become a fairly scene specific look back at the making of the picture. It covers some of the same ground as the first track but Shout did right by including it here for posterity’s sake.

    Also included on the disc is an extended audio interview with director Charles E. Sellier, Jr. from Deadpit Radio. The version included on the previous Anchor Bay release ran thirty-six minutes, this version clocks in at over fifty-eight minutes so there’s a fair bit more here than was originally provided to fans. It’s a good interview and given that the director passed away in 2011, the only contribution from him included here. He talks about how the project came about, setting up and shooting various scenes, who he enjoyed working with on the film and more.

    The best of the new extras on the disc, however, is Slay Bells Ring: The Story Of Silent Night, Deadly Night. This forty-six minute long featurette is basically made up of new interviews with Hickey, Schneid, Botkin, Wilson and Spence as well as co-executive producer Dennis Whitehead. This is really well done – nicely edited and well put together. Lots of great stories here too, such as how locations were secured, how the script evolved, getting the movie to Tri-Star, it’s theatrical release and loads more. Yes, it does cover some of the same ground as the two commentary tracks but it’s interesting to get to see these guys as well as hear them, and the interviewees are generally pretty blunt about things, which means that this can often times be as humorous as it is interesting.

    Also worth checking out is Oh Deer!, an all new interview with Linnea Quigley in which the actress discusses her infamous scene in the film for twenty-two minutes. She also talks about how she got her start in the film business, her modelling career, a weird encounter with none other than Jack Palance, and then, of course, the specifics of her involvement in SNDN and the iconic scene in which she starred.

    Rounding out the extras on disc two is Christmas In July: Silent Night, Deadly Night Locations – Then And Now, which is, as it sounds, a featurette that shows off many of the more iconic locations from the film (the orphanage, the church, the toy store and more) as they appear in the film compared to how they appear now in the modern day. Rounding out the extras on the second disc is an extensive poster and still gallery and Santa’s Stocking Of Outrage (essentially a selection of quotes from those who were outraged and/or offended by the film when it originally played back in the eighties) alongside animated menus and chapter selection.

    As far as the packaging goes – Shout! Factory has included some nice reversible cover art and a slipcase to be included with the first pressing of the disc, and if you guy off of their site you have the option to also purchase a pretty awesome Billy action figure!

    The Final Word:

    One of the most enjoyable holiday themed slasher films of all time, Silent Night, Deadly Night finally gets the proper special edition release that it deserves. Compared to past editions, this is a big upgrade not just in terms of the extras but – just as importantly – in terms of the presentation as well. Highly recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!



















































    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Maureen Champ's Avatar
      Maureen Champ -
      Seven o'clock... it's over! Time to get shit-faced!'
      That line from SNDN is billiant!
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