(Photo from creepysantaphotos.com)
I happen to be one of those folks whom the holiday season kicks in the nuts every year. Every November through January is a dark, dreary ride through winter hell. Traffic, incessant holiday music, suffocating crowds, pressure to give that perfect gift, pressure to pretend to be happy…it’s enough to drive one batty. Winter Pacific Northwest weather doesn’t help either. I find myself more depressed than usual. Maybe George Bailey had the right idea.
Fortunately, there are some great Christmas movies out there that you may not have heard of to spread the holiday cheer. I got a few of them and last night got my egg nog on to watch a couple:
Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
This lovely, heart-warming film is about a kid named Billy who witnessed the murders of his parents by the hands of a ruthless robber dressed as Santa Claus. Now parentless, little Billy Caldwell and his baby brother are taken in at an orphanage run by nuns, the mother superior of which is a sadistic hag who deals with Billy’s fear of Santa with harsh methods. Billy grows up to be a strong, handsome young man and with the help of the friendly Sister Margaret, Billy gets his first job working at a toy store. Despite an asshole supervisor, Billy is well-liked by the boss, a hard worker and even has his eye on a pretty co-worker named Pamela. However, when Christmas time rolls around and the normal store Santa is out for the whole season due to a broken ankle, Billy’s boss asks him to fill in as Santa Claus. Billy, still traumatized by Santa Claus, snaps when he puts on the suit, intent on punishing the naughty. “Ho-ho-ho” becomes “ho-ho-homicide” as Billy bellows “NAUGHTY!” while cutting down people with an axe or, in one case, interrupting a heavy teenage petting session by impaling a girl on some antlers and throwing her boyfriend out the window.
This film caused quite a stir in the ’80s when angry moms protested against the portrayal of a Santa-clad killer, but really, as far as gore and violence is concerned, Silent Night, Deadly Night is not that extreme. There is the requisite amount of gore and gratuitous nudity, but what really makes the movie classic is the over-the-top presentation. You’d almost think this was a parody or something and not a slasher-horror flick. The whole thing is very funny and I have to imagine that despite the fact it’s not intended as a parody the director must have had tongue placed firmly in cheek when making this movie. Silent Night, Deadly Night is a lot of “NAUGHTY!” fun.
Silent Night, Deadly Night: Part 2 (1987)
This time around, Billy’s little brother Ricky has a go as a psychotic Santa. The movie begins with Ricky in a mental hospital, interviewed by the psychiatrist, where, for the next forty minutes, Ricky recalls events occurring in the first movie utilizing a ridiculous amount of footage from that film. In fact, the first forty minutes of Silent Night, Deadly Night: Part 2 is basically the Reader’s Digest condensed version of the first film.
Nevertheless, it’s a pretty good set up for things to come since Ricky, played by Eric Freeman, narrates the flashbacks with an over-the-top, exaggerated evilness. It’s not convincing but it’s sure as hell funny. In fact, you may be familiar with the “Garbage Day” internet meme? I wasn’t until I researched this film a bit. Anyway, it comes from this movie, where Ricky blows away a guy taking out his garbage with a revolver, taunting “Garbage day!”
Interestingly, Eric Freeman, after a few minor TV roles, never made another appearance and was “off the grid” for many years, leading internet film buffs to speculate on his whereabouts. That mystery may be solved now since he showed up at a film screening of Silent Night, Deadly Night: Part 2 just a few days ago, as the website Finding Freeman informs us.
He looks like he’s aged well and appears to be happy and healthy. This is good because when I hear “missing” all sorts of sordid things run through my head.
Anyway, Silent Night, Deadly Night: Part 2 is some great, campy fun and if you just bear through the first forty minutes the last half more than makes up for it.
I have a couple of other films lined up that I haven’t got to yet: Silent Night (2012), the remake of Silent Night, Deadly Night
Black Christmas (1974), also known as Silent Night, Evil Night and Stranger In The House.
They seem like they will be full of cheer and merriment!
So if you’ve got the holiday blues and you’re sick of the standard Christmas movie fare, give these a try! Actually, It’s A Wonderful Life is probably one of my top ten favorite all time films, along with The Sound of Music and Apocalypse Now, but, quite frankly, I’m getting kind of sick of watching it every Christmas. Besides, hasn’t Santa ever seemed kind of creepy to you? “He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake…” *shiver*
Lock the doors, turn out the lights, get some milk, cookies and egg nog and hope (pray) that you’ve been good all year while you enjoy these heartwarming holiday films on Christmas Eve.