The holidays can bring about a bit of stress for some people. They bring a hell of a lot of stress for Billy, who saw his parents brutally murdered by a guy in a Santa suit when he was a kid. That, coupled with years of abuse in an orphanage, and it was only a matter of time before this nut cracked. Now he’s donning the red suit and beard and has taken it upon himself to separate the naughty from the nice.
So this kid Billy has been dealt quite the shitty hand – it’s really no surprise he grows up to become an axe murderer. The movie begins in 1971 and his family is driving up on Christmas Eve to visit his comatose grandpa in the old folks’ home. When no one else is around gramps finally comes back to life long enough to tell Billy that Santa is real and he’s out to punish naughty boys like himself.
That alone would be a little traumatizing. However it gets much worse when on the drive home their car is flagged down by a psycho in a Santa suit who shoots the dad and slits the mom’s throat.
Fast forward to 1974: Billy is sporting a sweet mullet and living in a Catholic orphanage. One day he’s walking down the hall from his room and finds two teenagers scrumping it down – just two random kids getting busy in an orphanage. No, of course it’s not explained – look, there’s a horror story that needs to be told here and the writers don’t have time for silly things like details. Anyways, Mother Superior explains to Billy that what he saw is naughty and that naughty people are punished. Also, Billy was naughty for seeing it so he’s punished too.
Fast forward once again to the present. Billy has blossomed into a strong and handsome young man, working as a stock boy in a toy store. It doesn’t take a genius to see where this is headed. Come December the store is packed with all things Christmas and Billy starts getting those same queasy feelings. Seems like it’d be simple enough to explain that your parents were killed by Santa and ask the boss for the week off. Instead the guy who is supposed to be dressed up as Santa broke his ankle so Billy has to fill in.
Why does no one in this town have anything better to do on Christmas Eve than engage in debauchery? As soon as business hours end, his coworkers start getting hammered in the store and raping each other in the back room. Unfortunately for them and everyone else in town Billy just became the judge of naughty and nice, and he’s doing a lot worse to the naughty than stuffing coal down their stockings.
It’s got to be pretty hard to find a way to harmonize the Christmas and horror movie genres, but Silent Night, Deadly Night pulls it off. The series of events leading up to Billy’s psychotic breakthrough are pretty creepy as well as convincing. No argument here that seeing your parents slashed up by a mall Santa and then growing up in a strict Catholic orphanage would result in a one-way ticket to crazy town. The killings are pretty sweet, including strangulation by Christmas lights and a particularly gruesome scene involving a mounted deer head. If you’re looking for a movie the whole family can enjoy this holiday season then break out the egg nog, fruit cake, and barf bags, and settle into Silent Night, Deadly Night.