I can't think of a better way to welcome December and the Christmas Season than with a sleigh full of Psycho Santa horror movies. First on the list and most notorious of all is the 1984 slasher film "Silent Night, Deadly Night". This movie enraged parents and critics alike. Parents picketed theatres who showed it and even now it's hard to find since the DVD has been out of print. With the success of the "Halloween" movies, every holiday was open season for a horror movie. Should Christmas and Santa Clause be off limits? Of course not, as I'm sure most of the protesters never saw the movie to begin with. Even now can this movie really be that bad for you?
This is the story of a boy named Billy. On Christmas Eve he and his family visit their comatose grandpa in a mental hospital. Then on the way home, they stop along the road for a guy dressed in a Santa suit who is having car trouble. This is the same Santa who earlier robbed a convenience store and shot the clerk. Billy's parents are then brutally murdered, but Billy and his baby brother escape and are eventually placed in an orphanage. Over the years Billy not only has to deal with the repressed psychological trauma of what happened that night but the strict and stern punishments of the Mother Superior at the orphanage. We flash forward ten years. Sister Margaret helps Billy get a job at a local toy store and as soon as he seems to become normal and happy again, Christmas time comes around. When the store's Santa can't come in, Billy is forced put on the suit. Meeting his greatest fear head on really does not go well, not at all. During a drunken Christmas party at the store, Billy finally snaps and goes on a brutal and bloody killing spree dressed as ole' Saint Nick.
Compared to many other horror films the story is actually quite good, and what happens is really quite believable. It could also be why this movie is so effective. The kills are pretty sweet from a horror perspective and the effects are decent. Since this is an 80s slasher movie there is the requisite bunch of gratuitous sex and nudity. All of which Billy punishes for being naughty. What is most disturbing about this movie is when Billy dressed as Santa comes in contact with little kids. After killing a babysitter and her boyfriend, he gives a little girl a box cutter he used to kill a previous victim. It is also believed that Billy will return to the orphanage to get revenge on Mother Superior. When a Santa appears at the orphanage a police officer open fires and kills him right in front of all the children. This turns out to be the wrong guy (oops!). The officer just killed a priest (double oops!!). The ending is a little anti-climactic and it does setup it up for a bunch of inferior sequels. If you can find it, it's definitely worth a viewing. PUNISH!