Plot: What’s it about?
When he was just a child, Billy Chapman (Robert Brian Wilson) went through the most traumatic experience possible. He saw his own parents murdered before his own eyes, as a man raped his mother, then slayed both of his parents. As if that wasn’t enough, this happened during the Christmas season and the murderer was dressed in a Santa Claus costume. Of course, this scarred him for life and slanted his mind away from the holidays, which were nothing but reminders of the tragic and brutal past. Then he is placed in an orphanage, where he should have been nurtured, but instead, his suffering was just extended. The nuns abuse Billy and his mind is warped even more, so he is quite unstable. When he is forced to dress up as Santa for his new job, will his mind be able to stand the pressure? In the sequel, Billy’s younger brother Ricky (Eric Freeman) is tormented by the awful fate of his older brother. He also suffered however, which lead to him being placed in a mental institution for some time. Now he has been turned loose however, though his mind is not only not healed, but more twisted than ever. His newfound freedom allows him to seek out vengeance, as he wants to settle the score with those vicious nuns. But will he be able to get some revenge, or will he be stopped before he can get even?
This release is a real score for horror fans, as the holiday slasher Silent Night, Deadly Night finally arrives on DVD. This is one of those movies that sparked outrage with parents and moral folks, which only served to increase interest in the picture. The sequel train rolled out of the station soon and often, but none were on the same level. In fact, the second film in the series isn’t half the movie the original is, or maybe I mean it is half the original film. That is because half the flick takes place in flashbacks, so footage from the original Silent Night, Deadly Night is used and of course, that means less new material is present. I liked the sequel once things started to roll, but there is simply too much reused material to offer too much praise. The original is the real season to pick up this release though, so just think of the sequel as added value. In this release, the film is presented in uncut fashion and that means all the gore is present. Not that much more, but a few minutes of extended death scenes and the like, so some good stuff is to be seen. Silent Night, Deadly Night is just a good old school slasher flick, the kind we just don’t see anymore. And as a freebie, the sequel makes for a decent watch itself. So even if you’re a casual horror fan, this is one release your collection won’t be complete without, so don’t miss this one. The treatment for both films is superb also, so this release is more than recommended.
Video: How does it look?
Silent Night, Deadly Night is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, which is the same treatment given to the sequel. The original film looks quite good, but some of the deleted scenes were taken from rather poor elements. This results in more grain and a softer texture, but only in those scenes that were inserted back into the picture. In most sequences, the print looks solid and shows no serious troubles. The elements are still a little worn, but colors appear consistent and contrast is more than acceptable. As the sequel uses a lot of material from the first film, it looks about the same and means a tad soft, but still good. The new stuff looks even better, since it is newer and by turn, a little more refined. In the end, don’t expect too much from these transfers, but the movies look good enough to satisfy most folks.
Audio: How does it sound?
A mono soundtrack is provided for each of the movies, both of which have a solid, if not that memorable sound. As with the video elements, time has taken a toll on the audio materials, but that could also be related to the low budget productions. You can’t make something from nothing after all, so perhaps even with new surround mixes, the audio still wouldn’t be that remarkable. The dialogue is clean and never hard to understand however, while music is crisp and never overpowers the other elements. In other words, no need to adjust the volume throughout this one, as it all stays in proper order at all times. The sound effects have good presence, as far as mono allows, but keep your expectations within reason.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The original film has a commentary track with director Charles E. Sellier, Jr., while the second movie has a session with director Lee Harry, writer Joseph H. Earle, and actor James Newman. I listened to both tracks and was pleased on both counts, as the tracks are informative and even offer some humorous moments. Sellier’s session is more serious, but has more real insight, while the group track on the second film has a much lighter tone. The three men know they made a bad movie, but don’t mind telling us all about how it was made. This release also includes a selection poster artwork and still photos for each picture, a collection of letters from people who were outraged by the original, and the sequel’s theatrical trailer.