Movie Battle: Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) vs. Silent Night (2012)
It’s almost Christmas! Pull out the stockings, hang up the mistletoe, and grab your favorite Christmas-themed horror movies! While traditionally a time for big blockbusters and sentimental classics, horror fans have plenty of entertaining fare to enjoy during the holidays.
I’m filled with Christmas spirit but also in the mood for an “original vs. remake” battle so let’s look at Silent Night, Deadly Night and its “loose remake,” Silent Night.
One of the most well-known Christmas horror movies ever is Silent Night, Deadly Night. While not without its charms, the movie has received a cult following due more to the controversy it spawned before and after its release than for its quality. The plot of the movie follows a rather standard 80’s slasher outline: Bad stuff happens to person, person loses mind, said person then goes on killing spree. In this case, young Billy witnesses his parents being killed by a criminal in a Santa suit. This, understandably, pretty much ruins Christmas for life for the kid. Poor Billy winds up in an orphanage run by the nasty Mother Superior with his little brother, and she just loves to punish the kids for just about anything. Flash forward ten years later, and Billy is working at a toy store. (See where this is going yet?) Forced to dress as Santa for the store on Christmas, Billy witnesses his co-worker and crush Pamela being molested by another co-worker. This sets Billy off, and he goes on a Christmas slash-a-thon still dressed in his Santa outfit, uttering his catchphrase “punish” during each kill.
Silent Night, Deadly Night is pretty mean-spirited, but also pretty entertaining. Still, it came out when the slasher craze was winding down, and truthfully it’s not a really great movie. It has some decent death scenes and is probably most known for the infamous “antler scene,” in which horror queen Linnea Quigley is impaled on a set of deer antlers. However, I personally prefer the earlier Christmas slasher Christmas Evil, which has a similar storyline but is a bit more fascinating and well done than Silent Night, Deadly Night.
When Silent Night, Deadly Night was released, it was extremely controversial. Parents groups protested in droves, mostly concerned with the advertising for the film, which emphasized the movie’s killer being dressed as Santa Claus. Critics also bashed the movie to death. Famous slasher-haters Siskel and Ebert denounced the flick, going so far as to read the names of the film’s production crew on the air and telling them “shame on you.” Because of the controversy, the movie was pulled from theaters just six days after its release. Despite the controversy, the movie has gained a cult following and is considered required viewing for horror fans this time of year.
Silent Night, Deadly Night was popular enough to warrant a remake, even after the remake craze of the 2000’s had tapered off. Loosely remaking the original film while adding some different plot points, Silent Night was released in 2012. Similar to the original, a crazed maniac dressed as Santa is killing off citizens of a small town that he has deemed “naughty.” The always game Malcolm McDowell, fresh off his turn as Dr. Loomis in Rob Zombie’s Halloween flicks, plays the town sheriff. When one of his officers winds up the victim of our killer Claus, he calls in Officer Bradimore, played by Jaime King. Together they take the investigation on as the killer takes out more citizens in gory fashion.
We all know that, in most cases, the original movie is better than the remake. Of course, there are exceptions, and this is one case that I think breaks the standard rule. Silent Night takes the basic idea of the original and does it even better. What makes the remake work is its ability to balance horror and comedy very well. While the original just feels sad and mean, the remake blends goofiness and gore, which is one of the hardest things to accomplish in a horror movie. The kills are also top-notch with an unbelievable face bisection via axe which is one of the most underrated gore scenes of the past several years. This movie also had the balls to kill off a bratty young girl!
Of course, it includes its own version of the classic antler impalement scene as a nod to the original. It may be a little unfair to compare these two movies as the remake obviously had a better budget and the benefit of better actors, but for me, the remake is just more entertaining.
What do you think? Does the original beat the remake? Which would you rather watch with a plate of cookies and a glass of eggnog?