23 Dec 2013

SLASHER FILM RULES: Silent Night, Deadly Night

1984 saw the release of Silent Night, Deadly Night, not the first Christmas based horror but certainly the most controversial (because, you know, small children who still believe in Santa may be upset to see someone dress as Santa if they're allowed to watch a horror film.  It is not a film about a small group being killed off one-by-one but rather a random killer film.  So does that mean it follows the rules or not?

The following my include spoilers for

Rule #1 - A Warning Will Come From...

Sister Margaret warns Mother Superior about Billy (fairly regularly, it seems) when he is young, but no one warns the potential victims.  Sister Margaret later gets worried when she hears that Billy is dressed as Santa but immediately hangs up the phone instead of warning anyone.  When she discovers the first 3 bodies the police believe her immediately.   There is a crazy old man, but rather than warning, he partially creates the problem.

Rule #2 - There Will Be T&A

Four women appear topless in the film and there are brief glimpses of two guys butts.

Rule #3 - Death Will Be A Punishment For...

A teen couple who have sex and survive.
Billy goes on his spree because he was told by his crazy grandfather that Santa Claus punishes those who are naughty, witnesses his parents murdered by a man in a Santa suit and raised with a twisted sense of what is wrong.  Given this, Billy is punishing those he kills for transgressing (going as far as yelling "Punish, Punish, Punish as he kills), however, his concept of transgression may be skewed and include being up after bedtime.

A:  Sex - Andy (for trying to rape Pamela), Denise & Tommy were all killed before actual sex took place (although they are killed before sex, I'm counting it).  A pair of teens in the orphanage survive (but are beaten with a belt by the Mother Superior) but that is long before Billy's killing spree so I'm in two minds on this.  [3/3] or [3/5]

By this time the Carolers appear to have left.
B:  Nudity - Almost all the topless women are killed (Billy's mother as part of her murder, Pamela after Billy kills her attacker, Denise is murdered while wandering around topless).  Billy is nude in a dream sequence, but I'm not counting that.  The teens in the orphanage are both seen naked, but survive.  Once again, is that countable?  [3/3] or [3/5]

C:   Drink -  Mr Sim & Mrs Randell seem like random killings but they are both drunk.  [2/2]

E:   Hitchhiking - Although no one is killed while hitchhiking or giving a lift, Billy's mother and father are murdered when they stop to ask a stranger if he needs help with his car trouble.  [2/2]

F:   Crime - The original Santa who killed Billy's parents is a murderer and a robber, he doesn't seem to get killed (but this is long before Billy becomes a killer).  Bob or Mac is killed for stealing a sled.  The other (Mac or Bob) isn't killed.  [1/2]

G:   Being Annoying/Sleazy - Andy is killed while forcing himself on Pamela, which is beyond sleazy and also a crime, however, it's nice to use all the categories.  The first death in the film, killed in a robbery, hates Christmas so probably counts as annoying.  [2/2]

H:   Being a Bystander - Father O'Brien is shot by police in a case of mistaken identity.  Officer Barnes is also killed after accidentally killing Father O'Brien.  He doesn't quite make the grade for annoying or cowardly, though.  Once again, a bystander being killed undermines the killed for transgression rule.

Rule #4 - Never Go...

A & D:  Basement/Outbuildings - Officer Barnes enters and searches an abandoned (I think) storm shelter which is nothing but a big basement.  He is killed leaving it.  Denise and Tommy are about to have sex in the basement but go upstairs to get killed.
F:  Anywhere alone - Mr Sims goes into the stockroom alone and is killed, Denis and Tommy leave the basement and are killed one-by-one.  All of these are before they know there's a killer.  Officer Barnes, armed and ready to shot anyone (absolutely anyone) knowingly patrols the outside of the orphanage alone and is killed for it.

Rule #5 - Order of Death...

First Characters to appear on screen (1971)
A:     The First Person on Screen - Of the 3 characters who are first to appear on screen, one later becomes a killer and the others are the second and third characters to die on screen.  The film jumps ahead from 1971 to 1974, no one from this period is killed.  It jumps again to 1984 where the first person to appear is the 3rd killed in Billy's spree, not the first.

B:   The Black Man dies First - there are no minority characters in the film, seemingly the entire city.
First Character to appear in 1984

D:        The Bimbo - Pamela (2nd killed in Billy's spree) 
refuses Andy's advances and is attacked by him, but she also seems pretty stupid and is wearing nothing but a loose-fitting cardigan.  Denise is certainly a bimbo.

F:     The Macho Jerk - Andy is beyond a macho jerk into rapist territory.  Tommy is certainly a macho jerk.   Bob (or Mac) is a bully and thief.

H:      The Sensitive Guy - The killer, Billy, actually, is a pretty sensitive guy.  When he's not a deranged killer.  Mr Sims is OK, I guess.  One has to assume Father O'Brien was OK, too.  Officer Barnes, perhaps.

I:        Children - Cindy convinced Billy that she's been good all year and survives, receiving a present.  The present is a utility knife and is quickly followed by seeing her baby-sitter's semi-naked body impaled on a trophy reindeer head, so it may not be the best year for her.  Two young late-night potential sledders are watched but not killed.  The kids in the orphanage are saved when Billy, dressed as Santa, is shot in front of them, the second time that they'd seen Santa shot in front of them that morning.  Not a particularly good Christmas for them, either, especially for Billy's brother Ricky. 

The Final Order of Death is:

1.  Guy at Store (1971, robber).  [None]
2.  Father (1971, robber).  [A]
3.  Mother  (1971, robber).  [A]
4.  Andy.  [F]
5.  Pamela.  [D]
6.  Mr Sims.  [H]
7.  Mrs Randell.  [None]
8.  Denise.  [D]
9.  Tommy.  [F]
10.  Bob or Mac. [F]
11.  Father O'Brien (Shot by police).  [H?]
12.  Officer Barnes:  [H?]

Rule #6 - Especially When They Are Most Needed, The Following Things Cannot Be Relied On…

A:  Communication - Tommy attempts to call for help and the phone seems to work, but he is killed before he gets through.  At the orphanage the phone is left of the hook by child, stopping them ringing through with a warning.

E:  Authorities - The police were outsmarted all night. Two tried to arrest the wrong guy dressed as Santa, another shot and killed a priest dressed as Santa (in front of a group of orphans) and is soon after killed himself.  Billy is, however, finally shot by Captain Richards.  Nuns as authority are also pretty unreliable.

Final and female, but...

Rule #7 - The Final Girl

There is no final girl in the film.  Sister Margaret being the closest the films gets.

Rule #8 - The Killer has a connection to...

A:         The Location - He returns to the orphanage he grew up in.

B:         The Final Girl -  No Final Girl, but Sister Margaret did work at the orphanage he grew up in.

C:         The Protector - Captain Richard might fill this role.  No connection.

D:         The Other Victims - Billy worked with his first 4 victims and was heading to the nursing home he grew up in.  His other victims were random kills.

E:         Feminity - No sign.

F:         A Specific Look - Dressed as Santa (without the beard).

G:         A Specific Weapon - No specific weapon (but did like carry an axe and his last two kills were with it), however, there was a Christmas theme to at least two of the kills (strangulation by Christmas lights, impaled on the antlers of a trophy reindeer head.)  The other murder weapons, a knife, hammer and bow & arrow and in one simple case defenestration.

Rule #9 - Evil Never Dies...

A:        Kill the Bad Guy Twice - Never really occurred with Billy, however Father O'Brien's death fills the rule nicely.

B:         The Bad Guy Lives Again -   Upon witnessing his brother's death Ricky seem to become like him.

C:         Evil Is Mortal - Santa is immortal.  Guys dressed as Santa, not so much.

Rule #10 - The Sequel Will Be Bigger/More Formulaic

This is the first film in a series, however, for future reference the following should be noted:

A:  They will follow the rules more - This was a early film and about a "random killer" not so much a slasher targeting a small group.

B:   They will be more formulaic - As the first film in a series, no real series formula exists to follow or break.

C:  There will be more T&A - This film included 3 1/2 sets of breasts and a some brief shots male butt.  Two sex scene is shown, with brief nudity in each.

D:  More and bigger deaths - Most of the deaths were simple bloody wounds, however, some were FX shots (like Denise being impaled on antlers and a decapitation).

  • Unknown Robber dressed as Santa:  3.
  • Billy as Santa:  6.
  • Officer Barnes: 1.


The following rules were followed in this film:   2; 3c; 3e; 3g; 3h*; 4a; 4d; 5a; 5f; 5i; 8a; 8b; 8f.
The following rules were partially  followed in this film:  3a; 3b; 3f; 4f; 6a; 8d; 8g; 9a; 9b.
The following rules were not followed in this film:  1; 4b; 4c; 4e; 4g; 5d; 8c; 8e.
The following rules did not apply to this film:   3d; 5b; 5c; 5e; 6b; 6d; 6f; 6g; 7; 9c; 10.
~ DUG.

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