Silent Night, Deadly Night – Parts 1 and 2

In DVD/Blu-ray by Samuel Love

With Halloween behind us, it’s time to look ahead to Christmas – but for horror fans, the fun doesn’t stop. Cult label 101 Films have put together a bloody festive delight with the highly-anticipated 3-disc Silent Night, Deadly Night collection that combines the first two films from the cult slasher series.

Packed together in a beautiful boxset with newly-commissioned artwork, this release is a thing of beauty. With a booklet of new writing and stockings full of bonus features – including a rare unrated cut of the first film – this one is a must-buy…if you like awful films. Yes, the Silent Night, Deadly Night films are almost universally accepted to be among the worst films in the horror genre with the second film considered one of the worst films ever made. And therein lies their charm, and ultimately the reason they’re getting such a lavish release.

The cheesy, ultra-violent and poorly acted films follow brothers Billy and Ricky Caldwell respectively as they embark on horrific sprees of Christmas carnage. Highly protested on release, the first film only lasted a week in cinemas after substantial controversy surrounding its offensive content and portrayal of the festive holiday as a setting for violent slaughter. Panned by critics and surrounded by awful publicity, the film still earned back more than three times its budget in that sole week on the big screen, and went on to spawn a series and a cult following. 

The first film is something of a run-of-the-mill 80s slasher flick, following Billy Caldwell from tortured childhood to his killing spree in his teenage years. While dismally performed, directed and written, it has something of a ‘the little slasher that could’ charm, considering its age and budget. The sequel, however, is a whole other beast. Originally planned to be a simple re-edit of the first film disguised as a sequel, the film reuses approximately 45 minutes of footage from part one as flashbacks to structure Billy’s brother going on a similar rampage for vengeance after his brother’s downfall in the first film. It’s all utterly ridiculous, poorly edited and tediously repetitive, and a downright insult to fans of the first film – and yet, it is the sequel that has gone on to achieve the greatest cult status, perhaps down to just two words…”Garbage day!”

Frankly, everything that could go wrong with a film is present and correct in these films. The acting is horrendous, the writing abysmal, the direction poor and the special effects laughable. And yet, there’s something about them so hypnotic that you simply cannot look away. Hilarious and perplexing in equal measure, there’s nothing quite like the Silent Night, Deadly Night films for a crash course in how not to make a horror film.

This release is a celebration of the films and their surprising legacy, offering surprisingly solid transfers of the low-budget flicks and a veritable smorgasbord of special features including retrospective featurettes, interviews, trailers and more. Fans of the series will be delighted with the results, while newcomers’ experience will be better than ever experiencing all the dreadful facets of these films in sparkling high definition.

Whether you’re looking for comedy or horror will dictate whether you think these films are the best or worst ever made, but there’s no faulting this absolutely flawless Blu-ray release from 101 Films.