Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972) Review
“The mansion… the madness… the maniac… no escape.”
Synopsis: When a man tries to sell his grandfather’s mansion, he learns that the house holds sinister secrets about his family’s past.
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Silent Night, Bloody Night was forgotten for several years after it left the drive-in circuit, and it’s easy to see why. But it now has a cult following, and it’s easy to see why there, as well. Though poorly produced and suffering from lack of focus, the movie has some excellent moments and a thoroughly WTF storyline to keep the audience engaged throughout.
Even the so-called “restored” version of Silent Night, Bloody Night leaves a lot to be desired in the camera department. The picture is usually dark and lacks clarity – we’re treated to some interesting angles, especially during the KillerCam scenes, but the audience never gets a shot that looks like it wasn’t taped off a live broadcast.
The movie could also have used a better editor: the story is a jumbled mess. The first ten minutes or so are done documentary style with a few different voiceovers giving the history of the Butler house; we then get proper live action for about half an hour, after which the focus changes yet again to include regular flashbacks. This convoluted storytelling method is confusing and often lessens the impact of the overall story.
Silent Night, Bloody Night also includes one of my least favorite devices: the killing of the “main character” to show that ANYONE COULD BE NEXT (dum dum dummmm). Whether you love or hate this device, it really doesn’t work for this flick; the audience is told in the opening voiceover (by actual main character Mary Woronov, no less) that the fakeout main character doesn’t survive… and then we don’t meet the actual main character again until about 45 minutes into the movie.
By far the best part of Silent Night, Bloody Night is a series of flashbacks toward the end of the film that reveal the actual backstory of the Butler house. They are moody, horrifying, and packed with meaning (and honestly left me wondering why the entire movie wasn’t just about this part of the story). Though not quite as connected as I would like, coming out of the flashbacks into the climax of the movie is also done quite well… that is, of course, till we’re suddenly treated to more voiceover, which ruins it.
I’d really like a re-cut version of Silent Night, Bloody Night, before saying it’s truly good… but it is an interesting watch despite the quality issues.
Calamity Brains’ Rating: B-
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