YOU BETTER WATCH OUT

Posted on Dec 8, 2012 in All Reviews, Christmas, Hardcore Gore, Horror for the Holidays | 0 comments

www.tavernofterror.comChristmas horror movies always put a smile on my face. There’s nothing I love more than seeing the sickeningly sweet holiday season get a chainsaw shoved up its ass at full tilt. Maybe its being forced to listen to Christmas carols everywhere I go for a solid month, or maybe it’s the hypocritical commercialization, or maybe its the nail-on-chalkboard screech of Rudolph’s nose – whatever the cause, Christmas season always annoys the shit out of me, and therefore I love seeing it defiled.

I don’t think that anyone will argue with me that the 1984 slasher film Silent Night, Deadly Night, defiles Christmas like no other movie ever dared to. Filled with murder, rape, abusive nuns and enough grindhouse sleaze to make Joe Spinell fill a barf bag, this cult classic is the heavyweight champ of holiday horror. The controversy it caused is now infamous – trailers for the film ran during the day showing a killer Santa, and that got the PTA in an uproar leading to massive boycotts that got the film pulled from theaters. Effeminate male film critics spat venom at the movie and of course that only got teenage horror fans more excited to see it.

Despite the hoopla, the film spawned several sequels (albeit pretty terrible and mostly unrelated) and now it seems it is up next on Hollywood’s remake chopping block. Clearly it is a loose remake, as modern horror, although its enjoys producing faux grindhouse, has moved far from the exploitative, grimy nature of films like the original Silent Night, Deadly Night.

Can this new killer Santa provide that anti-holiday cheer fans of the original desire, or does his fat ass just get stuck in the chimney of mainstream horror schlock?

SILENT NIGHT (2012)

The film starts off with the villain, not the heroes, which is a plus. This tells me that the filmmakers know what this movie should be: Santa slaying. The opening has much more of a Saw feel than a slasher feel, but I guess that’s just the mood of modern horror films. Right away we see that this is a slicker, scarier looking Santa as he suits up Rambo style. Still, it is not without its dark humor, as you’ll see when a man is bound to a chair by Christmas lights.

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Then we meet our heroine, Aubrey (Jaime King of the My Bloody Valentine remake). She is a widowed police officer living in the small town that is about to be set ablaze (literally) by our killer Saint Nick. Her boss, Sherriff Cooper (Malcolm McDowell in a typically hammy role), calls her into work on Christmas Eve. She says farewell to her parents and we are treated to a sugary, homey family scene that only exists in movies. Seriously, no one acts like this. I’m not sure if they were trying to be funny here or if they were serious.

But anyway, once she heads to work we are treated to the rest of the town’s inhabitants, all of which are the polar opposite of Aubrey’s gumdrop household. You’ll see the mayor’s slutty daughter, shady mall Santas, a perverted reverend, and a fourteen year old girl who slaps her Mommy’s heart pills out of her hand.

That’s right: naughty victims!

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The Killer Santa arrives and starts knocking people off pretty quickly. The kill scenes are totally glorious too. In this aspect, Silent Night is not just a loose remake, it is actually a homage to the 80’s slasher genre, offering up copious amounts of spectacular gore and kills that are both entertaining and hilarious. The weapons vary from sickles, to wood chippers to flamethrowers and anyone is an open target.

It is up to a bumbling and inept police force to stop the slayings, but with Sheriff Cooper in charge things go rather slowly. McDowell comes off rather lame here, trying to spout action-movie one-liners that don’t go well with his tea cosy voice. But to be fair, I’m never able to take him seriously. The character is sort of hammy in and of itself though, and even says that “murder seldom makes sense.” Really, asshole? Actually it usually makes perfect sense. In most cases, the motives and suspects are very clear. Psycho killers are not all that common. Who made this man a Sheriff?

Aubrey does her best to disobey the Sherrif’s orders and solve the case her own way, making her become the heroine, but it also leads to too many cop movie scenes of her investigating dark hallways and questioning suspects. These moments aim for suspense but wind up being trite and boring. You’ll find yourself moaning, “Just get back to Santa, already.”

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Winks to the original are present here though. The scary speech from Grandpa is nodded to and a pair of mounted antlers on the wall will certainly get fans of the original excited. We also get the mayor’s slutty daughter Tiffany who would make Linnea Quigley proud. Even the killer’s back-story, though not as complex and time consuming as the original, has a similar origin.

I appreciate Santa killing the naughty and sparing the nice, but the movie has him steer from this rule a bit in the name of creating tension and suspense. Some of the main characters get killed off to heighten the danger, but we never get an example of them deserving it in Santa’s eyes. But with the kills being as colorful and creative as they are, I can accept the plot hole.

The supporting cast is rounded out by Donal Logue (Grounded For Life) as a sleazy street Santa who gives a stellar anti-holiday speech and a nearly unrecognizable Lisa Marie (Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow) as a neighborhood mom.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The film is highly entertaining, filled with said spectacular kills and a lot of female eye-candy. However the finale is rather dull and anti-climatic, and the epilogue would have been better off inserted earlier into the film.  There is also a lot of unfunny pop culture references that no one asked for, and Audrey takes fucking forever to do everything from finish a pointless crossword puzzle to shooting an armed drug dealer. The movie has solid slasher moments but it often derails itself with police manhunt material that seems completely out of place.

However, while it isn’t as memorable or nearly as vile as the true Silent Night, Deadly Night, it is still great to see a killer Santa stalking the silver screen again, and this new Santa really trumps the original’s in the creative kill category, making Silent Night a must see for genre fans. But whether or no you should return to it every December is debatable.

  • RATING: 3 out 5. Not a new classic, but a lot of fun the first time around.
  • CHICK OF THE LITTER: Courtney-Jane White as Tiffany in her sexy Santa panties.

BARTENDER’S NOTES

In case you missed it in our round-up, Sam Adams has a new holiday beer out this year. White Christmas is a citrusy, light white that I did not expect to find all that interesting. However, when I tried one out of their winter variety pack I was presently surprised. I usually prefer stouts this time of year, but this one surprised me. The cinnamon and nutmeg hints are gentle enough to enjoy without upstaging the beer flavor.

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I would suggest paring this with a little holiday cheer such as spiked custard or maybe a little nog in a moose glass. That will make it a little easier to get into the holiday spirit, and it will make you slap your knee all the harder when this movie presents to you its outstanding axe play.

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