There are a lot of Christmas horror movies out there, but the most controversial one of all was the 1984 slasher Silent Night, Deadly Night. A film that was run out of theatres by outraged parents… and then used the controversy as a foundation to build a lengthy franchise on. To celebrate the holidays this year, we here at Arrow in the Head have compiled a list of the Best Moments in the Silent Night, Deadly Night Franchise. To see what our picks were, keep scrolling. Then let us know what you would choose as the franchise’s best moments by leaving a comment below!
There’s no violence in this moment, but it still ranks as one of the most disturbing scenes in this franchise. Little Billy accompanies his parents on a Christmas Eve visit to his grandfather, who sits in a catatonic state in a mental facility. When his folks make the genius decision to leave Billy alone with Grandpa, the old man reveals that he is conscious and able to communicate – and he uses his time alone with Billy to scare the hell out of the kid. Grandpa tells him Christmas Eve is “the scariest damn night of the year” because Santa Claus severely punishes those who have been naughty. He says Billy better run for his life if he sees Santa… Then the parents return to the room and Grandpa goes back to his catatonia act.
This is the most famous sequence in the Silent Night, Deadly Night franchise, so of course it had to be on this list. Billy, all grown up to become a rampaging maniac in a Santa suit, busts into a house where a young woman named Denise, played by scream queen Linnea Quigley, has been left to babysit her little sister, but has been paying more attention to her boyfriend. Billy impales the topless Denise on the antlers of a mounted deer head, adds her boyfriend to his body count, and then crosses paths with little sister. After confirming that the girl has been good this year, Billy gives her a present: a bloody boxcutter he used to kill a previous victim.
SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT (1984): BEHEAD ON A SLED
When you’re making a movie like Silent Night, Deadly Night and desecrating the image of Santa Claus, you also have to work in ways to turn holiday iconography and activities beyond Santa into something deadly or scary. The best example of this in the original film is the sledding scene, where some youngsters are taking sleds down a snowy hill. A couple bullies come along and steal the sleds, but the worst of the bullies gets his comeuppance. As he’s sledding down the hill, Billy steps out of the darkness and cuts the douchebag’s head off with one swing of his axe. His headless corpse continues on to the bottom of the hill… and then the head comes rolling after.
SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT PART 2 (1987): GARBAGE DAY!
Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 is only half a movie, as more than 40 minutes of its 88 minute running time are dedicated to Billy’s younger brother Ricky relating the story of the first movie, complete with stock footage. But eventually Ricky becomes a killer as well, resulting in a popular sequence where he rampages through a neighborhood. He kills his girlfriend’s ex, kills his girlfriend when she’s shocked by the murder, takes a gun from a cop who witnessed those kills, and uses that gun to shoot people he sees outside their homes or driving by in cars. Spotting a man taking out the trash, Ricky exclaims, “Garbage day!” The line delivery from actor Eric Freeman and the look on his face makes this a very memorable moment.
SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT III: BETTER WATCH OUT! (1989): CHRISTMAS NIGHTMARE
The franchise really takes a dive into the bizarre with the third film, which remains a slasher but a very odd one. Ricky is still around (and played by genre icon Bill Moseley), but the efforts to save his life have left him in a coma, with his brain visible through a transparent dome on his head. A psychic blind girl has been brought in to tap into Ricky’s mind, resulting in her having the strange, bloody, Christmas-themed nightmare she has at the beginning of the movie. Ricky stalks her through the white halls of a hospital, and Santa is no help. Turns out she has been too effective at making contact with Ricky, as he rises from his coma and continues his killing spree while following her to her grandma’s house for Christmas.
INITIATION: SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT 4 (1990): RICKY STOPS BY
The franchise reaches its strangest point with this sequel, which ditches the killer Santa approach to tell a story about a coven of witches. A gross story, full of disgusting sights involving slime, bugs, and larva. One of the most troubling sequences comes when an odd fellow named Ricky and played by Clint Howard (he’s not the same Ricky from the previous films) shows up in the apartment of our heroine Kim with the intention of taking her to a ritual. An intense struggle breaks out between Ricky, Kim, and her boyfriend Hank… and things don’t go well for anyone but Ricky. This sequence works because it feels disturbingly realistic. And because of the moment where Ricky stabs Kim’s bare foot through the crack under a locked door.
SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT 5: THE TOY MAKER (1991): BABYSITTER ATTACK
As you may have figured out by the subtitle, Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker is indeed about people being knocked off by deadly toys. These toys come from a shop run by a character played by Mickey Rooney – who was one of the people outraged by the existence of the first Silent Night, Deadly Night just seven years earlier. A standout sequence involves a babysitter hooking up with her boyfriend while on the job and their tryst being interrupted by an invasion of killer toys. A motorized hand, a rubber snake, a remote-controlled car with spinning saw blades on it, a tank that fires live rounds, little soldiers that are also armed… The girl and her boyfriend have a lot to contend with.
This movie isn’t subtle with the fact that it was drawing inspiration from Pinocchio. The toy maker is Joe Petto (Geppetto), he has a son called Pino – and in the disturbing climactic moments, it is revealed that Pino is a robot that was created by Joe to replace his dead son. Things haven’t gone well for Joe and Pino by this point in the film, and Pino is looking to move on from his abusive father to a loving mother. And he has chosen heroine Sarah Quinn to be his new mommy. He just needs Sarah’s young son Derek to be removed from the equation. And the way Pino acts toward Sarah while telling her he wants her to be his mother is really twisted.
This movie was marketed as a remake, but it tells its own story and might as well be considered Silent Night, Deadly Night 6. Best of all, it gets the franchise back to the killer Santa set-up. One of the most memorable slashing sequences begins with the Santa interrupting a hotel room porn shoot. Multiple people are slashed, limbs are lost, bullets are fired, and a chase sequence ends in the Christmas tree lot beside the hotel… where there happens to be a woodchipper in the middle of the lot, and – quite conveniently – no one around to try to stop the slasher from putting it to use in a very blood way. Here the killer Santa proves he is definitely worthy of following in the footsteps of Billy and Ricky.
SILENT NIGHT (2012): POLICE STATION RAID
Chances are there are two elements of Silent Night that stick in the average viewer’s mind: the woodchipper scene and the fact that the killer Santa arms himself with a flamethrower in the climactic moments, where he raids the local police station and has a standoff with the sheriff played by Malcolm McDowell. There isn’t a lot of flamethrower action, but it’s an unforgettable sight. Santa also wields an axe and brass knuckles during the police station attack, adding a few more victims to his sizeable body count. Shockingly, the use of a flamethrower in this movie was inspired by a real-life Christmas Eve massacre, and you can hear about that in the “WTF Really Happened to This Horror Movie?” video embedded above.
What do you think are the Best Moments in the Silent Night, Deadly Night franchise? Share your personal picks by leaving a comment!