Silent Night, Deadly Night - Scream Factory

It’s A Christmas Miracle. Silent Night, Deadly Night Is Out On Scream Factory Blu-ray!

Silent Night, Deadly Night is not necessarily one of the “must sees” for the casual horror fan looking for a campy thrill. It’s savage, violent and punishing. The story opens with young Billy Chapman whose dreams of a white Christmas are obliterated when he witnesses a deranged criminal, dressed in a dime store Santa suit, brutally murder his father and mother on Christmas Eve. Orphaned after the killing of his parents, Billy and his little brother are raised under the oppressive arm of a devout nun who teaches Billy the consequences of being naughty, which mostly ends up with him being tied to his bed or beaten.

Silent Night, Deadly Night - Old Man Peabody

Old Man Peabody sharing the bad news to young Billy about Santa Claus.

When Billy turns eighteen, he half-wittedly gets a job at a toy store around (wait for it) Christmas and ends up having to play (wait for it) Santa. Needless to say, the years of pent up anger and confusion surrounding the death of his parents at the hand of jolly St. Nick rip loose the fractured wiring in Billy’s head and off he goes hacking up anyone he deems is on the naughty list, which is pretty much anyone he meets. Nothing is left to the imagination as Billy dices his way through a blood splattered winter wonderland and the film’s conclusion shares very little with the Capra’esque triumph of George Bailey – it is inevitably not a wonderful life.

Silent Night, Deadly Night - Snowman

“Snowmen were absolutely harmed or injured during the making of this film.”

I LOVE this movie. Like many kids of the 80s who remember the TV commercial, I was terrified and mesmerized at the same time. The image of Santa pulling the gun from his red velvet pocket was burned in my brain, etched there to this day. The film’s poster of an axe wielding Santa sliding down a chimney is macabre and brilliant marketing. However, all this violent Santa imagery didn’t sit well with parents and they pressured TriStar Pictures for the film’s removal from theaters. At the Beyond Fest screening of the film a few years back, the producers discussed this controversy and explained the money trail : Tri-Star Pictures (the distributor), Columbia Pictures (partnered with TriStar) and Coca-Cola (owned Columbia). Coca-Cola has a long advertising history with Santa Claus and the stirrings from angry parents didn’t sit well with the family friendly soft drink company. Mind you, this anger was all based on commercials only! It’s not like the film was meant for kids. Regardless, it was yanked from theaters.

Silent Night, Deadly Night - Poster

“Maybe he’s just a fireman?”

I finally discovered the film on VHS in the 90s and immediately started having Silent Night, Deadly Night parties that consisted of four guys sitting around my dumpy Miami apartment drunkenly watching the film. Those humble beginnings turned into a full blown event in Hollywood that lasted for several years. I’ve owned the film on VHS, Laserdisc and DVD. I’ve got the Death Waltz vinyl signed by the cast and crew. The film’s eerie Doo-wop styled Christmas carol “Santa’s Watching” becomes my ringtone every December. Setting aside the conventional slasher fare of numerous creative kills, Silent Night, Deadly Night adds a very rich backstory to why Billy becomes a killer. Instead of a five minute flashback origin story, the filmmakers treat us to twenty five minutes of set up. I think that’s what separates it from the rest of the Halloween/Friday the 13th knockoffs and why I think we are still talking about the film 30+ years later.

Silent Night, Deadly Night - Laserdisc

“My new Scream Factory Blu-ray along with my signed Death Waltz Vinyl, my Laserdisc and a bloody axe hand crafted by my wife as a prop for our former SNDN/Die Hard Christmas Party.”

This year, it’s a Christmas miracle because Scream Factory has released Silent Night, Deadly Night on Blu-ray, and it’s the best I’ve ever seen it! Scream Factory has done their established awesome job of loading the release up with fun extras (notably a “then and now” locations tour), but the centerpiece is the disc’s HD transfer from the original camera negative. How these guys at Scream Factory dig up the bones of these classics is beyond me, but thank goodness they do. Now, this two disc set also comes with the un-cut version, which has been available on Laserdisc and DVD. Sadly, the original camera negatives from the extended scenes could not be found, so Scream Factory used the best available standard definition versions and cut them in with their new mastered footage. It’s a bumpy contrast, but they did the best they could and the serious fan will enjoy it. Honestly, after having seen both versions over the years, you aren’t missing much in those extended scenes – some blood, guts and the occasional added sleaze – but to view the crispest version would be to watch the theatrical release. One thing I wanted to shine the Retroist spotlight on is the incredible shots from Ira’s Toy Store.

Silent Night, Deadly Night - Toy Store

“Ira’s reminds me of Cut-Rate toys on Devon Avenue in Chicago.”

The store is featured heavily in the film’s second act and showcased some big toys of the era. These days that would be problematic and tricky with licenses and clearances, but this was the 80s man! Greydon Clark’s Joysticks features every popular coin-op game of the era, think he got the licenses to use Pac Man? Think again, internet lawyer troll. Now, for full transparency, I had spent time doing a bunch of screen grabs to curate a collection of stills from the movie but then I thought, ‘Hey, I bet some other toy nerd has already done this.” Lo and behold, a quick Google search turned up a few sites that have done a marvelous (and probably better) job cataloging and identifying the toys in Ira’s. One was written by the supremely talented John Squires (aka @FreddyInSpace) and he’s got a nice post you can read over at Bloody Disgusting.

Also, here’s a funny post from 2010 by writer David W. About how disorganized Ira’s shelves are.

I will add one more to the mix. Seen behind the shrewd Mr. Sims is the Zaxxon board game. I had that game, but for the life of me, I couldn’t tell you how to play it. In doing some research, I had no recollection of the board or pieces. My guess is I didn’t play it much, but I do love that artwork!

Silent Night, Deadly Night - Zaxxon

“Mr. Sims is nobody’s friend.

So, grab your milk and cookies and get your copy of Silent Night, Deadly Night on Blu-ray here!
Silent Night, Deadly Night - Scream Factory - Blu Ray

One last thing, I started my review stating that “Silent Night, Deadly Night is not necessarily one of the “must sees” for the casual horror fan looking for a campy thrill.” Please take that to heart. It’s not a goofy slasher romp. With the right audience, it’s totally entertaining. But with the wrong audience, you might get a few raised eyebrows. Definitely not for the faint of heart and certainly not for anyone who might take offense with a raging, axe throwing, homicidal Santa Claus. Before you share with your loved ones this holiday season, consider your audience.

Silent Night, Deadly Night - Patrick J. Doody and Patrick Brian Wilson

Meeting Billy Chapman himself, Robert Brian Wilson. The Egyptian Theater, Hollywood. 2014.”

Starlog #129 Featuring Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future!

With the Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future complete series being released on DVD yesterday, our very own Patrick J. Doody was kind enough to share this magazine scan with us.

While looking through some things in his old room at his parents house he came across this mint Starlog magazine featuring the Soldiers of the Future…and Wil Wheaton vowing, “I’ll never save the Enterprise again!”.

The House On Sorority Row starring 4 Out Of 5 Doctors

I have so much to say about this film. WAY too much to waste everyone’s time reading about it in a blog post.

Oh, okay you twisted my arm.

So, I’ll start by saying that I believe this film to be one of the more underrated horror films of the 80s. While it did have the “dead teenager” zeitgeist on the surface, it elevated the trend of the slasher movie with a mystery surrounding the curious history of the sorority house and a certain inhabitant. It also contains an INCREDIBLE final scare that I will not give away here.

The film (which, I admit, does have many laughably bad horror film moments) tells the story of sorority that is on the eve of having their end of the year party. The sisters pull a prank on the strict house mother, which ends badly. And by badly I mean the house mother ends up wrapped in a rug and buried in the backyard pool. Once the party starts, things get out of hand. And by out of hand, I mean the girls involved in the prank start getting brutally murdered one by one, all while trying to figure out who is after them. Here is the trailer.

The film also features two wonderful musical scores.

The incidental music was composed by Richard Band, who comes from a big Hollywood pedigree and has written some great horror film scores – Re-Animator, Silent Night Deadly Night, From Beyond, to name a few. The theme song from this film is available for download on Amazon. And as a footnote to my complete and utter geek out over HOSR (yeah, “HOSR”, I just did that) – I know it SO well that I noticed on the CW’s promos for The Inner Circle, they were using the music from this film. I actually ran into the living room thinking that the movie was on TV. I thought to myself that whoever in the promo department at CW picked this song, they rock and I want to meet them.

The OTHER music in this film, which leads me to my personal connection with this post, is by an 80s rock band out of DC – 4 Out Of 5 Doctors. The melodic power pop band was featured in this film AS the band at the sorority party. At that time, they were up and coming in DC, signed to CBS records and on their way to breaking big. Sadly, it never happened for the 4 docs, but their legacy is preserved by the FIVE songs they perform in the film. Yes, five. It’s absurd as to how much screen time they got in the movie. If you watched the trailer above, you’ll notice how much freaking trailer screen time they get. (I will say though, it doesn’t match the amount of screen time The Doobie Brothers got in the very special bootlegging episode of What’s Happening.)

So, how does this all connect to me? Well, many many years ago, the rights holders for this film hired my writing partner and I to create a treatment for the sequel. Unfortunately for us, maybe fortunately for everyone else, the film never happened. (They did remake the film as Sorority Row, which I have not seen.) During the time working on the treatment, we took a copy of the original film and re-cut it to parody VH1’s Behind The Music, which centered on none other than…4 Out Of 5 Doctors. I then contacted Cal Everett, the band’s lead singer, via a Google search and sent him a copy. He loved it (or tolerated it, because we made a LOT OF FUN of the band) enough to send me a CD rip of BOTH 4 Out Of 5 Doctors LPs. It was one of those personal triumphs that when I tried to explain the very convoluted story to my friends, it was mostly met with blank stares. And now, ten years later you can purchase their only two albums on their site at Of course, if you watch The House On Sorority Row, you’ll get to hear a lot of the music during the five performances.

The film was written and directed by Mark Rosman, who has gone on to a very successful TV directing career. According to IMDB, this was his first film. And I think, regardless of the film’s sillier moments, he set out to make a smarter, better looking and better sounding horror film than most of the Friday The 13th ripoffs that were prevalent in the era. I believe he succeeded.

Behind The Scenes: Salem’s Lot (1979)

With our own Patrik J. Doody’s excellent Salem’s Lot Post earlier today it seemed only right to share these two behind the scenes photos of that excellent Tobe Hooper directed miniseries. I’m going to have to take up Patrick’s challenge tonight and not only watch the scene with Mike Ryerson (Geoffrey Lewis) waiting for his teacher, Jason Burke (Lew Ayres), in his bedroom before I go to bed but the whole movie…in the dark…possibly with the covers over my head.

Of course a huge thanks goes to Quint for the two photos above at Ain’t It Cool News for his continuing Behind the Scenes features, he really does give us movie fans an excellent post to look forward to everyday!