Silent Night, Deadly Night: Collector’s Edition

| December 2, 2017

Horror fans know the history of Silent Night, Deadly Night all-too-well. It’s the stuff of legend, signifying how spectacularly detached our horror hound interests often can be from dominant social values. This is because, in 1984, this low budget Christmas-themed slasher became the center of controversy, stirring critics and parent groups into an uproar over its corruption of the “sacred” figure of Santa Claus. (But of course, in horror, nothing’s sacred and all conventions are summarily challenged and dismantled.) People picketed, wrote scathing reviews, and even penned letters to the filmmakers despite the facts that at least two films before had featured a killer Santa Claus–1972’s Tales from the Crypt being the first of course—and the first prominent slasher, Black Christmas (1974), had Christmas in its title.

The controversy didn’t stop people from going out to the theaters to see Silent Night, Deadly Night during TriStar’s brief run of the film, as the protesters would have hoped though. In fact, the controversy no doubt contributed to the film’s initial box office success a great deal, especially when you consider it opened alongside Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street in November of 1984 and actually beat out Nightmare in their opening weekend by about $150,000! The returns on Silent Night came to a crashing halt when TriStar pulled it from theaters, and Nightmare went on to make many millions more than it did in the long-run. Still, for a time, Silent Night, Deadly Night was #1 and all because the non-horror-loving squares hated it!

Thanks to its continued success on home video over the years, Silent Night, Deadly Night remains a surprisingly well-loved film and a holiday staple among many horror fans, alongside its four sequels for us few weirdos who just can’t get enough killer Santa Claus in our lives. I write “surprising” here simply because, when viewed through a modern lens and compared even to earlier films like Christmas Evil (1980), Silent Night, Deadly Night appears quite tame. Even in the unrated version, the film isn’t all that gory or shocking, and screenwriter Michael Hickey devotes so much time to establishing the psychology of the Santa suit-wearing killer Billy that the violence is anything but senseless or mindless. With the film following a child from his earliest traumas to his eventual mental breakdown as a result of continued abuse situates the film firmly in the realm of tragedy, narratively justifying quite well the Christmas Eve murder spree that critics and parents deemed unjustifiable sight-unseen.

Silent Night, Deadly Night holds such a significant position in horror film history that Scream Factory has honored it with a 2-disc Collector’s Edition Blu-ray release, which includes both the theatrical and unrated versions of the film supplemented by a wealth of special features new and old. What’s more, they’ve not only released the film in the aforementioned 2-disc Blu-ray Collector’s Edition, but they’re also offering it in a ShoutFactory.com-exclusive Deluxe Limited Edition version which adds to that a rolled 18” x 24” poster of the new cover art and a beautiful, exclusive 8” NECA figure of Billy in his Santa outfit with axe.

The new 4k scan of the original camera negative used in Scream Factory’s transfer is beautifully sharp and characterized by rich color saturation throughout. Though clearly plagued by some constant speckling, there’s no denying that this is the best the film’s ever looked. That said, the originally cut inserts of additional nudity and gore reincorporated here into the unrated version are still presented in standard definition from video, as the original elements for the footage cut by TriStar have never resurfaced. So that’s a bummer, especially since the contrast between the theatrically-released footage and the unrated footage is now greater than ever when juxtaposed with the 4k footage, but at least we still have the option of viewing the film with or without it! The contents of the Scream Factory discs are as follows:

DISC ONE: Theatrical Version

  • R-Rated Theatrical Trailer & VHS Trailer
  • TV Spots
  • Radio Spot

DISC TWO: Extended Unrated Version

  • NEW “Slay Bells Ring: The Story Of Silent Night, Deadly Night,” retrospective documentary featuring Interviews with Writer Michael Hickey, Co-Executive Producers Scott J. Schneid and Dennis Whitehead, Editor/Second Unit Director Michael Spence, Composer Perry Botkin, and star Robert Brian Wilson
  • NEW Interview with co-star Linnea Quigley
  • NEW Silent Night, Deadly Night Locations Then and Now featurette
  • NEW Audio Commentary with Robert Brian Wilson and Scott J. Schneid
  • Audio Commentary with Michael Hickey, Perry Boykin, Scott J. Schneid, and Michael Spence
  • Audio Interview with Director Charles E. Sellier, Jr. From Deadpit Radio (Extended Version)
  • “Santa’s Stocking Of Outrage” featuring onscreen text from reviews of the film and complaints filed by parents
  • Poster and Still Gallery

About the Author:

Jef is a writer and educator in Chicago, Illinois. He holds a degree in Media & Cinema Studies from DePaul University, but sometimes he drops it and picks it back up again. He's also the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com and is fueled entirely by coffee (as if you couldn't tell).
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