Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972)

Rating: D-

Dir: Theodore Gershuny
Star: Patrick O’Neal, Mary Woronov, James Patterson, Philip Bruns

Not to be confused with Silent Night, Deadly Night (a film about a killer Santa – which just begs for a slay/sleigh joke, though I’ll spare you), this may be the first Christmas slasher, though matters are clouded since this was apparently made two years before its 1974 release – in April, largely wasting the point of the whole festive theme. The reasons for the delay should be obvious to anyone watching: it’s cheap, poorly-made and badly thought-out. The idea is kinda cool – an abandoned house and a town with secrets, on (to borrow a line from Halloween) the night he came home – but it feels like they made the script up as they went along, filming scenes to cover the holes that suddenly appeared. The presence of a voice-over is normally a reliable warning sign, and here, it’s used in almost every other scene.

Having said that, the performances aren’t too bad: despite being the director’s wife, Woronov is her usual, reliable self and the presence of John Carradine as the local newspaper editor (not that he says a word – that’d have cost more money!) adds unexpected weight. There’s also a lengthy, surreal flashback sequence, shot in sepia, which resembles something from a German Expressionist film more than 70’s horror. It’s probably more memorable than anything else this has to offer, particularly the “killer-cam” shots, which are so over-used as to leave us wondering if we were going to get a POV sequence of him making a sandwich or going to the bathroom. The final explanation is, frankly, incredible, but if you remain interested that long, you’re doing better than we did.