Silent Night, Bloody Night
Theodore Gershuny, Jeffrey Konvitz and Ira Teller
Patrick O'Neal as John Carter
James Patterson as Jeffrey Butler
Mary Woronov as Diane Adams
John Carradine as Charlie Towman
Walter Abel as Mayor Adams
Fran Stevens as Tess Howard
Walter Klavun as Sheriff Bill Mason
Many people around the world find Christmas time a joyous and wonderful celebration, for both for religious reasons and as an excuse for family to come together. Others find Christmas to be a time of depression and memories of unhappy events or situations. For yet others Christmas represents a time to remember a horrible massacre that devastated a town and brought mayhem and death to those around them. Silent Night Bloody Night is an example of the latter.
In grand 70s cinematic style Silent Night Bloody Night begins with grainy images of a small town and a family living in a large country house. The movie is narrated by Diane Adams (Mary Woronov) and she recounts the history of Wilfred Butler (Phillip Bruns), his family and the house in which they lived.
Although very complicated and dramatic, the history of the family can be summed up pretty well: The family lived happily in “Butler House” for a while, the youngest daughter went crazy, father Wilfred was distant and didn’t show his face much, most of the family died, Wilfred disappeared and could not be found and then suddenly Wilfred appeared at the house one day and set himself on fire and died in the yard. Wilfred left the house to his only surviving relative, a grandson whom he had never met, and the rule of his inheritance that the house not be changed at all from the way it had always been.
Narrator Diane grew up hearing tales that the Butler house was haunted, that there was death and craziness surrounding it, and that she should stay away. Diane’s father, the Mayor of this small town, was particularly wary of the house and it’s history and demanded that Diane steer clear.
Years later the grandson that inherited the house, Jeffrey Butler (James Patterson), needed money and decided to sell. He sent his attorney to town to arrange for the sale of the house, cheap. The leaders of the town, including the mayor (Walter Abel), the Sherriff (Walter Klavun), the newspaper editor (John Carradine) and the switchboard operator (Fran Stevens) were happy to scrape together the cash and buy the house – with the intention of tearing it down and ridding the town of it’s presence.
Thus begins a grisly chain of events that includes an inmate breaking out of an insane asylum and many deaths as a result. Throughout the mayhem there are strange telephone calls being made from the Butler house to members of the town’s leadership, all betraying the fact that everyone in town had some kind of secret associated with Butler House.
Silent Night Bloody Night is a story that switches from horror to drama to crime study to whodunit to horror. The characters are colorful to be sure – unfortunately this doesn’t prevent the movie from “dragging” a bit here and there. Overall, though, the complicated story is held together pretty well, and interesting sub-plots emerge as bits of revelation are offered…but none of it actually gives any clue to the surprise ending. In fact, when the super-duper surprise twist at the end becomes known, it is so out of left field that I don’t think it would even be possible to have seen it coming. That bothered me a bit. When you have a super-duper surprise twist ending then one should be able to look back on the film and see where they SHOULD have figured it out. Not enough tidbits of information were revealed to allow for this inSilent Night Bloody Night.
Ultimately Silent Night Bloody Night is not a bad movie while you’re watching it, but once you get to the end it seems as if all of the middle part could have been skipped over and the result would have been the same.
Silent Night Bloody Night is a great movie to watch with a group of friends that feel the need to talk through a movie…because you won’t really miss anything. Just pay attention at the beginning and pay attention at the end – you’ll have the whole thing wrapped up.
One last thing – the movie is available on DVD, but my copy was part of the Chilling Classics 50 Movie Pack Collection. Since there are a lot of great flicks in that set and it’s pretty cheap I recommend getting Silent Night Bloody Night that way.