Silent Night, Bloody Night (1974)

Article #1783 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-31-2006
Posting Date: 6-30-2006
Directed by Theodore Gershuny
Featuring Patrick O’Neal, James Patterson, Mary Woronov

The owner of a large deserted house returns home after a long absence. He catches fire in his house and burns to death, and is buried. The house is inherited by his son, who has never seen it. Twenty years later, the house is put up for sale. On discovering this, a violent inmate in a nearby insane asylum breaks loose, and before long, people are dying…

What is it about the song “Silent Night” that seems to inspire the titles for Christmas-themed horror movies? I fully anticipated that I was about to watch another of those killer-Santa-Claus movies, and I wasn’t expecting much. Such is not the case, though – there are no killer Santas to be found here. Instead, I found myself sucked in by this one. It’s not a great movie, but it is surprisingly suspenseful at times, largely due to the fact that a certain amount of creative style went into it, and the central mystery/backstory is truly intriguing. I guessed at least one aspect of the mystery before it was all over; the committee of townspeople that greets the lawyer (a group which includes John Carradine as the editor of the newspaper, who, oddly enough, can only speak in a croak and does most of his communicating by ringing bells) in charge of selling the house all have something in common that makes them specific targets for the lunatic. The acting is quite uneven, and it looks like the movie was heavily edited at one point; there are a number of abrupt jump cuts that seem unnatural. At other times, the editing is fascinating, and the use of Christmas music on occasion is unexpectedly haunting. This one was better than I expected it would be.


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