The 25 Slays of Christmas – 6 – “Silent Night, Bloody Night (1974)”

http://m.imdb.com/title/tt0070694/

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOXx7Q0UfH4

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Well, apparently it wasn’t enough that I fell asleep during “Don’t Open Till’ Christmas”, so I followed that up by falling asleep during this one too. Yet again I didn’t feel I could BS a review on a movie I only saw part of, but I didn’t get a chance to re-watch it for a few days, thus the tardiness of this review. On the plus side I saw some pretty cool movies since then, and even better, this is a cool flick !!

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The plot revolves around a house with a checkered past that was willed to the owners grandson upon his death. The only stipulation was that the house be left untouched and remain in the family. 20 years later the grandson has decided to sell the house. As word spreads, a mysterious figure escapes from an insane asylum and makes their way to the house, killing any who get in their way. Who is the killer, and what is their relation to the house ? What exactly happened in the house anyway ?!

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SNBN sports an impressive cast, including John Carradine (The Howling, Bride of Frankenstein), Phil Bruns (Return of the Living Dead II, also played Jerry’s original father on “Seinfeld” for 1 episode before being replaced), Mary Woronov (Death Race 2000, The Devils Rejects), Patrick O’Neal (Under Siege, The Stuff) as well as several former “Warhol Superstars” such as Ondine and Candy Darling. The acting is largely fine, especially for a low budget affair of this ilk. Interestingly this was also produced by Troma bigwig Lloyd Kaufman ! Neat !

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One of the first things I noticed about this film was the excellent minor key version of “Silent Night” used over the opening credits. It was quite lovely and really set the tone nicely. And I don’t just throw around terms like “lovely” all the time I’ll have you know ! The film was completed in 1972 but wasn’t released until 1974 (the same year we were graced with “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre”). It certainly has an uneven feel at times, but this adds to the surreal, dreamlike feel the film maintains.

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While not super gory, SNBN does have its share of murders, including a few axe murders in the opening 15 minutes. The plot is really something to behold. At times I felt like I was lost, but by the time the twists are slowly revealed I came to really respect and enjoy what they were going for. There are elements of incest, insanity, murder, conspiracy and faked deaths, etc. You know, all the “good stuff”.

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To be honest, I did a complete 180 on this film upon re-watching it and would definitely say it has been one of the unexpected highlights of this holiday slayride. It kept me guessing and, like most good films, made me want to watch it again after it was over. I’m certainly glad I gave it another shot after starting it too late initially, and I highly reccomend giving it a go. The best part of it is, it’s in the public domain so technically you own it already ! What a world !

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