Movies

Quick “review”: Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)


Synopsis: As a five-year-old, Billy Chapman witnesses a man dressed as Santa Claus murder his parents. Three years later, he has another traumatic Santa-related experience at an orphanage. Naturally, he grows up to become a serial murderer in a Santa suit.

Controversy: It was the Yuletide hook of this Eighties slasher flick that presented some promotional hiccups, with the parents of America were concerned about their kids seeing posters and TV commercials depicting Jolly Old St. Nicholas as a mass murderer. Critic Gene Siskel called out the names of the distributor, the writer, the director, and the producer for public shaming; Leonard Maltin, in his zero-star TV review, famously quipped, “What’s next? The Easter Bunny as child molester?” Protests greeted the film in the Midwest. In Britain, a conference of Catholic authorities put the movie at the top of its “morally offensive” list, and it was pulled from theaters both here and abroad.

Rating: 8

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