ann hale looks at two horror classics (?) for the holidays…
(editor’s note: we accidentally skipped 12/18’s post, so we’re doubling up on the 19th)
In my search for a decent Christmas film to watch, I came upon Silent Night, Bloody Night on my Amazon Instant. Catchy name isn’t it? Of course I had to watch it. So why procrastinate? Tonight, this is my movie.
On Christmas Eve in 1950, Wilfred Butler finally returns home after many years. He is mysteriously set on fire and dies, leaving his home to his grandson, Jeffrey. Apparently the place had once been used to house the criminally insane, which they don’t show you until much later. Jeffrey decides to sell the place, as he has no use for it, but the town leaders don’t want anyone going near the place.
A serial killer escapes from a nearby institution and sets up home in the Butler place. Meanwhile, Jeffrey has hired a lawyer to sell his inheritance to the town leaders and this lawyer is staying in the Butler house with his mistress for the night. We know where this is going.
The lawyer is old, unattractive, and boring but he’s obviously rich, explaining how he got a young hot chick as a mistress. Since she’s a ho and he’s and adulterer, they both die. The killer is heavy footed and does nothing to be quiet, so they really deserve everything they get. I’ll just tell you there is an axe involved and a whole lot of blood.
The killer starts making phone calls to draw people to the house, starting with the sheriff and then the phone operator, both of which are trying to buy the house. Jeffrey shows up and finds his house locked so he goes to the mayor’s house for help. Instead of the mayor, he finds the mayor’s daughter who tells him that she keeps getting calls for him from a woman who is waiting inside his house. We then find out that the woman’s name is MaryAnn, the name of Jeffrey’s mother who had been committed to the asylum in the Butler house by her own father.
Ah yes, the story is coming together now. Jeffrey finds his grandfather’s diary, explaining how the inmates turned on the doctors, killing them all and escaping. I won’t ruin the ending in case you plan to watch it but I will tell you that you can see it coming from a mile away.
This is quality early 70’s horror. It has that grainy film and is narrated by the mayor’s daughter’s thoughts and Wilfred Butler’s diary to tell the story instead of just doing it through film or normal dialogue. The town leaders are strange and mysterious, one of whom must have had throat surgery as he sounds like that disembodied voice in The Amityville Horror that yells “GET OUT!” What I would love to know is why everyone who is terrified of this house is so willing to go to it alone after weird phone calls and people going missing. Are they all that stupid?
For the first 30 minutes, I was beyond bored. I kept thinking this was going to be one of those Prom Night movies where nothing happens until the end and it’s just a giant disappointment. I was half right. The only bloody part is when the lawyer and his girlfriend die. Every other death is lame. You don’t really see a whole lot of the murders. It’s more of a shot by shot where you see the people scream and the weapon swinging in the air. I am actually seeing where Black Christmas ripped off of this film two years later with the phone calls from the whispering scratchy voiced male, the escaped lunatic, and people being murdered in the house. Black Christmas, however, is better.
I won’t lie, the script is awful and the acting is worse but it was still more entertaining than Christmas Evil. I won’t be adding it to my Christmas watch list next year but it was worth seeing this once.
I asked around for a good Christmas film to watch tonight and was given a list that included Dead End, a film about a family who takes a short cut on Christmas Eve and everything goes crazy. As I love films that take place in the woods and on back roads, I decided to give this one a chance.
It’s Christmas Eve and Frank (Ray Wise) is driving his family, including the daughter’s boyfriend, to his in-laws house to celebrate. He decides to take the back roads in an attempt to mix things up and stay awake. After several hours, it becomes apparent that they are lost. When Frank sees a woman in white on the side of the road, a possible victim of an accident, he stops to pick her up.
For some reason, beyond my comprehension, the family and her boyfriend, leave Marion, the daughter, to walk so they can make room for the woman in white and her baby. They stop down the road at an abandoned looking shack and the parents go inside to find a phone, leaving Brad, the boyfriend, in the car. While inside, the woman in white reveals to Brad that the baby is dead. They hear a scream and run out to the car to find Brad missing. Marion sees an old black car drive by her with Brad inside. After chasing the car, they find Brad, mutilated, in the road.
Attempted phone calls reveal a woman’s plea for help. The radio only plays the cries of a baby. Whenever the woman in white appears, someone ends up in the old black car and then they are found in the middle of the road. When they enter the woods on one side of the road, they exit on the other. Everything is backwards and unexplainable. They need to find a way off of the road and away from the woman in white before they all die.
From the very start, I knew this movie was going to be funny. All you needed to do was look at the cast. Ray Wise (Twin Peaks, How I Met Your Mother, Psych, Wilfred, and Chillerama) plays the father. The mother is played by Lin Shaye (There’s Something About Mary, Kingpin, Dumb and Dumber). The daughter is Alexandra Holden (Drop Dead Gorgeous, In and Out). The jokes are well placed and subtle, such as Lin Shaye telling her son to drop Brad’s ear because “it’s dirty.” I found myself laughing more than once.
I was highly entertained and there was a decent twist at the end that took me three quarters of the film to figure out. Though this film didn’t have much to do with Christmas itself, I will be adding this to my watch list for next year. I recommend you do the same.