Horror Movie Review: Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972)

What on earth is Silent Night, Bloody Night? What an absolute car-crash of a movie. One that’s chooses an artsy visual style over coherent story-telling. Be advised, if you’re planning to watch this movie then you better pay attention. Of course, seeing it won’t be a problem as the film was never registered with the United States Copyright Office so fell into the public domain.

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Directed by Theodore Gershuny, starring Patrick O’Neal and Mary Woronov, Silent Night, Bloody Night was released in 1972. It originally went under the name of Night of the Dark Full Moon and was also retitled as Death House later on. Still, most know it under the Silent Night, Bloody Night name as this helps tie it into Christmas.

The other important tie is that it is set on Christmas Eve over two different time periods. The first is 1950 and part of the opening. As we see a man named Wilfred Butler die in a fiery ball of flames as he runs out of his mansion. His death is considered to be accidental and the house is left to his grandson Jeffery.

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20 years later, once again on Christmas Eve, the house is now up for sale. John Carter (Patrick O’Neal) is the lawyer tasked with arranging it. After agreeing a price with the town’s leading citizens in a very long scene he spends the night at the Butler mansion with his mistress, Ingrid (Astrid Heeren). They’re not alone though and both end up dead at the hands of an axe-wielding killer.

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All very slasher…however, the killer calls the sheriff afterwards and tells him to come to house to investigate. As the night goes on, more people come to the house for a variety of reasons and all end up dead. The only ones who don’t and start to unravel the story behind the murders and house is Jeffrey Butler himself (James Patterson) and Diane Adams (Mary Woronov). Just who is the killer and how does it relate to the history of the Butler mansion?

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Piecing together the misshapen plot of Silent Night, Bloody Night could fill a few pages and the above is the seriously abridged version. The movie is packed with characters and sub-plots that tangle and weave their way around the main narrative. That is as simple as a slasher can be…killer kills and isn’t revealed until the finale.

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It’s not that Silent Night, Bloody Night handles this poorly or anything. In fact, as slasher go it has got some thrilling moments. The body count is high but it misses the mark thanks to the low-budget and poor visual quality. It’s either two dark or going for an abstract style of filming that is overly distracting. It’s moody but not in a positive way. Coupled with the lethargic pacing, it starts to feel like a chore way before the big twist ending.


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Silent Night, Bloody Night
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