Despite a few creepy flourishes and the presence of horror-cinema icon John Carradine in a minor role, Silent Night, Bloody Night is more like a lump of coal than a brightly wrapped Christmas present. Not to be confused with the slasher flick Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984), which sparked controversy by featuring a murderer in a Santa Claus costume, Silent Night, Bloody Night is a discombobulated piece about tragedies occurring in a Massachusetts home that once served as an insane asylum. (The title refers to a Christmas Eve murder spree.) Clearly cobbled together during editing from scattershot footage, the picture uses the weak framing device of Diane Adams (Mary Woronov) moping around the central location while delivering somber voiceover about past events, thus triggering extensive flashbacks. According to Diane, the trouble began in 1950 when a man named Wilfred Butler died at the home. Amid questions about whether his demise was an accident or suicide, survivors honored Wilfred’s wish that the house remain abandoned. Thus, when Wilfred’s grandson Jeffrey (James Patterson) hires lawyer John Carter (Patrick O’Neal) to arrange the sale of the house, those tampering with Wilfred’s wishes meet the business end of an axe. Silent Night, Bloody Night takes quite a while to get going, and long stretches of dull conversation elapse between fright scenes. Worse, the slapped-together structure of the piece ensures confusion and tedium, problems compounded by indifferent acting and muddy photography. Some minor historical interest stems from the presence of actors with Andy Warhol associations (including Woronov), while pretty starlets including Astrid Heeren provide eye candy. However, if there’s anything genuinely interesting or unique about Silent Night, Bloody Night, it’s buried beneath lots of superficial atmospherics, and obscured by needlessly befuddling plot machinations.
Silent Night, Bloody Night: LAME