Archive for Christmas Slasher

Silent Night (2012) Review

Posted in Christmas Themed Horror Reviews, Silent Night with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 23, 2012 by Last Road Reviews

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SILENT NIGHT

** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- He Knows Who’s Been Naughty

Release Date- November 30th, 2012

Running Time- 94-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Jayson Rothwell

Director- Steven C. Miller

Starring- Jaime King, Donal Logue, Ellen Wong and Malcolm McDowell as Sheriff Cooper

Silent Night is a loose remake of the cult classic Silent Night, Deadly Night originally released in 1984. Outside of a few homages these two films have nothing in common outside of a killer dressed as Santa and of course the Christmas setting, but the original Silent Night, Deadly Night wasn’t the first horror film set on Christmas nor was it the first to have a killer dressed as Santa. I’m sure most people already know the controversy the original film stirred up, but this isn’t about the original so I’ll refrain from getting into it. The remake won’t stir up the same controversy, actually it won’t have any. But as I stated in the opening the two films have nothing in common and had Silent Night gone under a different title most wouldn’t even link it to the original and if they did it would only be due to the homages. The plot is totally different as are the motives for the killer in each movie.

There was a lot of excitement over the release of Silent Night due to some people hailing the original as one of the great horror films and as much as I enjoyed the film there is no way it’s one of the greats, which is reserved for such movies like Night of the Living Dead and Bride of Frankenstein and others hail Silent Night, Deadly Night as nothing, but vile trash and welcome a remake. As much as I enjoyed the original I have to admit I was looking forward to Silent Night as it had the potential to be a lot of fun, but somewhere along the way the fun I was hoping for ended up being boredom at times.

Set in a small city in Wisconsin, its Christmas Eve and a killer dressed as Santa Claus is on the loose picking off the citizens as the police frantically search for the crazed killer and well that sums up the entire plot. The script by Jayson Rothwell was quite poor and while slasher flicks aren’t know for their writing this was just poor and impacts the movie in a negative way. The characters are lifeless and dull and are better off dead. There is a decent attempt at creating some depth for Aubrey Bradimore (King), but in the end it feels like filler scenes and had they been removed nothing would feel like it were missing. Any scene with the priest was cringe worthy and this was some of the weakest writing.

I know complaining about a screenplay for a slasher movie might sound silly, but the script was quite poor with no real sense of plot and very dull characters. While true most slasher films aren’t know for their plots, but this one feels like it has even less and sure most slasher films have characters that are better off dead, but the characters here were among the weaker ones this type of film has to offer. While there are some decent ideas presented, but Rothwell doesn’t handle them very well and the script again is quite poor and derails any potential Silent Night had. As I stated this film has very little in common with the original and I wouldn’t even consider it a remake.

There are some homages such as garbage day, which gave me a laugh and there is also a scene where a character visits his catatonic grandfather who suddenly snaps out of it and warns of the danger of Christmas Eve, which while a nice homage to the original, but feels really, really out of place and was just there for the sake of it as it adds nothing to the plot unlike the original where it added to the movie. Again I know complaining about a script is a slasher movie might be silly, but the film was poorly plotted with mostly boring and lifeless characters.

Director Steve C. Miller does a nice job, but is given very little to work with. Based on the poor script there really is only so much Miller can do, but to his credit he does deliver a well-made movie with some really cool death scenes. The suspense is a bit light and too many scenes take place during the daytime, which does hinder the movie a bit. The pacing can be a little sluggish, which I think is more due to the script since lack of action hurts the movie since the characters aren’t strong enough to carry the movie. But overall I really didn’t have much of a problem with the direction as a whole, but like I said with the subpar script not much really could be done.

The performances range from weak to good with the leads being the best. Jaime King is excellent in her role and despite not having a lot of depth since her story isn’t explored enough, but King still handles everything well. Ellen Wong steals the show though and the film would have been better served if she had more screen time. Malcolm McDowell like always is a blast as he totally hams it up. Much of his dialogue is silly, but McDowell made it work.

Overall Silent Night has its moments and perhaps I’m being to harsh, but I just thought this was a movie that could have and should have turned out better. Perhaps with a better script it could have. In time I’ll revisit this and see if my opinion has changed and I totally get the appeal the movie had, but for me it just didn’t work.

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Don’t Open Till Christmas (1984) Review

Posted in Christmas Themed Horror Reviews, Don't Open Till Christmas with tags , , , , , on December 9, 2012 by Last Road Reviews

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DON’T OPEN TILL CHRISTMAS

** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- T’was the Night before Christmas, and All Through the House, Not a Creature was Stirring, They Were All Dead

Release Date- December, 1984

Running Time- 86-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Derek Ford

Director- Edmund Purdom

Starring- Edmund Purdom, Alan Lake, Belinda Mayne, Mark Jones, Gerry Sundquist, Kelly Baker, Kevin Lloyd

The 80s was very much the decade of the slasher film and Don’t Open Till Christmas is yet another one trying to cash in on the success of Halloween and Friday the 13th. By 1984 the slasher flick was hitting a bit of decline and I suppose one can say after 1981 the slasher flick started to go down, but there were still enough good ones to keep these films going strong and even after 1984 there were still some good ones, but I think even the most loyal of fans could admit as a whole they just weren’t the same.

Don’t Open Till Christmas has a killer on the loose targeting people dressed as Santa Claus in London and while most of the victims are dressed in Santa suits, but not all. Oddly enough 1-month before this film opened Silent Night, Deadly Night was released and demonized by the public and critics for having a slasher set on Christmas and for having the killer dressed as Santa, but this was actually done before with the setting or killer in the Santa outfit with such films as To All a Goodnight and Christmas Evil, but yet Silent Night, Deadly Night is pulled after two weeks, but nobody batted an eye at the other slasher flicks with a similar idea and nobody commented on Don’t Open Till Christmas.

The film was produced by Stephen Minasian & Dick Randall best known for producing the cult favorite Pieces and Minasian was actually involved with Friday the 13th. With these two guys involved you should know what to expect, but this is one of their weaker efforts. Don’t Open Till Christmas had the right idea, but it’s such a hack job in the end and sometimes that can make the movie more enjoyable, but in this case at times it does have the so bad its good quality and other times it’s simply just so bad its bad.

The screenplay by Derek Ford is a total mess and this mixes the basic slasher flick with the Gialli and truth is there is a thin line between the two; the characters are boring and lifeless even by slasher movie standards and is so poorly plotted you really can’t make much sense out of anything.

Character actor Edmond Purdom who horror fans will know best from his role in Pieces not only has a role in Don’t Open Till Christmas, but he also makes his directorial debut and in a huge shocker he never made another movie. Don’t Open Till Christmas is poorly paced with poor production values; Purdom is unable to create any suspense or any atmosphere and the kill scenes are handled rather poorly with the killer just appearing and killing the victim with no set up and the couple of chase scenes are so boring that you’ll prefer the killer just showing up and dispatching of the victim quickly. However not everything is a total loss since Purdom crafts such a sloppy movie that it can at times be fun and the viewer will get a good laugh or two.

Don’t Open Till Christmas does boast a double digit body count, but the death scenes really aren’t anything special and the gore is at best average. Despite the high body count it really doesn’t feel like there were many since they’re so poorly staged and the pacing is so sloppy, but about 14 kill scenes in 86-minutes helps the movie a little bit. The highlight of the movie was the revelation on why the killer is hunting down people dressed as Santa; it just might be one of the worst motives of the 80s slasher flick.

Caroline Munro who starred in the cult classic Maniac appears in a cameo and one has to wonder how she got mixed up in this movie? My review sure isn’t glowing and my ** ½ star rating isn’t overly high, but as bad as the movie can be and there are times when its downright boring, but it can also be semi-entertaining in how poor it is. If anything it’s sort of fun laughing at the hack job the movie ended up being. The one interesting aspect to the film (yes this is a spoiler, but who really cares?) is the girl who we think will live ends up getting killed and the more promiscuous girl is the one who survives.

Don’t Open Till Christmas surly isn’t one of the better 80s slasher flicks, but it’s not the worst, but it would rate towards the bottom of the pack however. Slasher fans will wanna check this out and will mostly likely find a little something here, but overall everything is rather forgettable.