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Silent Night, Deadly Night is a series of slasher (and later outright horror) films. The series began in The Eighties during the slasher movie boom started by Halloween and Friday the 13th and, like those two series, centered around a holiday - in this case, Christmas. Despite there being several Christmas-themed horror films released before the original Silent Night, Deadly Night was the one that caused the Moral Guardians to froth at the mouth in rage over the film depicting Santa Claus as a villain. The film was pulled from theatres quickly, but found a cult following on home video and was followed by four sequels.
But let's face it, you're only here because of the Garbage Day scene.
A brief synopsis of all five films:
Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
He knows when you've been naughty!
On the way home from visiting his institutionalized grandfather (who warns him that Santa punishes naughty children severely) little Billy Chapman witnesses his father being shot to death by a drunken criminal dressed as Santa, who kills Mrs. Chapman by slitting her throat after trying to rape her moments later. Placed in an abusive orphanage with his younger brother Billy has puritanical morals drilled into him by the tyrannical mother superior. Growing up Billy eventually gets a job at a toy store but, when the Christmas season comes roaring in, he ultimately snaps and believing himself to be jolly old Saint Nick goes around murdering people he deems naughty (essentially everyone).
Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (1987)
Consisting of about fifty percent flashbacks to the original film the sequel follows Billy's brother Richard "Ricky"... Caldwell, who followed in his sibling's footsteps and grew up to be a psychotic murderer. After going on a rampage Ricky winds up in an institution, where he tells his story to a psychiatrist named Doctor Henry Bloom. Narm and Hilarity Ensues.
Silent Night, Deadly Night III: Better Watch Out! (1989)
When your nightmare ends, the real terror begins!
Awakening from a coma due to forming a mental link with a blind psychic girl Ricky (who has snazzy clear dome replacing the top of his head, exposing his brain and its fluids) becomes obsessed with the girl and stalks her as she heads to her grandmother's house for the holidays, killing everyone in his way. On Ricky's trail are his slightly mad doctor and a high ranking law enforcement official.
Initiation: Silent Night, Deadly Night 4 (1990)
And if I die before I wake, thank you.
When the series essentially goes Off the Rails, with this installment being completely unrelated to the previous three while having almost nothing to do with Christmas. After a woman bursts into flames in the midst of jumping off a building wannabe investigative reporter Kim Levitt looks into what caused her death, encountering a Straw Feminist cult and freaking huge insects during her search. Called Bugs in some releases.
Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker (1991)
He's home... but he's not alone.
Loosely connected to the previous film this one gets more into the holiday spirit, featuring toys that kill. After the mysterious death of her husband a woman, her son and her former lover begin investigating the toys produced by an enigmatic toymaker named Joe Petto and his son Pino. Mickey Rooney portrays Joe, despite being one of the most vocal haters of the original film; he probably needed the work and plays a mean, scary drunk surprisingly well.
Silent Night (2012)
A loose remake of the original. Just before Christmas, a small town is plagued by murder committed by a Santa, who kills whoever he finds guilty. The film stars Jamie King, Donal Logue, and Malcolm McDowell.
Some Very naughty tropes apply to the series:
- Abusive Parents: The drunk Joe Petto's habit of smacking his son Pino around in The Toy Maker (occasionally killing him and rebuilding him later).
- Accidental Murder: In the first film Officer Barnes shoots a man in a Santa suit he thought was Billy when the Santa fails to back off from the orphanage children when Barnes yells at him too. Turns out the Santa was Father O'Brien, who was deaf.
- All Just a Dream: Used at least once by every film in the series, but Better Watch Out! seems particularly fond of this trope, giving us three dream sequences in the first fifteen minutes alone.
- Affably Evil: Janice from Initiation.
Janice: "You look wonderful! Welcome to the family! Now, you have to bring us the boy..."
- Ascended Meme: The "Garbage Day!" line has appeared on the covers of some of the DVD releases of Part 2.
- It appears on the trailer too.
- Asshole Victim: Plenty of them in Part 2.
- Hank's father in Initiation.
- Attempted Rape: SO. MUCH.
- Attack of the 50 Foot Whatever: The gigantic cockroach from Initiation.
- An Axe to Grind: Billy's main weapon. Ricky also uses one to kill Mother Superior in Part 2.
- Noah and Sarah use one to attack Pino in The Toy Maker.
- Bad Santa: Too many to count. Billy, Ricky, and the robber are all very dangerous.
- Barrier-Busting Blow: Ricky punching through a door to grab Jerri in Better Watch Out!.
- Berserk Button: The color red sets off Ricky's murderous urges in Better Watch Out! (and maybe Part 2).
- Big Creepy-Crawlies: The larvae and cockroaches in Initiation.
- Big Ol' Eyebrows: Ricky (and to a lesser extent Chip's) crazy, fluttery eyebrows from Part 2.
- Blind Seer: Laura of Better Watch Out!
- Bloodless Carnage: Better Watch Out! borders on this; most of the death occur offscreen, with only the aftermath being shown. The deaths that are directly shown are fairly tame.
- Body Horror: In Better Watch Out!, due to damage to his head, Ricky has a transparent dome which exposes his brain and its fluids in place of a skullcap.
- Initiation is full of this, featuring stuff like a larva crawling into Kim through the belly button and emerging from her mouth as a giant cockroach.
- Bottomless Magazines: Surprisingly enough, Part 2 averts this - Ricky uses one bullet to kill the cop, one to kill a random bystander, one in the "Garbage Day" sequence, three to take out a car, then when he goes to commit suicide on being confronted by the cops, discovers that his revolver is out of ammo.
- Car Fu
- Cassandra Truth: In Initiation, the cult covers its tracks ridiculously well and make Kim look crazy.
- Catch Phrase: When Billy kills someone, he yells "Punish!"
- Also used by Ricky a few times in Part 2, though most of the time he says "naughty".
- Clean Cut
- Contrived Coincidence: In Initiation, Kim's one female co-worker just happens to be in the same cult Kim is investigating.
- Creator Cameo: The director of Part 2 plays one of Ricky's victims in the "Garbage Day" sequence, and the film's cinematographer later pops up as a charity collector who Ricky kills for his Santa outfit. Likewise, director Monte Hellman plays the poor fool that wakes up Ricky (and gets killed for his trouble) in Better Watch Out.
- Curiosity Killed the Cast
- Death by Sex: Denise and Tommy in the first film, Jerri and possibly Chris in Better Watch Out!, plus Meredith and Buck in The Toy Maker (though the former survives the toy attack).
- Averted by Kim in the fourth film; the very first time we see her she's having sex with her boyfriend, but they both survive the film.
- Demoted to Extra: Ricky by the end of the series.
- Determinator: Ricky gets shot several times at the end of Part 2. And
survivesdoesn't even flinch until another officer tries shooting him with a shotgun, which finally knocks him down.
- Developing Doomed Characters
- Dolled-Up Installment: Initiation was originally written as a pseudo-sequel to Society, according to various reports, but turned into the fourth Silent Night, Deadly Night film to secure funding.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: When Kim gets the bug juice dripped on her face in Initiation it pretty much looks like she's been facialized.
- Plus there's the mask Ricky wears during Kim's introductory ceremony. It's flesh colored and has a really, really long nose...
- Drop the Hammer: Billy stabs Mr. Sims in the head with a claw hammer in Silent Night, Deadly Night.
- Pino tries to kill Noah with one The Toy Maker.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Ricky at the end of Better Watch Out! - Laura holds out a sharpened stick, and Ricky trips over and fatally impales himself on it.
- Dull Surprise: Samantha Scully in Better Watch Out! Granted, she's playing a character whose blind, but still...
- In the same film there's a scene where Ricky punches through a door to attack Jerri. As his girlfriend is being throttled Chris says "Holy shit!" in a really, really subdued manner.
- Oddly-Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo
- Even Evil Has Standards: Both Billy and Ricky are confronted with a young child in the middle of their respective rampages. Those children are the only people who get to live.
- Every Car Is a Pinto: Ricky causes a car to blow up in Part 2 by shooting it in the grill.
- In The Toy Maker a car (that's not even going that fast) flips over and explodes spectacularly.
- Evil Laugh: Ricky during his shooting spree in Part 2.
- Eye Scream: In The Toy Maker a larva toy crawls into a guy's mouth and bursts out of his eye while he's driving.
- Chip's eyes (and sunglasses) explode while he's being electrocuted by Ricky in Part 2.
- Eyes Open: In the ending of Part 2.
- Final Girl: Laura Anderson in Better Watch Out!. Something of a subversion though she's seen drinking alcohol and is shown to have quite a bitchy personality, either of which is usually a death sentence in a slasher film.
- Fan Disservice: All the female victims (apart from Mrs. Randall) die topless in the first film.
- Not to mention the babysitter in the first movie could seriously use a sandwich or a hundred.
- Fingore: Kim's fingers start curling up and fusing together a few times in Initiation.
- Flashback Nightmare: Billy suffers from these as a kid.
- For the Evulz: Presumably Grandpa Chapman's reason for traumatizing Billy. It got him on I-Mockery's "Favorite Christmas Movie Assholes" list.
- Gory Discretion Shot: Mr. Sims being stabbed in the head with a claw hammer in the first film, and the hospital receptionist getting knifed in Better Watch Out!
- Grievous Bottley Harm: While drunk Joe smashes his son Pino with a bottle in The Toy Maker.
- Groin Attack: Tommy manages to kick Billy in the crotch while they're fighting in the first film.
- Gun Twirling: Done by Ricky after he shoots the guy taking out his trash in Part 2.
- Half the Man He Used To Be: Sarah cuts Pino in half with an axe in The Toy Maker. Being a robot he still keeps coming.
- Hard Work Montage: Happens when Billy's working at the toy store in the first film.
- Harmful to Minors: Billy witnessing the deaths of his parents.
- Heroic Sacrifice: For no real reason cult servant Ricky tries to defend Kim near the end of Initiation. He gets knifed and eaten by giant larvae for his efforts.
- Hollywood Nuns
- Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday
- I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: Right after Ricky kills Chip and Jennifer in Part 2 an obviously rookie cop tries to arrest him, wielding his gun in a really impractical manner which winds up resulting in his death.
- Infant Immortality
- In Silent Night, Deadly Night while the Santa criminal goes looking for Billy after killing the Chapman parents he doesn't bother with baby Ricky, whose crying in the car. Billy at first looks like he's going to kill Cindy, but leaves her alone when she claims she was good all year.
- In Part 2 during his shooting spree Ricky is bumped into by a little girl on a bike. He accepts her apology and moves on to kill more people.
- The cult tries to force Kim into killing Lonnie in Initiation. While she does abduct him, she stops short of killing him at the last minute and saves him.
- The Toy Maker has Lonnie putting on a pair of rigged roller skates which rocket him full speed into a car. At first it looks like he died, but turns out he's just horribly mangled...
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice
- Denise being impaled on the antlers of a mounted deer head in Silent Night, Deadly Night.
- Rocco getting impaled with an old umbrella (which pops open right before it rains) in Part 2.
- Ricky getting a broken stick driven through his body at the end of Better Watch Out!
- Tom falling onto a fireplace poker (which goes through his face and out the back of his head) while being choked by the Santa toy in The Toy Maker.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: In Initiation a guy watching a news report about a woman who burst into flames before falling off a building remarks "She was a hot one". And there's the whole Joe Petto and Pino thing from The Toy Maker.
- In Name Only: Initiation and The Toy Maker.
- Ironic Nursery Tune: Various.
- Jerkass: Andy in Silent Night, Deadly Night.
- Jerk Jock: Chip in Part 2.
- Just a Machine: Joe Petto beat his creation Pino in The Toy Maker, claiming he could never love him "like a real son". At the end of the movie the barely functioning Pino grabs Sarah's leg and she starts frantically stomping his head into bits and pieces of machinery. She's stopped by her son Derek, who says "Its just a toy, mommy."
- Karma Houdini: The guy who killed the store clerk and the Chapman parents, plus Mother Superior. At least until the sequel.
- Knife Nut: Ricky in Better Watch Out!.
- Large Ham: Ricky in Part 2.
- Leave the Camera Running: Early in Better Watch Out! there's a sequence where Laura spends the better part of three minutes sitting around in the hospital waiting room, doing absolutely nothing. When she gets up though, she finds out that the receptionist has been hacked to death by Ricky.
- Living Toys: Pino's creations from The Toy Maker.
- Loud Gulp: Ricky's girlfriend gives out one when he goes after her in Part 2.
- Market-Based Title: The first two films were unable to get any real release outside of North America for various reasons, including foreign censorship standards and the controversy that the first film had caused. Hence, Better Watch Out! became Blind Terror for its international release, Initiation became Bugs, and The Toy Maker had the "Silent Night, Deadly Night" part dropped from its name.
- Milkman Conspiracy: Initiation.
- Mind Screw: The whole plot of Initiation.
- Money, Dear Boy: Come on, is there really any other reason why Mickey Rooney would have played the villain in The Toy Maker after leading protests against the original film?
- Also the reason why Monte Hellman agreed to direct Better Watch Out! -- he had suffered a serious illness after shooting his previous film, and needed some money to pay his medical bills.
- My Little Panzer: The superhero toy and remote control plane from The Toy Maker.
- Name's the Same: There are also two other Christmas-themed horror films called Silent Night, Bloody Night and Silent Night, Evil Night (latter being the alternative title for Black Christmas).
- The Ricky of the first three films, and the one from Initiation and The Toy Maker.
- Nonchalant Dodge: In Part 2 to avoid an out of control car barreling down on him Ricky simply does a tiny little sidestep.
- The Nth Doctor: Mother Superior is played by a different actress in Part 2. To hide this its mentioned she had a stroke, which horribly disfigured her face somehow.
- Number of the Beast: Mother Superior's home address.
- Off with His Head
- Mac (who gets his head chopped off while sledding) in Silent Night, Deadly Night.
- Mother Superior (who has her head put back on her body afterward) in Part 2.
- Craig in Better Watch Out!.
- The Other Darrin: Lieutenant Connelly from Better Watch Out! is apparently supposed to be the unnamed lieutenant who shot Ricky down at the end of Part 2, despite looking and sounding nothing like the guy.
- Let's not forget Ricky himself - Eric Freeman was technically already another Darrin for the child actor that played him in the first film, and he in turn was replaced by Bill Moseley for the third film.
- The Other Marty: Part 2 reshot some of the sequences that Ricky had appeared in during the first film, since the actor that originally played him was too old to reprise the part. Unfortunately they didn't do a very good job of it, with the result that the actor playing the young Ricky often changes in the middle of a scene.
- Our Zombies Are Different: The Ricky of Better Watch Out! is close enough for this to apply.
- Pet the Dog: The scene between Billy and Cindy in the first film. Sure, he gives her a bloody box cutter as a gift but the look on both their faces (beaming joy and utter befuddlement) is priceless.
- Police Are Useless: Captain Richards does take Billy down in the first film, though.
- Likewise, the cops shoot down Ricky at the end of Part 2 before he can attack Sister Mary.
- Primal Scene: The beginning of The Toy Maker.
- Prop Recycling: Larry the Larvae from The Toy Maker seems to be one of the larvae props from Initiation, with googly eyes stuck on it.
- Psycho Lesbian: Fima from Initiation.
- Psychic Powers: Laura Anderson from Better Watch Out!
- Revolvers Are Just Better
- Robotic Reveal: The end of The Toy Maker when Pino reveals he was created by Joe to replace his dead son.
- Scary Black Man: The orderly from the hospital in Part 2. He doesn't really say much, but has a rather mean Death Glare.
- Sequel Hook: End of the first film.
- Serial Killer: Billy and Ricky (though the latter quickly devolved).
- Series Continuity Error: In the first film, a priest in a Santa suit is mistaken for the killer and is fatally shot after he failed to follow a cop's order to freeze. It turns out he was deaf. But in the sequel, it's said that the deaf man who was shot dead was the janitor at the orphanage. While the film-makers don't explicitly say why they made this change, they imply on the DVD commentary that they were uneasy about the thought of killing a priest. Killing a nun is apparently just fine and dandy, though.
- Spontaneous Human Combustion: Featured twice in Initiation.
- Stay in the Kitchen: This is the attitude of Hank's father in Initiation.
- Stealth Hi Bye: Ricky in the theatre in Part 2.
- Straw Feminist: The cult in Initiation is made up of these.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Sister Mary in Part 2 is meant to fulfil the same role as Sister Margaret in the first film. Considering the film's rather... loose attitude towards casting, it seems unusual that they didn't just try to pass off the new actress as Sister Margaret.
- That Makes Me Feel Angry: After somehow getting his axe stuck in a wheelchair seat in the climax of Part 2, Ricky shouts "I'm REALLY mad now!" Arguably justified somewhat, since Ricky is such a nutcase that you can sorta imagine him saying something like that.
- That Man Is Dead: A variation: After being mortally wounded, Billy tries to comfort the children around him the only way he knows how - by reassuring them that Santa Claus isn't going to haunt anyone anymore. Given Billy's "upbringing" with Mother Superior's Knight Templar brand of morality, this comes out also as an other kind of epithat.
- Timeshifted Actor: Happens in a really odd way in Part 2, as the actor playing the teenaged Ricky is actually several years older than Eric Freeman in real-life.
- Too Dumb to Live: Many examples; this is a slasher series, after all. Perhaps the most blatant is Jennifer in Part 2, after Ricky fries Chip with a car battery charger. Instead of running for help, she grabs hold of him, starts screaming that he's crazy, and repeatedly shouts "I hate you, Ricky!" Naturally, this doesn't end well.
- Trailers Always Spoil: The Toymaker's trailer spoils the Robotic Reveal.
- Trampled Underfoot: Shown when Ricky closes in on Mother Superior's house in Part 2.
- Unexplained Recovery: Clint Howard's Ricky obviously dies in Initiation, yet returns briefly as a mall Santa in The Toy Maker (though this could be another instance of Name's the Same).
- Ungrateful Bitch: Billy saves Pamela from being brutally raped in the first film. She freaks out and calls him a crazy bastard before punching him in the face. Granted, Billy had gone perhaps a bit further in stopping the attempted rapist than Pamela really wanted him to, but still...
- Inverted in Part 2. Ricky happens on a near-identical situation and flattens the attempted rapist with his own car, and this time the girl seems really pleased about Ricky's actions.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Ricky's brain dome in Better Watch Out!
- Verb This: Ricky's Pre-Mortem One-Liner to Mother Superior when she tells him that he's being naughty is "Naughty THIS!"
- Villain Protagonist: Billy and Ricky.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Both Billy and Mother Superior. Despite their rather... extreme methods, they both seem to genuinely believe that they're doing the right thing. Less so in Ricky's case -- initially he seems to be pursuing a form of vigilante justice, but by the time of "Garbage Day" it's clear that he's just killing people for the hell of it.*
people were not happy about Santa being a killer. Despite the fact that there were a few horror themed christmas movies before this one.