Silent Night, Deadly Night
Title: Silent Night, Deadly Night
Year Of Release: 1984
Running Time: 85 Minutes (uncut version)
DVD Released By: Anchor Bay
Directed By: Charles E. Sellier Jr.
Writing Credits: Paul Caimi (story), Michael Hickey (writer)
Starring: Lilyan Chauvin, Gilmer McCormick, Toni Nero, Robert Brian Wilson, Linnea Quigley
1. You've made it through Halloween, now try and survive Christmas
2. Santa's Here!
3. He knows when you've been naughty.
4. Slashing through the snow…looking for his prey!
Slayride (working title)
Review Date: 7.20.08 (updated 12.10.11)
Shadow's Title: "Scary Christmas"
Buy This film From Amazon
Billy Chapman (age 5) – This is our main character when he was an annoying, shrill-voiced little puke. Then again, I've yet to meet a five year old that didn't fit that description to a T. All he does is ask endless questions, make selfish remarks and drives people nuts by not shutting the hell up.
Grandpa Chapman - Gramps here resides in a mental institution, though the film never reveals why he ended up there. He now spends all his days in a catatonic state, staring off into space and not moving a muscle. My guess is he caught a glimpse of Bea Arthur naked.
Jim Chapman – This is Billy and Ricky’s dad. He really doesn’t have much of a part in the film. Given his familial obligations, and I wonder if the poor bastard wished that HE was the one confined to a mental instituion. At least then he'd get a break from Billy's nonstop blabbering.
Ellie Chapman – This poor woman would be Billy’s mother. Like her husband, she does not have a big part in the movie, but her death profoundly impacts her young son. Memories of her violent demise contribute to adult Billy's mental instability and subsquent murder spree.
Killer Santa – This is the one truly unsympathetic and flat out evil character in the entire movie. After murdering a convenince store clerk, car trouble puts him in the path of the unfortunate Chapman family. Mom and dad end up dead and the kids in an orphanage thanks to this waste of skin.
Billy Chapman (age 8) – This is Billy after spending three years in an orphanage. Time has not been kind to the poor bugger. His hair has gone to hell and his face has literally exploded in freckles. By this age, Billy has developed an intense dislike for Christmas.
Sister Margaret – One of the nuns who works at Saint Mary’s Home for Orphaned children. Seems to be the only one who really gives a rat’s ass about poor Billy and wants to truly help him. She understands that he has been through a hellish ordeal that has left significant scars on his psyche.
Mother Superior – The old bitch that runs Saint Mary’s Home for Orphaned Children. With her cold, insensitive attitude and unorthodox child raising techniques, the place really ought to be called Saint Mary’s Home for Emotionally and Mentally Ruined Children.
Billy Chapman (age 18) – Billy when he has finally grown up and lands a job at a toy store. All is good for a while, but when he's forced to wear a Santa suit at Christmas, he snaps and carries out what he thinks are Santa's duties: punishing bad people...and he sees them everywhere.
Mr. Sims – The owner of the toy store where Billy gets a job. According to Andy, one of his employees, Sims was supposed to be a real hard ass. Well, if his behavior is indicative of what passes for a hard ass in that town, then my boss would be looked upon as Satan himself.
Mrs. Randall – This annoying woman works at the toy store. What it is she does there is a mystery. Cashier? Nope. Store room worker? Nope. Accounting and payroll? Perhaps. What she is good at is calling out "Mr. Sims" constantly. She's so annoying, I'm suprirsed no one killed her before now.
Andy – This colossal buttwipe is one of Billy’s coworkers. He sits on his ass all day while others are doing all the hard work. Then he acts like he's doing people a favor by looking out for them and not reporting bad behavior. He would call this “supervising.” I’d call it Being An Asshole 101.
Pamela – Another one of Billy’s coworkers. She's friendly with Billy and he begins fantasizing about her. Of course, like so many women, she bypasses the good guy for the closest bad boy. Why be with someone who will respect you when you can be with a guy who will try to rape you?
Officer Barnes – Here we have a real idiot. Really, this guy makes your average village idiot look like a rocket scientist. He was so gung ho when learning of a killer Santa on the loose, he gunned down the first one he sees. Too bad it was an innocent priest with hearing problems.
Captain Richards – He looked like he was ready for retirement. Either that or a nice whiskey-Ambien cocktail. After the massacre at the toy store, Captain Richards is the cop tasked with the job of locating and capturing Billy. He's also the moron that told Officer Barnes to shoot to kill.
Ricky Chapman – This little pipsqueak is Billy’s younger brother, who was just a wee baby on the night their parents met their tragic end. Like Billy, Ricky grows up at Saint Mary’s Home for Orphaned children, but unlike his brother, Ricky has no problems of any kind with Christmas.
Denise – Linnea Quigley! Once you know the name of the actress, the only further thing you really need to know is just how naked she gets in the film. Of the five minutes that she is in the movie, she only spends one of them with her boobs covered! That's a good ratio if ya ask me!
Plot Hold your cursor over an image for
a pop-up caption
The first thing we see is a black screen, accompanied by the sound of some kid singing a holiday song. Ugh. We’re only eight seconds into this film and already I am making my preparation for Seppukku. Bad singing is already something that makes me want to throw myself in front of a moving train, but bad singing from some annoying, snot-nosed kid? I don’t even think Satan himself hauls that one out for the super duper bad folks who end up in Hell’s ninth plane. On to this field of black appears something small, but which rapidly grows larger, as if it were rushing at the camera like that aforementioned train (one can only hope). Alas, it’s a festive wreath, with the words Silent Night superimposed over it. I’m sorry, in order for those words to have any ring of truth, somebody needs to shut that damn kid up!
Well, it seems somebody was listening. The kid ceases his or her auditory assault when a huge splash of blood (the visual FX type, not the real stuff…yet) appears on the screen and a much more ominous musical cue takes over. Since the splashing of blood coincided with the kid shutting up, one might think he just got splattered by that train we were talking about. Perhaps the wreath we see is like the ones you see on the grill of a big rig truck and the reason it was growing so large a second ago is because the truck was barreling down on the unseen singing kid. SPLAT! No more singing! I suppose all that is quite a bit to get out a opening title shot that lasts all of twenty seconds.
So the blood drains away and the words Deadly Night are left in red, giving us our full title: Silent Night, Deadly Night. The wreath and title then fade away and we get the opening credits as white text on the black background. After those are over (taking note of the name Linnea Quigley amongst the actors, which virtually guarantees that we’ll be seeing some bare boobs), we fade in on a station wagon as it travels down a road out in the middle of nowhere. Snowy mountains can be seen in the distance, so we know this is not Florida in July. Text now appearing on screen informs us of the time frame, at least: Christmas Eve, 1971. That would make Lil Shadow (in other words, me as a kid) almost three years of age.
The vehicle belongs to the Chapman family: Jim the dad, Ellie the mom, little Billy the whiner and baby Ricky the pooper. As the car rolls down the road with the radio on, eight-year old Billy sits in the back seat, perusing a book entitled The Night Before Christmas. We watch the car continue down the road, passing through some small community. The radio is airing some seasonal music and Ellie smiles at her husband as they travel. It’s almost a moment straight from sappy Hallmark commercial. Almost. Note that mom is holding baby Ricky on her lap. I bet he’s pooped up a storm in his diapers. All babies do. The poor thing isn’t even in a car seat, but in her lap. I sure hope dad doesn’t have to suddenly apply the brakes, otherwise there might be a baby flying through the windshield, poop-filled diapers and all. Of course, in today’s world, car seats for small children are mandatory and those who don’t use them face stiff fines as well as accusations of child neglect or abuse. Back in 1971 (or 1984 when this film was made), it seems no one gave a rat’s ass about babies.
While looking at his book, Billy asks his mother what time it is. Upon hearing that it is almost 4:30 and that they should be at Grandpa’s very soon, Billy then asks what time Santa Claus will be dropping by the house. Mom tells him that Santa only shows up after everyone is asleep in bed. Billy wants to stay up and see Santa, but his mother reminds him that it is naughty to stay up past one’s bedtime and that Santa Claus doesn’t bring presents to naughty kids. As she talks, good old dad just smiles. Billy is worried that they won’t get home that night until after his bedtime, but his mom assures him that there is nothing to worry about. They’ll get home in plenty of time and Santa will have a big surprise for him (I’ll say). That seems to appease the little bastard for now. Billy just smiles, no doubt at the thought of potential presents with his name on them.
We get a few more shots of the car traveling down the road, and we can see that the day is coming to an end, the sunlight beginning to fade. The family then arrives at their destination: Grandpa’s home. Sadly, Grandpa doesn’t live in a nice house with a picket fence. Nope, it seems Gramps lives at the Utah Mental Facility. Apparently, Gramps is certifiable.
Next we see the Chapmans within the facility, being led down a hallway by one of the resident doctors. He informs Mr. Chapman that his father has been brought to the recreation room. Then he leads them onward. The group enters the rec room and we see Grandpa, sitting in a chair and staring off into space. Jim talks to his dad, but gets no response from the old fart. Ellie tries next, but cannot provoke any sort of reaction in the old guy, either (maybe if she flashed her boobs or something). Grandpa just continues to sit there, a study in catalepsy. I’ve seen more life at a mime convention. Seriously, the old coot just sits there with a vacant look etched on his face, like he was engrossed in an episode of Hypnotoad.
Billy pipes in and tactlessly asks why Grandpa doesn’t talk. His mom explains to him that Gramps can’t hear them and doesn’t even know that they are there. Billy now says the exact same thing that I would have said under such conditions. “Then why did we come for?” he asks with his shrill voice. His mom just says his name as way of rebuke. The Doctor mentions Grandpa’s records and suggests going to his office to review them. Mom tells Billy to wait by Grandpa while she and Dad go with the doctor. Billy momentarily has this look on his face like, “Oh shit! Don’t leave me with this creepy old dude,” but his mom assures him that Grandpa won’t hurt him. Then she (while holding the pooping baby), Dad and the Doctor head to his office, which is just a few feet away.
Alone now with Gramps, Billy looks at the old guy. Slowly, Grandpa’s eyes turn and look at Billy. “Grandpa?” Billy asks. The old guy smiles, which causes Billy to call for his mom, but he is stopped by Gramps. The old fart looks at Billy and says that his mom cannot help him. In fact, no one can. He sees that Billy is afraid and says that the little puke has good reason to feel so, since “Christmas Eve is the scariest damn night of the year.” Personally, I always felt that description was better suited to April 15th, but that is just me. Grandpa looks at Billy and asks him if he knows what happens on Christmas Eve and if he knows all about Santa Claus. Billy nods and says that Santa brings presents to all the boys and girls. Grandpa laughs and explains that Santa only does this for the kids that have been good all year. As for all the others – the naughty ones – Santa punishes them (my guess is by placing Yanni albums rather than toys under their trees).
Grandpa now asks little Billy if he has been good all year. Reluctantly and somewhat sheepishly, Billy shakes his head no. Grandpa then laughs again and warns the poor little bastard to run for his life if he should see Santa Claus that night. Gramps laughs some more while Billy stands there soiling his underwear. Ok, the kid didn’t crap his pants right then and there, but he’s a kid! He’ll do it sooner or later. The door to the Doctor’s office opens and hearing the return of Billy’s folks, Grandpa lapses back into his catatonic state. Jim kneels by his father and says that they have to go, but they will return to see him soon. Then, telling Billy it’s time to go, mom and dad head for the exit. Billy lingers a few seconds and before running off, whispers to Grandpa that he promises to be good from now on.
Night has now fallen and we see the family station wagon driving down the road. Inside, mom is leaned over in her seat, half asleep while dad drives. In the back seat, Billy looks worried. He asks his mother if she was ever naughty when she was child. “Once or twice” is the answer. Then Billy asks if Santa Claus ever punished her. Now wide awake, she asks where he got such an idea. Billy explains that he heard if from Grandpa and that good old Gramps told him that Santa was out to punish him. Billy’s parents now wonder if Grandpa could have really spoken to Billy. Mom doesn’t see why Billy would lie and wonders if they shouldn’t call Grandpa’s doctor.
Billy now pipes in with his shrill and annoying voice and announces that he doesn’t want “him” to come. When his mom asks whom he is referring to, he says Santa and adds that he is scared. He repeats that according to Grandpa, Santa Claus is out to punish him. Mom tells him to calm down (and is probably considering the magic of Ritalin at this stage) and says that Grandpa is a crazy old fool. This statement elicits a surprised gasp from Billy, who tells his mother she should not have said that, as it is naughty to say bad things about old people and that Santa Claus will punish her. Mom just looks at her husband in exasperation, not knowing what to do about Billy’s sudden belief that Santa is one bad dude.
We now cut over to a convenience store somewhere. The clerk is leaning on the counter, looking over a magazine when in comes a guy in a Santa Claus costume. I was almost expecting it to be Randall from the video place next door. The clerk makes some comment about the guy’s suit and tries to make some small talk. He bags up the smokes Santa had put on the counter and asks what charity the guy is with. Santa answers by producing a handgun and leveling it at the clerk, who asks Santa why he did that. “I’m holding you up, asshole,” is the simple answer. Santa tells him to put the register’s cash into the paper bag along with the smokes. Raise your hand if you think the clerk is going to try something stupid. Yep, I think so, too.
Sure enough, the clerk reaches for a pistol of his own that he has hidden under the counter. He tries to distract Santa with some pointless banter and then yanks out his pistol. Unfortunately, the moron made several mistakes:
He reached under the counter and not for the register. It was obvious
he was going for a weapon. Moron.
Naturally, the Santa robber has much quicker reflexes and shoots the clerk before the dolt can even get his gun fully leveled. The clerk falls over backwards with a crash, knocking over a display of potato chips as he hits the floor. Meanwhile, Santa reaches over the counter and begins to remove the cash from the register. Not content with being shot, seeing the register emptied and dealing with smashed chips, the clerk struggles to raise his gun at the robber. Santa sees this of course, aims his own weapon and fires off another shot. POW. Another bullet to the gut. The clerk falls back to the floor, but Santa isn’t done. POW. A third shot is fired and this one goes right through the clerk’s forehead. At this point, I think he’s dead. Ok, he is dead. Santa leaves the store and seeing that all he got for his trouble was thirty-one dollars, mutters “merry fucking Christmas,” before getting in his 1970-71 Monte Carlo and roaring away into the night.
We now return to the Chapman family as they head home after visiting wacky Grandpa in the mental facility. Mom and Billy are asleep. Dad drives while listening to horrid Christmas music over the radio. Baby Ricky just looks around and poops some more. Mom wakes up and asks about their status. He tells her that they have a ways to go yet before reaching home. Then mom thinks she sees something up ahead. Sure enough, there is something in the road again. It’s a red car with its hood up. It seems somebody has had car trouble. In fact, the driver is standing beside his car and he just happens to be wearing a Santa suit. Theorizing that this guy was on his way to a party when his car crapped out on him, Dad wonders if they should wake up Billy.
Too late! Billy wakes up and upon seeing Santa Claus in the road up ahead, coupled with his newly formed ideas about Santa out to punish him, the little squirt starts to freak out worse than those poor kids that are forced by their parents to sit on the laps of mall Santas. Billy tells his dad to keep going and not stop, but dad, being the kind hearted person he is, stops anyway. Santa walks over to the car and as he approaches we see that it’s the same Santa that just held up the convenience store and turned the clerk into Swiss cheese. Oh, snap!
Dad asks Santa if he needs a ride, but Santa says no, and that he just ran into a little bit of lousy luck. With that he produces his gun and aims it into the car. Mom freaks out and starts screaming. Dad throws the car into reverse and slams his foot down on the gas. The car hurtles backwards, but Santa is able to squeeze off two shots. We then see the car spin and crash into the roadside ditch. While mom is screaming and baby Ricky is crying (and pooping), Billy jumps out of the backseat and races across the road to hide in the bushes. He crouches down and watches in terror at what unfolds next.
Santa races up to the car and yanks open the driver’s side door. Dad’s body falls out, a bullet hole in the forehead making it clear that he is quite dead. Santa then runs over to the other side of the car and pulls mom from the vehicle. She tries to fight, but Santa is too strong. He forces her down on her back and sitting on top of her, rips open her shirt and exposes her breasts. She fights back more, trying to bat him away with her fists. One of her blows connects with Santa, who retaliates by just flat out belting her. This stuns mom, who just lays there, unable to fight back any longer. Too bad, cuz now bad Santa, having taken umbrage at being hit, produces a switchblade knife and uses it to slit mom’s throat. We don’t see this happen. Just the knife being pressed up to her neck, then a shot of Billy averting his gaze and then a wide shot of Santa picking himself up over mom’s body.
Santa now walks over to the side of the road, knowing that Billy ran off in that general direction. “Where are you, you little bastard?” he cries. Billy just covers his head and lies low. Then we see baby Ricky in the car. He is still crying (and no doubt still pooping). Some cheerful Christmas music begins to play and then we get close-ups of dad’s body and then mom’s – though if you look at the fake blood on mom’s neck, you can see the obvious pulse denoting a living actress pretending to be dead. Then we get some shots of the trees and surrounding terrain…all of which is accompanied by both the cheerful holiday music blaring from the radio as well as the cries of baby Ricky.
The next thing we see is a two-story brick building with a sign in front that reads, “Saint Mary’s Home For Orphaned Children.” Some text appears on screen to tell us that it is now December of 1974, almost three years after Billy witnessed his parents’ murders (Lil Shadow would now be pushing six years of age). Inside, away from the cold, snowy yard, a nun is teaching a class of children. The students have made crayon drawings with a Christmas theme and one by one have been showing them to their classmates. The nun now calls on young Billy to show his drawing.
The camera pans over to Billy, who is engrossed in his efforts to finish his drawing. Take note that Billy is now played by a new kid that looks nothing like the first one. NOTHING. They might as well have made him Asian or Latino for all that this kid resembles the first one. Anyway, Billy smiles when the nun calls him again and eagerly takes his drawing up to the blackboard in order to display it alongside some of the others. You know, I always hated doing that in school, cuz I could never draw worth a shit and my artwork was always the worst looking of the lot. Come to think of it, I didn’t really excel at much of anything as a kid. I couldn’t draw, I couldn’t sing, I couldn’t hit a ball to save my life, I couldn’t throw a ball much better, there were girls with bigger muscles than me and my grades didn’t always assure me a spot on the honor role. The only thing I could do was run somewhat fast. You know, come to think of it, I’m surprised I didn’t turn out to be a psycho killer.
So Billy heads to the front of the room and holds up his drawing so the nun can tape it to the blackboard. Before she can do this, a girl in the class screams and directs her attention to Billy’s artwork. The nun looks at it and horrified, tells him to take it down. Then she tells Billy to find Mother Superior and to show her what he has done. Head hanging low, Billy marches out of the room.
Now we see the Mother Superior looking at his drawing. This also affords us our first glimpse of it as well. HA! No wonder that one girl screamed in horror! Billy’s drawing shows a decapitated reindeer dripping blood all over the place. Close by is Santa, who seems to have had some sort of accident in the kitchen involving cutlery. How else to explain the four knives that are piercing his body and causing him to bleed all over as well? Mother Superior then looks at Billy and asks him to explain his drawing. He just apologizes to her. She doesn’t believe he is sorry and sends him to his room until she says it is ok for him to come out, promising that he will know what it means to be sorry.
Once he has gone, the other nun in the room, Sister Margaret looks over Billy’s drawing and says that they have proof that all the terrible violence he was exposed to three years earlier is still inside of him. Mother Superior doesn’t agree and tells Sister Margaret that just because something “unfortunate” happened to his parents, which he knows nothing about, it’s no reason to let him run wild. Unfortunate? Unfortunate would be stubbing a toe or breaking a finger in a freak bowling accident. I don’t think being shot in the head and having your throat slit counts as unfortunate. Horribly tragic maybe, but not unfortunate. Plus, is this Mother Superior woman deficient or something? How can she say that Billy doesn’t know what befell his parents? The kid’s parents were murdered by a guy in a Santa suit and here he is drawing pictures of old Saint Nick impaled on more knives that you’d find at your average Bennihanna. I don’t think the poor kid has successfully repressed those memories.
Sister Margaret again tries to stress that Billy is in need of professional help, but Mother Superior is pretty much letting it go in one ear and right out the other. She says that she will personally take charge of the child and then dismisses Sister Margaret. It’s clear that Sister Margaret is not convinced that Billy will receive the help he truly needs under Mother Superior’s care. Given the head nun’s icy stare and cold, harsh tone of voice, I think the only thing the kids in that orphanage are getting from her is a healthy fear/dislike of nuns that will haunt them for the rest of their lives.
We move outside now, where all the kids are playing in the snow under the supervision of a nun. The camera zooms in on one of the second floor windows and we can see Billy looking out at all the other kids having a grand old time throwing snowballs, building a snowman and generally having a blast while he is stuck inside. Tired of the view, Billy mopes over to the bunk bed and plops down on the bottom bunk, clearly depressed. Sister Margaret enters and suggests he come outside and help build a snowman, but Billy says that he can’t, no doubt remembering Mother Superior’s orders to stay in his room until she says it is ok to leave. Sister Margaret admits that Mother Superior only wants what is best for Billy and in Margaret’s opinion, what is best for him is to come outside and play.
Billy is persuaded and quickly dons his scarf and jacket before leaving his room. Now in an upstairs hallway, he hears something that gets his attention. Ignoring the stairs, he ventures down the hall and around a corner until he comes to a door, behind which some odd sounds are emanating. Bending down, he peers through the keyhole to see what is on the other side. Low and behold, in the room beyond are a couple engaged in the ancient art of the pickle tickle. Since they seem to be lying on a stack of mattresses, I’m guessing that they are currently occupying a storage room of some kind. I am also going to further speculate and assume that they are a pair of the orphanage’s teenaged residents. Either that or it is one of the nuns molesting one of the male orphans. Given that many priests are guilty of the same thing and I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the case.
The music changes to something more sinister and we see a pair of legs coming down the hall. I think you know who this is going to be. As Billy watches through the keyhole as the male squeezes the girl’s boobs and she caresses his butt in return, he begins to have a flashback to the night his parents died, specifically, seeing his mother pushed to the ground, her shirt torn open and her breasts exposed. One thing is for damn sure…if the kid previously didn’t remember the fate that befell his parents, he sure as hell does now.The feet get closer and suddenly a figure looms over Billy. It’s Mother Superior, but you knew that. She pushes Billy aside and then enters the room, closing the door behind her. Now Billy can only hear what transpires next, but we get to see it. Crying something about a filthy devil, Mother Superior removes a belt from a nearby discarded pair of pants and then uses it to whip the living shit out of the fornicating teens (and they are teens, judging by those pimple faced visages). Outside in the hall, Billy decides to skedaddle. Wise move, kid.
Next we see all the smaller kids outside, playing in the snow. Billy has joined them, but his fun is short lived as Mother Superior comes pounding out of the building, calling his name. She is using his full name of William and you know when an adult does that, it means some serious shit is about to go down. Sister Margaret tries to stick up for Billy, saying that it was she who gave him permission to come outside, but Mother Superior doesn’t want to hear any of it. As Billy picks himself up from the ground, one kid asks him what’s wrong. A third kid then tells the second one that “your brother is a nutcase.” Why, that must be baby Ricky, now all of three years of age. I bet he is still pooping in his pants.
Mother Superior asks Billy what he saw upstairs. He says, “nothing.” Then she asks him if he knows what the couple was doing. He says no. She explains that what they were doing was something “very, very naughty” and they no doubt thought they could do it without getting caught. She furthers explains to little Billy that whenever people do something naughty, they are always caught and once caught, they are punished. According to the old nun, punishment is both necessary and good. Billy can do nothing but agree. Then she reminds him that he left his room, which was very, very naughty. We get a quick glimpse of Sister Margaret, who looks both guilty at having been the one to get Billy in trouble, and aghast at how Mother Superior is so cold and insensitive to Billy’s plight.
The next thing you know, Billy is back in his room and is bent over a chair. If this was a prison flick, I might be really worried right about now, but all the old cranky Mother Superior does is hit him across the ass six times with a belt. Again, if she was about twenty years younger and Billy was ten years older, I’d think I was watching some sleazy Eurotrash flick. She tells him to go to bed and stay there. After she leaves the room, Billy slowly stands and hobbles over to the bed, grasping his ass the whole time. It’s apparent the kid is in pain from his ass whipping, but I never realized that blows to the cheeks like that could actually hinder one’s ability to ambulate. Damn, that Mother Superior must really pack a punch! Anyway, Billy flops down on his bed and curls up into a fetal position, not bothering to change into his pajamas or Underoos or whatever it is in which he sleeps
A shot of the orphanage at night tells us that it is now…night. We then return to Billy’s room where it seems bright as day. Either there was some sloppy editing in this part of the movie, or Billy’s night light is a 4000-watt Xenon searchlight mounted on the wall. Billy is asleep in bed, but he is not at rest. The poor little bugger is tossing, turning and moaning in his sleep. The kid is having a nasty nightmare, which may or may not be about a zombified Chuck E. Cheese trudging after him. Alas, the dream is about the night mom and dad bought the farm. In his mind, Billy sees his father’s body falling out of the family station wagon. His mind must come with a super zoom function, cuz the view of dead daddy enlarges to the point where we can almost reach out and wipe the blood off his forehead. At this point, Billy wakes with a scream.
Billy jumps out of bed, and we see that at some point after flopping into bed, he did manage to change into his sleeping attire. He races out of his room and heads for the stairs. However, before he can even set one foot on them, a hand appears out of nowhere and clamps down on his shoulder with an iron grip that G.I. Joe would envy. He turns to see…the grim, annoyed and downright frightening face of Mother Superior. Not far off, a group of kids ranging in age from nine or ten all the way up to mid teens, stands in the hallway watching. I suppose Billy’s scream woke everyone up.
Soon after, Billy is back in bed…only this time Mother Superior is making sure he doesn’t go wandering again by tying his hands and feet to the bed frame. Ah, the woman does have a way with kids, doesn’t she? She ranks right up there with Joan Crawford in the pediatric care department, though at least she isn’t in the Andrea Yates category. Billy pleads with her to let him loose, but she ignores him. Nearby, Sister Margaret looks like a mess. She obviously cares for Billy and wants to help the poor kid, not worsen his already ravaged psyche. Mother Superior tells Margaret to leave him alone, then stomps out of the room. Kids in the hall run in mortal terror as she approaches. Margaret looks one last time at the struggling Billy, then turns the light out, exits the room and closes the door. We get another shot of Billy struggling and crying for release, then an exterior shot of the orphanage, which slowly fades into…
…Christmas morning. All the orphans have gathered in a first floor living room area and are opening their presents. Mother Superior observes all the kids and notes to no one in particular that she sees nothing but greed where there should be gratitude. Sister Margaret is guiding Billy down the stairs. Since he is wearing the exact same thing as the last time we saw him, we can surmise that his night terrors struck him the night before. Logical, since it was Christmas Eve when his parents kicked the proverbial can. Mother Superior approaches him and asks if he is ready to behave now. He says that he is, so she sends him off to find his present.
Mother Superior and Sister Margaret watch as he locates his present and takes it over to a couch in order to unwrap it. Mother Superior notes that they will have no more trouble with him and that Margaret will see how successful the older woman’s methods will turn out to be. Sister Margaret points out that Billy will improve once Christmas is over, as he always does. Mother Superior notes that Christmas is not quite over yet, as there is still the annual visit from Santa Claus. She is determined to see Billy sit on Santa’s lap and behave. Yeah, and monkeys might fly out of my butt. Sister Margaret gets this look on her face, realizing that forcing Billy near Santa may not be the wisest thing to do, but Mother Superior just says, “You’ll see,” and walks off.
We now skip ahead to some point later that day. All the kids have changed from their sleepwear into their Sunday best. They have once again congregated in the living room, where some guy in a Santa suit sits in a chair and is visiting with them. A door slams open and in comes Mother Superior, dragging Billy behind her. The kid is putting up one hell of a fight, not wanting to get anywhere near the fat guy in the red suit. The last time I saw a kid struggle so desperately was when the hippie neighbors took their kid for the monthly colonic. Mother Superior forces Billy on to Santa’s lap, telling him that he will learn gratitude. She orders him to say thank you to Santa, but all Billy does is struggle. Santa tries to hold Billy, but the kid breaks loose. Santa holds on to his arm, trying to pull him back. How does Billy respond? Well, let’s say that it isn’t the halls that are getting decked with boughs of Holly, but Santa getting decked by Billy’s fist. Yup, Billy nails him.
Santa falls back and lands on the floor. The assembled kids are all in shock. Billy wastes no time in racing for the stairs. Little brother Ricky calls to him and tries to follow, but Sister Margaret stops him. The guy playing Santa wonders aloud what the hell is wrong with that kid. HA! Not only did the orphans see Santa knocked on his ass, but he swore in front of them, too. Talk about your enlightening Christmas days.
Upstairs, Billy runs to his room and huddles in one corner. He starts mumbling something about being sorry and how he didn’t mean to be naughty. This poor kid is so psychologically fubared, that he actually thinks that the smallest infraction or bit of bad behavior on his part will bring down the murderous wrath of Santa Claus upon him. Talk about saddling the kid with a few extra heaps of guilt! Then again, this is the Catholic Church we’re talking about. According to them, breathing is a sin punishable by an eternity in hell. Ok, so I am exaggerating…but not by much.
So Billy sits there, begging to not be punished. A reasonable request, for in his experience, punishment from Santa Claus involves being shot in the head or having your throat slit. It seems there is no room for a spanking in Santa’s world. Heavy footsteps sound nearby and Billy looks up to see who it is. Mother Superior’s annoyed voice can be heard muttering, “William!” Man, she sounds pissed! She must look pretty scary, too. Not that we see her, but we do get to view the expression on Billy’s face when he looks up and sees her. The kid is just terror stricken to the bone. If he hasn’t already crapped his pants, I’m sure he is about to. The image freezes on Billy’s frightened visage and then goes all soft focus.
It’s time for another fast forward jump through time! Now we are told via text that it is Spring of 1984…“Ten Years Later.” Ah, Lil Shadow would now be Punk kid Shadow and be a bit past fifteen.
We see Sister Margaret, who amazingly enough, does not appear to have aged a single day in the last ten years, talking to Mr. Sims, the owner of a local toy store. He has a work position open in his stock room and she is trying to convince him that she has the perfect person for the job. Knowing that she works at the orphanage, he says that the job is for a man, not a kid. She understands, saying that a kid would not be expected to lift heavy boxes all day long. Work in a sweat shop for eighteen hours each day? Sure, but not lifting heavy boxes. Then she says that her candidate has just arrived and wants Mr. Sims to meet him. She introduces him to Billy.
Expecting a child, Mr. Sims turns and looks down, but then has to pan up in order to see the face of the strapping young man who has just arrived. Those ten years have been good to Billy, too. Not only has he developed a fit and healthy physique, complete with some muscles, but he has transformed once again into a new person that looks nothing like the kid he was at age eight…or age five for that matter. Hell, I think this kid is part Time Lord, with the way he keeps changing his appearance over the years. Sims looks at Billy and realizes this young man is just what he needs in the storeroom. He says that Billy can start the following Monday at nine AM sharp. Billy smiles and Sister Margaret thanks Mr. Sims.
It is now time for the musical montage. For a time, it was apparently against the law to make a movie and not include at least one such segment. It didn’t matter if you were making a horny teen comedy, a horror flick, a war movie, a romantic drama or a crime thriller…all movies had to have a musical montage of some sort. In this one, some truly gawdawful song called The Warm Side of the Door plays as we see Billy working at the toy store, which is called Ira’s Toys, by the way.
We watch as Billy lifts heavy boxes…and smiles. He lifts small children up high so they can reach a toy on the top shelf…and he smiles. He punches in for the day…and smiles. He eats his lunch…and smiles. Jeez, this kid smiles a lot! NO ONE smiles that damn much. He must be heavily medicated or something. No wonder he refuses a co-worker’s offer of some J & B whiskey in favor of his milk carton. It should also be noted that every time we see Billy exerting himself to move or lift something, his co-worker is just sitting around on his ass, feet up on a desk and reading something. I guess that is how one officially supervises.
Mr. Sims takes note of Billy’s strong work ethic and smiles, figuring he’s got a good worker. Everything is just peachy…until Mr. Sims unrolls a large banner he has made that reads Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Smack dab in the middle of the two holiday salutations is the image of Santa Claus. Upon seeing this, Billy’s smile instantly vanishes and he begins shaking. Somehow I don’t think the shaking is a result of spicy food or a need to take a pee. The montage ends with a few last shots of shoppers making their holiday purchases.
Now we see Billy emerging from the stock room and standing in the doorway. Nearby is Pamela, a young woman who works at the store and who is arranging some merchandise on a shelf. Billy looks at her in that way. She looks up, sees him and smiles. He half smiles in return and then ducks back into the stock room. It seems young Billy is smitten. In deep smit, no less.
Returning to the stockroom, he is confronted by Andy, another co-worker and the dork who offered him whiskey earlier. He looks at him and asks, “Just what the fuck do you think you’re doing now?” I guess he knows Billy was giving Pamela an appraising, hungry look. Billy looks at him and tells him that he shouldn’t “talk like that.” I am going to assume he is referring to Andy’s choice of salty language and not his inflection. Andy wants to know what is wrong with Billy, pointing out that when Billy first started work there, he was an ok kid. However, recently he has changed, by developing an attitude or staring off blankly into space. Billy tells Andy to just leave him alone, but Andy says that he will leave Billy alone when his work gets done. Billy announces that he doesn’t care about his work, repeats the warning to leave him alone and then turns and exits out the storeroom’s door.
Billy makes his way to the front of the store where their hired Santa sits, calling out Merry Christmas to everyone. Billy’s face changes to one of horror, dread and fear. He starts having flashbacks to the night his parents died, seeing the killer Santa Claus wielding the same bloody knife that took his mother’s life and calling into the bushes for him with a “where are you, you little bastard?” Billy begins backing away from the toy store Santa, but just manages to trip and fall on his ass.
Pamela rushes over to help him to his feet, asking if he is ok. He just says “yeah,” but it is obvious that his voice is a little shaky and that he is unnerved by something. Pamela tells him not to worry about the stuff he knocked over, promising to straighten it up for him. She again asks if he is ok. Gee, what a nag! He says that he has never felt better in his life and then slowly walks away.
Billy heads back to the stockroom, where he tries to calm himself down. In his mind, he hears Pamela’s earlier question and his own lame response. Then he begins to imagine himself alone with her, both of them naked. How do we know he is thinking this? Cuz the movie shows us. We get a long pan across the bed, showing them in all their bare ass glory. Unfortunately, we get a good view of his hairy ass, a sight that may very well require yours truly to seek therapy. Either that or go raid my scotch cabinet in hopes of clearing away that image from my eyelids with a good healthy dose of a single malt from the highlands.
So Billy’s mind continues to be filled with the image of he and Pamela snuggling up to one another in the buff. He caresses her, she caresses him, and they share some soft kisses. You know, the usual. Suddenly she lets loose with a scream of primal terror. You know, the usual. Wait. You mean…that isn’t what usually happens when you’re in bed with a hot chick? It appears the reason the imaginary Pamela is screaming is because somebody in a Santa suit has appeared, wielding a knife, though all we see of this person is their arm and hand. This mystery Santa plunges the knife into Billy’s side and rakes it down the length of his body. Oddly enough, we see that Billy has somehow donned a pair of tan shorts in the split second since Pamela spotted Santa. That was a fast!
Since this is all happening in Billy’s head and Billy would not purposely fantasize about being stabbed by a murderous Santa (at least let us hope so), we now see him awake from his nightmare. Um…hold on a sec. He was in the stockroom at work when he started thinking of Pamela all naked. Now all of a sudden he’s in bed. Just how long was he fantasizing about her? Jeepers. Get a porn mag and get it over with already, pal.
I don’t know where Billy is living these days, but his room is terrible. It has that cheap wood paneling that makes it darker in the room than it should be and looks like the standard wall décor that came with 70’s-era mobile homes. Since he is supposed to be eighteen, that means the orphanage had to boot his ass out, so this is either a place he is renting on his own or some spot he shares with somebody else. He jumps up out of bed and curls up in the corner, just like he did as a child. Heck, we even get a shot of eight-year old Billy, just to drive home the point that the kid is still dealing with some major issues. He just huddles in the corner, saying the same thing he did when he was a kid: a plea to Santa not to punish him and a promise to be good. The camera eventually pans away, as it looks like Billy may be huddled there for quite some time.
Next up, we see Mr. Sims down at the toy store. A woman named Mrs. Randall is with him. I have no idea who she is. A regular customer? A business partner? His secret lover? Who knows who cares. Mr. Sims does mention that it is Christmas Eve, so there is only one more day and “this Christmas crap” as he calls it, will all be over with for another year. Well, it seems Mrs. Randall works for him at the store in some capacity, for she now tells him there is a problem with one of the employees. One guy just called in to say that he broke his ankle while ice skating and will be out for the rest of the Christmas season. Sims seems unimpressed by the problem, telling her to call a temp agency and get a replacement. She informs him that the temp agencies only have women, while the job they need to fill is one best suited by a man. “A big, fat jolly one,” Mrs. Randall says while pointing at the Santa’s sleigh display a few feet away. It appears they will be missing their toy store Santa tonight.
In the stockroom, Billy is checking inventory against paperwork on a clipboard, while Andy is kicked back in a chair, feet up on the desk and ragging on him for his disappearing act the day before. I guess after tripping and falling, Billy left early so he could go home and continue dreaming about a naked Pamela…probably so he could take the “hands on” approach to resolving his desires. Andy warns him that if Billy vanishes again, he will be going to Mr. Sims and informing him of Billy’s behavior. Andy, in usual asswipe fashion, claims that he is giving Billy a break and tells him that Sims is nobody’s friend.
Just at that moment, the door swings open and Mr. Sims enters. Andy jumps up and tries to look busy, but Sims is only interested in Billy. He asks how things are with Billy, and the youth replies that everything is just fine. Cutting to the chase, Mr. Sims says that he has a little problem that maybe Billy could help with. I don’t know…that almost sounds a little on the pervy side. If he starts asking about Billy’s knowledge of Turkish prisons or naked men, I am so out of here. Billy assures Mr. Sims that he will be willing to help out in any way that he can. Sims smiles and says good.
We jump now to a shot of Mr. Sims and Mrs. Randall looking at something. Both are nodding their approval. Sims remarks that it looks “very realistic.” What is it they are looking at? You guessed it: Billy dressed in a Santa Claus costume. He stands there, decked out it full red suit, complete with big white beard. He stares at his reflection and in his eyes, you can almost see the last bits of his soul shriveling up and dying. Sims gives him some advice on how to act: very jolly with lots of ho-ho-ho’s. Really? Geez, I would never have guessed. Sims reminds him to try not to scare the “little bastards” as some small children find Santa to be scary. He finds that idea rather silly and asks Billy if he feels the same. Billy just nods his head and utters a low, “yeah.”
If I might digress for a minute…are these people freakin’ nuts? This poor kid has been traumatized his entire life by the image of Santa, and they want him to now be Santa? I’m sure Mr. Sims, Mrs. Randall and everyone else at the toy store has no idea about Billy’s tragic past, but what about Sister Margaret? She was the one who so desperately wanted professional help for Billy when he was a child, yet she gets him a job in the type of store where he will surely be exposed to Santa come Christmas time each year. What was she thinking?
So now we see the store in full swing. Not only are people shopping, but a sizable line of small children has formed, all of them waiting for their turn to sit on Santa’s knee and ramble off their sizable lists of desired presents. The girl currently occupying that space is fidgeting up a veritable storm, like her Ritalin just ran out or something. Billy, still freaking out because of having to wear the Santa costume (as well as be forced to deal with a barrage of greedy little snot-nosed bastards) keeps asking the kid what is wrong with her and telling her to stop kicking. Nearby, the adults – including the girl’s mother, presumably – just stand and smile at everything.
Billy now tells the young girl that she is being naughty and that he (Santa), does not bring presents to naughty kids. Rather, he punishes them…severely. Upon hearing this, the girl stops her movements. Close by, the adults remark about how good Billy is and how well he handles kids! Yeah, anyone can handle kids if all you do is threaten them with something bad! Billy hands a candy cane to the young girl and releases her. She slowly walks over to her mother and then throws her arms around the woman’s waist. See? The poor girl is damn near scared shitless! Oblivious as to what is truly going on, Mr. Sims just smiles and walks off, confident that the situation is well in hand.
Back in the stockroom, the phone is ringing. Griping out loud, Andy rushes over to answer it. Whoever it is on the other end no doubt asks about Billy, because he tells them that Billy does not work in the stockroom anymore. Then, the mystery party on the other end of the phone line asks what Billy is doing now, to which Andy informs them that Billy is playing Santa Claus to a bunch of snot-nosed kids. Then we see who is on the other end: Sister Margaret. She hangs up the phone, an uneasy expression on her face. That’s right, lady! You just realized the potential mess and psychological evisceration stemming from Billy’s new job. I just hope you also realize who was the moron who got him employment at the toy store to begin with! Yes, it was you Sister Margaret.
Back at the toy store, we see that time has passed and night has arrived. The place is devoid of customers and with the streets empty outside, Mr. Sims decides it is time to close up shop for the day. He locks the front door and then exclaims with a loud yell that as it is now 7:00 at night and the work day is over, the time has come to consume large quantities of booze. Hell yes, it’s Miller time! He prodcues an assortment of bottles from under one of the check-out counters and proceeds to pour himself a glass, wasting no time in downing it all in one gulp. Other employees are opening bags of chips and other snacks as well as preparing drinks of their own. Pamela looks at Billy, who is still seated in Santa’s sleigh, and invites him to join the party.
Mr. Sims pushes glasses of booze into Billy and Pamela’s hands and exhorting the youth to drink up, slams down another drink himself. Billy looks momentarily at the proffered beverage as if it was marinated cat shit in a cup, but then decides to try it anyway. He gulps it down, making another pained face when done. Mr. Sims instantly fills his glass again, telling Billy to stick with him, for before the night is over, Billy really will think he is Santa Claus. Woops! We don’t want that, do we? Billy looks at Pamela, who smiles and nods at him before sipping at her own drink. Billy half smiles back and takes another sip as well.
It isn’t long before Mr. Sims, Mrs. Randall and a few others are so blitzed off their asses, that they are singing Christmas songs. In the midst of all the revelry Andy whispers something to Pamela and pulls her away from the group, waving some mistletoe in the air and heading towards the stockroom. We all know what he has on his mind…the same thing Billy was fantasizing about earlier. Seeing them go, the smile that had formed on Billy’s face instantly vanishes. Drunk + Jealousy + Severe Psychosis = major trouble.
Now for some reason, we get another exterior shot of the toy store, followed by some close-ups of some holiday displays. Usually this is done to help convey the passage of time, but when we see Billy, he is looking down one of the aisles to where Pamela and Andy stand at the end, busily locking lips with one another. So, if the end of the aisle was as far as they got after leaving the others, not too much time could have passed…unless they got caught up in their tonsil hockey so much that they lost track of time. Billy stares at them, an odd look on his face. Well, it’s not that odd. It’s the look a guy gets when the girl he really likes and wants to kiss/grope/bang is tongue wrestling with somebody else. It’s sort of a cross between anger and hurt. Believe me, I know that look all too well. I certainly saw it in my own reflection enough times…but enough about me. Where were we again? Ah, yes.
Mr. Sims notices Billy just standing there and walks over, asking what Santa Claus is thinking about. It’s clear that Mr. Sims has imbibed quite a bit and is so drunk, he’s probably seeing about four Santas. Billy tells him that he was just thinking about his parents. Sims says that this is good, as a boy should think about his parents at Christmas. Billy then reveals that his parents are dead, which causes drunk Mr. Sims to apologize and say that he had forgotten this fact. Well, the kid did grow up in an orphanage. They tend to only accept kids whose parents have bought the farm, and I don’t mean a sizable tract of land in upstate New York.
Sealing his fate and that of many unfortunate others, Mr. Sims now tells Billy that he needs to sober up, as he has a long night ahead of him. When Billy seems confused by the statement, Sims asks him if he remembers what Santa Claus does on Christmas Eve. With a empty look, Billy says that yes, he does. Sims then tells him that he had better get started, repeating this in his drunken stupor. Then Mr. Sims sees Andy and Pamela kissing. He notes that the party is dead anyway and tells Billy to, “Go get ‘em, Santa. Go get ‘em.” With that he turns and staggers off.
Turning back to look at Pamela and Andy, Billy sees them disappear through the doors into the back. Once in the stockroom, Pamela looks around for a few seconds, confused. Then she tells Andy that if he has a present for her, he should have just brought it up front where everyone could see it. HAHAHAHA! He obviously told her that he had a present for her in the back and she believed him to the point of accompanying him back here, even after he pulled the whole mistletoe/kissing trick on her? Tell me she isn’t that naïve! Mr. Smooth Talker explains to her that this present isn’t for everyone else to see and is something that he has wanted to give her for a long time. She smiles. What a moron. Why could I never meet a woman that gullible? He gestures to the back of the stockroom, where he claims the present is waiting, and leads her on, promising that she’s going to love the present. Unless it’s cold, hard cash or precious gems, I doubt it. Not much else will impress the ladies. Certainly not his chorizo. Unless of course, it’s un chorizo muy grande.
Up front, Billy is still staring daggers at the stockroom door, as if he has X-ray vision and could see Pamela and Andy beyond. Nearby, Mr. Sims and Mrs. Randall have resumed their drunken singing of Christmas songs. All the other employees seemed to have left. Lucky them! They will avoid being horribly murdered in a few minutes. Even better, they won’t be subjected to any more horrendous singing. The song Sims and Randall are butchering has something to do about Santa Claus knowing when you’ve been bad. We see Billy then, who puts down his glass of booze and makes his way towards the stockroom while the other two continue to sing.
Billy slowly enters the stockroom, where the lights have been dimmed. He makes his way towards the rear and we can barely hear Pamela’s voice, imploring Andy to stop what he’s doing and that it’s time to return to the party. Billy then spies the couple in the back of the room, where Pamela is trying her best to push Andy away. Andy gets a little overly excited and rips away Pamela’s sweater, revealing the fact that she was wearing nothing underneath when her boobs pop into view. Andy laughs in delight, but Pamela just slaps him. Naturally, he doesn’t like being slapped. His whole demeanor now changes. He calls her a bitch and then pushes her onto her back, leaning over her, kissing her and fondling her chest. When she tries to scream, he just covers her mouth. Boy, what a charmer, that one.
Seeing all this, Billy starts having a major flashback, revisiting once again the night his parents gave up the ghost. He sees the gun firing, the windshield cracking, his mom screaming, his dad’s body flopping out of the car onto the road and the evil killer Santa calling for him. However, worst of all, seeing Andy assault Pamela in such a fashion recalls the memory of his mother, in a similar situation all those years ago: forced to the ground, breasts exposed with a nutjob leaning over her. In his mind he sees her brutal demise as her killer produces the knife and slowly draws it across her throat. After that he sees the face of her murderer as he laughs at her death. Juxtaposed amongst all these memories are shots of Andy’s assault on Pamela.
Finally, at long last, Billy snaps. You can almost hear it. SNAP. The years of living in fear, of remembering that awful night when his parents cashed in their chips, of enduring Mother Superior’s harsh treatment rather that receiving professional help and now being forced to wear a dreaded Santa suit, mixed with a liberal amount of alcohol, mental instability and drunken encouragement from his boss, has all coalesced in this one moment and convinced Billy that he really is Santa Claus and the time has come for him to do his job: punishing naughty people. Since the only punishment he has witnessed Santa ever meting out just happens to be a horrible death, once can only assume that such is the route he will take as well in his own punitive career.
A twisted smile now marking his face, Billy turns back to Andy and Pamela. The smiles vanishes, to be replaced by an angry scowl. “Naughty!” he screams and then pulls Andy off the struggling female. Billy then grabs a string of Christmas lights and quickly wraps them around Andy’s neck. Then using one arm (and incredible strength) he lifts Andy right up off the floor. As Pamela watches in horror, Andy struggles, kicks and squirms in his attempt to free himself, but Billy has a death grip on him. Gradually, Andy stops struggling and goes limp. Billy has garroted him. In fact, Billy was pulling so hard on that string of lights, that it cut into Andy’s neck and caused blood to splatter out on the dead guy. Billy then lets go and Andy’s corpse falls to the ground.
Billy now turns to look at Pamela, who is justifiably frightened. She says that he is crazy and calls him a bastard. He tells her to stop it. She slaps at him and tries to push him away. He pushes her back so that she falls against a box with a thud.
Up front in the store, drunk Mr. Sims thinks he hears something, but the even more drunk Mrs. Randall passes it off as his imagination. Odd how he can hear Pamela colliding with a cardboard box, but could not hear her being sexually assaulted a moment ago.
Back in the stockroom, Pamela is cowering from Billy, who has now grabbed a box cutter and is wielding it like a lightsaber. She tries to dash past him, but he grabs her. He tells her that punishment is necessary and good. With that he takes the box cutter and thrusts it into her gut, sharp side up. Then he slowly pulls the box cutter up towards her chest, producing a long cut and pretty much gutting her like a fish, though we don’t actually see guts or entrails spilling out onto the ground.
Returning up front to Drunk and Drunker, Mr. Sims hears another thud and decides to investigate. He walks off, leaving Mrs. Randall to monkey around with a hat on which she has affixed a bit of mistletoe, no doubt in hopes of scoring some smooches. In the back, Pamela is slowly sinking to the ground, shaking her head in disbelief. Her last thoughts were probably shock at dying so young and surprise at the “nice young man” who just took her life. Well, that and wondering if she had on clean underwear.
Mr. Sims now staggers to the back of the store and into the stockroom, calling for someone to answer him. Of course, he gets no response. He walks further into the room, but sees no one. We get a few shots of Billy’s feet or legs as he moves around the darkened room, the bells on his costume jingling slightly. Convinced that he is drunk and just hearing things, Mr. Sims turns to go. He takes a few steps, which puts him about even with an aisle of boxes. He turns back around and let’s loose with a very disturbing “Yoo Hoo!” When he turns back towards the door, there is Billy having come around the corner of the aisle. He is holding a claw hammer above his head. Mr. Sims doesn’t waste any time at all…he let’s loose with a horrified scream. Down comes the hammer and SPLAT. We see a thick stream of blood splatter on some cardboard boxes. Now that is what I call sticking it to the boss!
Up front, Mrs. Randall drunkenly calls for Mr. Sims a few times, but the only answer she gets is when the lights go out in the entire store, although the power is still on for the Christmas tree and other holiday displays. Thinking Mr. Sims is behind it, she calls for him to come out and see her. She wanders around until she reaches the stockroom doors. Asking aloud if Mr. Sims is hiding in there, she makes her way inside. It’s dark and she is having a difficult time seeing. Then again, with the amount of booze that she has consumed, she might very well be seeing everything in a near blur. Eventually, her vision clears to the point where she can make out Mr. Sims, laid out across some crushed boxes with a claw hammer sticking out of his head and a generous amount of blood accessorizing his outfit. Needless to say, he’s dead.
Mrs. Randall does the expected thing at this point: she screams. She rushes back up front and tries to leave through the front door, but it is locked. Mr. Sims locked it, remember? He has the key. As she struggles with the door, we see a gloved hand lifting an ax from its place high on the wall. No doubt it was put there in case of a fire. Either that or Mr. Sims was selling axes as toys. Go figure.
Realizing that the door isn’t going to open, Mrs. Randall turns back and spies a telephone on one of the check-out counters. She runs over and grabs it, quickly making a call. Alas, as soon as someone answers on the other end, an axe descends and severs the phone cord. She looks up and sees Billy, who is now trying to free the axe from the counter top. She looks at him for a few more seconds, as if she is in total disbelief as to the killer’s identity. Then she hauls ass for the depths of the store. Billy frees his axe and follows her. As he stalks her through the aisles, he begins reciting lines from The Night Before Christmas. Then, looking around, he sees through a gap on the shelves the ridiculous hat that Mrs. Randall had been wearing, complete with mistletoe on it. It seems he has found her hiding spot in the adjacent aisle.
Billy slowly eases to the end of the aisle he is currently in and quietly rounds the corner into the next. He swings his axe, but we see that the hat that drew his attention has been set up on a number of boxes that have been piled up in the middle of the aisle. Behind him in the corner, a tall stack of boxes erupts, revealing Mrs. Randall, who was hiding behind them. The boxes fall over and hit Billy, pushing him to the floor. Mrs. Randall runs past him, grabbing the axe as she goes. Then she hightails it back to the front of the store, obviously intending on using the axe to help her gain egress.
She raises the axe in order to swing it, but a “No!” calls her attention. She looks back and sees Billy, who is now wielding a bow and arrow, aiming it right at her! She turns back to smash the door and Billy let’s loose with the arrow. It hits her square in the back, impaling her so deep, the tip is sticking out of her chest. She drops the axe, turns around to look at him in surprise and pain, then falls over dead into some of the fake snow surrounding the holiday displays. Billy looks at her body and smiles. Then, having retrieved the keys from dead Mr. Sims, he unlocks the front door and leaves, axe in hand.
Just to remind us of what just transpired, the film now shows us the bodies of the people Billy just killed, intercut with shots of the festive displays and decorations. First we see Mrs. Randall, laid out in fake snow with an arrow protruding from her chest. Then a quick shot of a mechanical Santa. Then we see Pamela, flopped out on the floor with a final look on her face that reminds me of people who accidentally sit on a tack. Then Mr. Sims with a hammer in his head. A shadow then falls across the front door and someone enters the store. It’s Sister Margaret! She calls out hello but there is no reply. She looks around some and then discovers Mrs. Randall’s body. She lets out a scream as the camera zooms in on some nutcrackers. Well, they were some pretty creepy nutcrackers.
Now we see a group of the frightening and merciless urban terrorists more commonly known as Christmas carolers. These folks don’t fly planes into skyscrapers or blow up federal buildings with lots of cow shit. No, they are far worse. They roam suburban neighborhoods and terrorize the population by spontaneously – and most importantly, unsolicited – launching into a song and holding folks for ransom while they sing it…badly. The truly tragic part is that these folks are your normal, everyday Americans who have been coerced into this activity. Somebody should start a recovery and support group…or at the very least, update the laws on what passes for public decency and disturbing the peace. Thank goodness my neighborhood isn’t infested with them. This particular group is standing in front of some poor bastard’s house and singing up a storm. Since the person or persons being subjected to this ungodly racket are probably beyond help (and have most likely ransacked their own home by this point in search of rat poison to eat), the camera instead chooses to highlight the house across the street, by gradually zooming in on it.
A couple of things should be noted about this house. It has two levels to it, with the front door located on the upper level. However, the upper level, while being an upper level, is not as high off the ground as you’d expect from a second story. One has to ascend a short series of steps to reach it since it has been constructed on a hill and seems to be set partially into the hillside itself. The camera focuses on the lower level and one window in particular. Through this window we can see that the lights are on within that room and that the place has the same crappy wood paneling on the walls that Billy’s bedroom had. Additionally, all the lights on the upper floor appear to be out.
Beyond the window in question, a young couple is laying on a pool table and necking like there is no tomorrow. The guy has divested himself of all his clothes except for his pants, while the broad is clad only in a flimsy blouse and some panties. Hearing the mind-numbing cacophony from across the street, the guy jumps down from the pool table and hits the power button on a nearby stereo. Some music much more appropriate for getting it on now drowns out the hellish sounds of the Carolers across the street. The guy resumes his position on the pool table and proceeds to unbutton the girl’s blouse, exposing her boobs. Then the two resume their lip locking.
A shrill and annoying voice calls out the name Denise. A child appears at the top of some stairs, looking down. She claims that she cannot sleep and wants to wait up for Santa. Denise, the slut on the pool table, tells the young girl not to come downstairs as she and her friend are doing their homework. What…in biology? rimshot Thanks, I’ll be here all week! Denise explains that unless Cindy (the young girl) goes back to sleep, Santa won’t come. “He’s not the only one,” adds her amorous male companion. Cindy apparently doesn’t want to piss off Santa (with good reason if this film is any indication) and goes back to bed. It should be noted that Denise and her friend are currently occupying a downstairs game room of some sort, with the bulk of the house located one floor above them.
Denise and her boyfriend get back to what they were doing, which involves Denise losing her blouse entirely. “Two ball in the corner pocket,” her boyfriend announces. They then start kissing again. This goes on for a few seconds and then we hear a jingling sound. Denise excuses herself, saying that she has to go upstairs cuz the cat wants in. He asks how she knows this and she tells him that she heard the animal at the door. So she hops up, pulls on her denim shorts and bounds up the stairs, still without a top on of any kind.
Arriving at the front door, she throws it open to reveal…nothing. No cat. She calls to the animal repeatedly, but no feline is forthcoming. Warning the critter that it will be on its own until morning, she begins to close the door. That is when the cat in question comes running in. She turns to look at the cat as it races past her. This means that she does not see Billy, who has now stepped from out of view onto the porch. “Punish!” he exclaims. Denise turns around to see him raising his axe. She lets loose with a scream and slams the door shut. Naturally, a wooden door is just a mild hindrance to a crazy man with an axe. Billy starts chopping his way into the house and within seconds the front door has been reduced to kindling.
Denise races into a well-lit living room area. A minute ago when we saw the house from the outside, all the upstairs lights were out, now this room has every lamp blazing away. She didn’t have the chance to turn them on, since we saw her go straight from the stairs to the front door when she came up from below. Maybe that annoying little brat Cindy turned them on. Anyway, Denise decides to try something unorthodox: hiding in plain view. She pushes herself up against the wall near the fireplace, apparently hoping to blend in with the room’s décor. Sadly, half naked chicks tend to stick out anywhere. Billy sees her and throws the axe. Too bad for him he is a better shot with a bow and arrow than with the axe. All it does is embed itself in the wall next to Denise.
Denise now tries to run, but Billy lunges out and grabs her. The two struggle for a few seconds, with her desperately trying to get away while he attempts to secure a better grip on his prey. Eventually, he manages to push her down and then grasp her by the waist, her backside facing away from him. He walks across the room and lifts her high in the air, muttering “punish” several more times. Then, as if he was hanging a picture frame, he pushes her back so that she becomes impaled on the antlers of a large stag’s head that is mounted on the wall. She squirms around some, but soon dies. Billy then exits the room, leaving her hanging there like some cheap decoration.
Downstairs, the boyfriend is passing time by shooting some pool. After all, some balls might as well be put to use. I suppose the music he is blasting accounts for why he was utterly unable to hear all the screaming and banging from upstairs. He calls to Denise, wondering what she is doing. When he gets no response, he dons his shirt and heads up the stairs. He finds the front door smashed to pieces, which elicits a “holy shit.” He calls to her again and then walks into the living room. Denise’s body is still hanging from the antlers, but Sherlock here has the worst peripheral vision ever, and is unable to see her on the wall to his right. Finally, he turns and sees her hanging there and lets out a horrified scream. Whether the scream was because she had been horribly murdered or because he realized he wasn’t getting laid after all is up to you to decide.
A hand grabs his shoulder and spins him around. It’s Billy! He throws the boyfriend across the room, where his intended victim grabs a fireplace poker as a weapon. He swings it at Billy, but misses. He swings again and connects, sending Billy falling backwards over a chair. He swings a third time and POW. Billy gets one right in the face. He falls back over the railing and down into the stairwell. Thinking Billy has been incapacitated, the boyfriend picks up a phone and asks the operator to dial the police. This is when Billy appears behind him to grab him once again and throw him across the room one more time. Then Billy yanks the phone cord from the wall. Somehow, I don’t think he is upset because the boyfriend didn’t use 1-800-collect.
Billy now advances on the boyfriend, who is still on the floor. Muttering “punish,” he wraps the phone cord around the boyfriend’s neck and lifts him to his feet. The two struggle some more, knocking over Christmas decorations and really making a mess of the place. Then the boyfriend manages to kick Billy right in the balls. Billy drops instantly to the floor, but is back on his feet very quickly, not affording the boyfriend much time to recover from the last attack. Billy bunches both of his fists together and deals his victim a blow to the back of the head. The boyfriend drops to the floor and as he tries to pick himself up, Billy kicks him hard in the gut. Then grabbing the boyfriend by the pants with one hand and the neck with the other, Billy grunts out “Punish” once again and then hurls his victim through a nearby window. The poor youth screams as he flies through the glass. When we see him next, he is laying in a bloodied heap on the front lawn, with a few large pieces of glass sticking out of him. Yep, he’s dead.
Billy retrieves his axe from its spot embedded in the wall then heads for the door. As he goes, he is spotted by the young girl Cindy, who cries out in delighted surprise, “Santa Claus!” he turns to look at her and she asks if he has brought her a present. In reply, he asks her if she has been good or naughty. She says that she has been good. He slowly withdraws the box cutter used earlier to gut Pamela, asking Cindy if she is sure that she has been good. The girl just nods her head and smiles. Billy then kneels down and presents the box cutter to her with a smile. She takes it with a perplexed frown. No doubt she was expecting a toy or something. Billy then exits out the front door and we hear Cindy calling for Denise.
We get one last shot of the dead boyfriend in the front yard. I had been wondering how such a short fall could have killed him. Remember that although he was thrown from a second story window, the upper floor on this house is not that high off the ground. Judging from the stairs leading from the ground to the front door, I’d say that the upper level was only about four to five feet off the ground. It’s possible that when the boyfriend hit the ground, he broke his neck, but under normal circumstances, I would doubt a fall from that short height would be fatal. Then I noticed the large piece of glass protruding from his face. It’s entirely possible that the fall and impact thrust it into his brain, killing him. Whatever the case may be, the poor bastard is dead.
Now we see a law enforcement SUV from the local police force as it cruises down the street. Inside are two officers, Murphy and Miller. Murphy is noting how on Christmas Eve, they have orders to go find Santa Claus and haul him in. I guess Sister Margaret has called the cops and told them that a killer Santa is on the loose. Murphy asks his partner what their Captain would do if they were to bring in the real Santa. Miller laughs and says that their boss would never be satisfied and would send them back out to find the Easter Bunny or Peter Pan. Um…what holiday does Peter Pan represent? Some weird gay festival in San Francisco?
The vehicle makes a turn and as they head down one suburban street, they spy someone in a Santa suit entering a house through a second story window, having used a ladder to reach it. The two cops waste little time in parking, running to the front door and entering. I guess the door was unlocked, as the cops just breeze right in rather than having to kick it down. A woman sitting on a couch inside looks up in surprise and asks what they are doing. She chases after both officers as they rush upstairs with their guns drawn. They race to the end of the hall and throw open a door, revealing their suspect Santa standing over a sleeping girl. The child awakens, looks at Santa and happily exclaims, “Daddy!” The two officers realize that they have the wrong Santa.
Elsewhere, Billy – the right Santa – is traversing a dark and lonely road. Lights in the distance behind him reveal an approaching vehicle. Sirens filling the air denote that said vehicle is a police car. Billy looks back, sees the oncoming car and jumps into the roadside ditch in order to hide. He watches the car zoom past and then resumes his lonely walk.
Now we turn our attention to two young boys who are out for a little bit of nighttime sledding. They look to be about fifteen or sixteen. I don’t know about you, but when I was that age and out that late, I was tearing it up at the local pizza place, dreaming about meeting hot girls and getting laid. Note I said dreaming. The reality of it was, I acted like a moron thinking the attention I was drawing made me look cool in a crazy sort of way. My luck with the girls as a teen was about as good as my chances of making the varsity football team: zilch. Still, I would expect these two to be some place other than this location, where their hopes of running into any female, let alone a hot one, is only slightly better that their chances of encountering Sasquatch out for a nocturnal stroll through the woods…but to each his own I suppose.
One of the youths jumps on his sled and prepares to push off down the hill, but he pauses. His pal wants to know what the problem is, but the first youth just tells his buddy to be quiet. With a worried look, he informs his friend that “somebody else” is out there. They both look around in the dark woods. The first teen says that he feels like he is being watched. His friend wonders who it could be, sarcastically suggesting it could be Santa’s little elves. Personally, I’m still hoping for Bigfoot. The first kid then figures it was just his imagination that got the best of him and prepares for his descent.
At that instant, two figures suddenly emerge from behind a nearby bush. The two sledders look up in alarm, but the newcomers are just another pair of males, though these two look to be a wee bit older…say about twenty-one or twenty-two, although I’m sure they are supposed to be teens. The first pair recognizes this new duo and call them by their names: Bob and Mac. Then they express their desire for Bob and Mac to leave the area. I think the exact term was “get the fuck out of here.” However, Bob and Mac have no plans to leave. In fact, they are in the mood for a little sledding themselves. The first pair realizes that Bob and Mac are going to divest them of their sleds. Since Bob and Mac appear to be physically larger than they are, they really have no choice. Put up any resistance and Bob and Mac may very well divest them of their asses.
I really do have to say, for a pair of bullies, Bob and Mac are dressed like a couple of sissies. Well, one does look ok. I have no idea which one is Bob and which one is Mac, but one of them is wearing a denim jacket over a flannel shirt. That’s all fine and dandy. That looks like appropriate attire for both this weather as well as for being a jackass bully. Alas, the other guy is decked out in a light, powder blue jacket over a similarly colored turtleneck shirt. Competing the ensemble is a light blue beanie on his head, complete with fuzzy ball on the top. Combined with the shape of this kid’s face in profile, and it all makes him look like a cartoon elf who has just stepped right off a kids cereal box. Either that or the mascot for that Peter Pan festival in San Francisco.
One of the first pair of teens (the movie hasn’t revealed their names at this point, nor will it in the future, though the end credits list them as Doug and Jim) mouths off and Bob (or is it Mac?) responds by punching him in the gut. There is a brief altercation between the two pairs, but the older, bigger boys pretty much bully the other two into abandoning their sleds and getting lost as quickly as they can.
Laughing at the retreating pair, the two bullies commandeer the sleds. Mr. Elf goes first, hoping on one of the sleds, but before he begins his descent, he worries about hitting a tree. His friend just tells him to go already, so he pushes off and starts his trip down the hill. As he picks up speed he lets out a few “yeahs” and “Woohoos” in excitement. These dorks must not get out too much, because he doesn’t seem to be going all that fast. Certainly not fast enough to warrant such excited hollering on his part. He finally reaches the bottom of the hill and tosses the sled aside. Then he calls up for his buddy to start his run.
“Now watch this,” his friend says at the top. He jumps on his sled and pushes off. He quickly picks up speed and like his Elfin buddy, lets loose with some excited shouting, despite not going very fast. Hell, as he descends the slopes, he is forced to help propel himself along even further by using his hands. As he zooms along one stretch of hillside, out of sight from his friend at the bottom, a figure in red suddenly lunges out from behind a tree. It’s Billy! And he has an axe! Billy swings his weapon and yells, “naughty!” The poor bastard on the sled can only scream. WHACK!
At the bottom of the hill, Mr. Elf waits for his friend to arrive. He sees the sled sliding down the slopes, but something seems to be wrong with the figure on it. As it slows to a stop a few feet away, he sees what it is: its rider has no head. Mr. Elf starts screaming like a colossal pansy as his friend’s head comes bouncing down the hill to stop near the sled. Then the headless body topples over onto the snow, the bloody stump of a neck just inches from where the lifeless head stares up into the sky. Mr. Elf continues to scream like a nine-year old girl being tickled with a feather. Further up the hill, holding his bloody axe, Billy listens to the horrified girlie screams.
Dawn breaks over the county courthouse, where Captain Richards of the police force walks down a hallway to find Sister Margaret asleep on a bench. He gently wakes her and she apologizes for falling asleep. She asks him if there has been any news and he says “All bad, Sister.” Then taking a seat next to her, he informs her that there have been three more murders in addition to the victims of the toy store massacre. He says that his men have been busy all night, but while Billy may be nuts, he is not stupid and has managed to avoid getting captured. Sister Margaret agrees that Billy is not stupid and says that everything he has done has a certain logic to it, if one truly understands what he has gone through in his life. The Captain feels that if that is true, there should be a way to predict Billy’s next move. Sister Margaret thinks for a second and then comes to a realization. “Oh my god,” she mutters.
We now cut quickly over to the orphanage where the orphans are opening their presents from Santa. Sitting in a wheel chair is Mother Superior. She is telling the kids to fold and stack the wrapping papers, not wanting to see them all thrown about the room. She also wants them to write a nice thank you letter to Santa for his visit later. Well, it’s nice to know that some things never change. The woman is still a bitter, bossy, insensitive, mean, old bitch that has no business whatsoever dealing with kids. Realizing that the children are too caught up in their presents to have heard her, she asks if they are listening. She gets no response. HA!
In Mother Superior’s office, a young girl is pretending to let her doll talk on the phone. When she leaves, she fails to hang the phone up properly, leaving the receiver on the desk. A dial tone can be heard. Elsewhere, Captain Richards is trying to call the orphanage, but he is getting a busy signal. Gee, I wonder why, when you have retarded kids running loose in the place, mucking about with the phones. He hangs up and asks the nearby Sister Margaret if that is the only line to the orphanage. She says that it is and wonders just who could be on the phone for that long. Well, there are girls at this orphanage. Females tend to linger on the phone for hours. Captain Richards says that he cannot wait any longer. He’s going to go down to the dispatcher (to have a car sent to the orphanage, presumably) and then he and Sister Margaret will head out there together.
Now we see another police SUV heading down a roadway. Inside is Officer Barnes and he is listening to Captain Richards over the radio instructing all available officers to head for the orphanage, as that is where the “Santa Claus Killer” is heading. Richards instructs his men to shoot to kill. Barnes flips a U-turn and zooms back in the opposite direction. What is really funny is that Barnes doesn’t do anything until the instruction to shoot to kill is heard. Then he turns his vehicle around. I guess the possibility of blowing somebody away was too great a lure for him to ignore.
At the orphanage, all the unsuspecting kids are let into the front yard to play. The we see the booted feet of Santa stomping through some snow. The kids are doing their best to have a snowball fight with the limited amount of snow on the ground. In the midst of their battle, one kid stops the others and draws their attention to someone approaching from the direction of the church across the street. Why, it’s Santa Claus! The kids start to smile and drift in that general direction.
Down the block, Officer Barnes comes flying down the road in his SUV. He radios in to headquarters that he is approaching the orphanage and that everything seems to be fine. He mentions that the kids are playing in the yard, and then he spots Santa in the yard with the kids. With an “oh shit” he slams on the brakes and jumps out of the vehicle, drawing his gun as he runs towards the wire fence that marks the Orphanage grounds. He yells for Santa to “hold it,” but the jolly guy in red doesn’t even slow down. He is heading straight for the kids, one of which is walking towards him with a big smile. The kid (who just happens to be Billy’s younger brother, Ricky) extends his hand to take Santa’s, but Officer Barnes cannot risk waiting any longer and squeezes off three shots.
BAM! BAM! BAM! Bloody holes appear in Santa’s back and he falls to the ground. Ricky’s mouth drops open in shock and we see that he is splattered with Santa’s blood. A nun comes running out and yells for the kids to get inside. Not a single one of them seems upset by having witnessed Santa being blown away. Sure, Ricky was surprised, but there is no crying or sobbing as all the kids run back inside. My guess is that thinking Santa is dead, they are all glad that they won’t have to write those thank-you notes for their presents. Officer Barnes then cautiously approaches Santa, his gun aimed on the body.
Elsewhere, a police car is heading down the road. Inside are Captain Richards and Sister Margaret. A report comes in over the radio that a man in a Santa suit was shot and killed at the orphanage and that an ambulance is on the way. Ambulance? If the guy is dead, call the damn coroner! Sister Margaret looks like she is ready to cry, no doubt thinking it was Billy who just got shot up like Swiss Cheese. Richards offers his sympathies, but says that at least things are now all over.
Now we get a shot of the officer in dispatch. He contacts Richards over the radio and says that they have a problem. It seems the description of the dead Santa does not match what Billy looks like. The dead guy is about fifty years of age and under six feet in height. Sister Margaret utters another “oh my god,” having realized who the dead Santa is: Father O’Brien, the man scheduled to play Santa for the orphans this year. Dispatch relays Barnes’ report that the Santa did not yield to verbal warnings. Sister Margaret explains that Father O’Brien was deaf. He could not hear a damn thing! Whoops! Captain Richards orders Barnes to remain at the orphanage, as the real killer may show up. Sister Margaret insists that they’ve “got to help him!” I am going to assume she means Billy, because let’s face it, Father O’Brien is long past help.
Note - It is at this point that the movie enters its final segment, so if any of you really feel the need to watch this film and not know the ending ahead of time, skip the rest of this section.
Inside the orphanage, Officer Barnes is standing watch by the front door. In her wheelchair, Mother Superior asks how he could have mistaken Father O’Brien for the murderer in the first place, seeing as how he was dressed in a Santa suit. Barnes just says that he’ll let Captain Richards explain everything and says he is sorry for what has happened, but there is a killer on the way to their location. Mother Superior says that no harm must come to the children. “That’s why I am here, Sister,” he replies. Now somewhat angry, she reminds him that she is the Mother Superior and all that he has done since arriving is harm. Hell, now that he has shot Santa dead, why doesn’t he finish ruining the kids day by stomping on their presents and reminding them that their parents are dead?
Barnes now says that he is going to go check out the grounds and tells Mother Superior to not let anyone inside that she doesn’t know. With her usual charming attitude, she tells him that no one will get in that doesn’t belong there. Oh really? How? Their security seems to be pretty nonexistent. Aside from Officer Barnes, all they have are locks on the doors and windows. I doubt that will keep a determined killer out for long. Maybe they have booby traps set up by all the entrances! You know…poison darts, mustard gas, crushing weights…the usual. I know! Perhaps the hand of god himself is going to reach down and block off access to the place by the unauthorized! Whatever their defenses may be, Barnes exits through the front door, his weapon drawn once again.
We get a quick shot of the car with Captain Richards and Sister Margaret as it zooms down a lonely road out in the middle of nowhere. Just where is this orphanage? The sticks? Returning to Officer Barnes, we see him circling the outside of the orphanage, looking for anything unusual.
Inside, one nun approaches Mother Superior and tells her that the “poor things are scared to death.” I guess she means the kids, but they sure don’t look frightened. Well, at least not scared at the thought of a killer Santa busting into the place any time soon. However, they do look like they are afraid to their very souls that Mother Superior is going to go all Torquemada on them and start ordering kids beaten, whipped or placed in the thumbscrews. She decides that they need something to take their minds off the current situation (aside from a session on the rack), so she has Ricky fetch her harmonica. While he walks away to retrieve it, she remarks to another nun that he is such a good kid and not at all like his brother. He returns with the harmonica and hands it to her before resuming his seat. Then she blows into it and the kids start to sing. Nevermind thumbscrews or the rack or even being boiled alive, listening to this hellish barrage of sound is the worst torture of them all.
Outside, Officer Barnes is still prowling the grounds, looking for any signs of trouble. He comes across a door at the rear of the building, but it is locked. Approaching the back of the building, he jumps around the corner, his gun drawn and aimed at potential targets. However, there is no one to point at. He just looks like a moron for having done it. Then he sees a small wooden shack a few dozen feet away from the main building. The door on this shack is unlocked and the wind is causing it to move back and forth somewhat. Barnes begins picking his way through the snow to the shack, as the scary music starts up. As Barnes gets closer to it, the wind picks up and the door slams all the way open. This causes Barnes to throw his back against the wall of the shack and then jump into the doorway, his gun drawn once again and ready to fire.
The only thing inside the shack are some concrete stairs leading down into some type of cellar. Barnes slowly descends the stairs and does his usual maneuver upon reaching the bottom: he jumps around the corner, his gun pointed into the chamber beyond. Alas, the only thing in this place is an ancient furnace located in the middle of the room. Still, he decides to investigate and makes a slow circuit of the place. Finding nothing, he relaxes a bit, unzipping his jacket and heading back on up the stairs.
He reaches the top and pauses for just a second, stealing a last glimpse down the stairs. As he turns back around, Billy appears and swings his axe at the officer, yelling his now familiar refrain of “punish!” The axe gets Barnes right below the sternum. SPLAT. A look of surprise on his face, Barnes tumbles back down the stairs. We even get a quick POV shot from his perspective, showing the doorframe falling away above him. He lands in a jumbled heap at the bottom, dead.
After an establishing shot of the orphanage and quick look at the kids inside, who are still singing, we are shown a snowman in the front yard. An axe dripping with blood is lowered before the camera and before you can say, “Batter up,” Billy uses it to perform the most vile, violent and disgusting act ever put to screen since audiences were exposed to Kirk Douglas’ naked man ass (old naked man ass at that) in Saturn 3: he decapitates poor old frosty.
Inside, the kids have finished up one song. While Mother Superior is suggesting another, one young boy sees movement through the front door’s glass and realizing who it is, heads over and opens it. Billy enters, the axe hidden behind his back. As the other kids see that Santa has arrived they get up to greet him. Mother Superior tells them all to stay away from the newcomer. “But Mother Superior, it’s Santa Claus,” says one girl in disbelief. In fact more than one of the kids is staring slack-jawed and wide-eyed at Santa. Then again, who can blame them? A short while ago they saw Santa gunned down like a rap star, but now here he is alive and kicking. Son of a bitch! Santa is one impressive Mofo! Just think about all he can do:
He travels the entire globe and visits every home in a single night.
This means that he has obviously mastered superluminal velocities while
avoiding any problems brought on by time dilation or relativistic problems.
Those Reindeer are obviously just for show, cuz Santa must have a Quantum
Slipstream Drive under the hood of that sleigh.
So, added on to all these kickass abilities is the apparent ability to resurrect himself from the dead! At least, in the eyes of these kids that is true. Hell, given the evidence, I’d venture to say that old Santa is capable of regenerating and is in fact one of the aforementioned Time Lords…perhaps some rogue Gallifreyan from the era of Omega or Rassilon.
Um…where were we? Oh, yes! So Billy has entered the orphanage. Mother Superior manages to draw away the kids that had walked over to greet him so that Billy is now standing alone. His little brother Ricky has seemed to recognize him, but his smile vanishes as he senses that something is wrong. Shielding the group of kids behind her, Mother Superior announces that there is no Santa Claus. Billy just looks at her and softly says, “naughty.” Mother Superior repeats her statement another couple times as Billy produces the axe from behind his back. He raises it high over his head. She looks up at it and then closes her eyes, resigned to her fate. “Naughty!” yells Billy. He starts to swing the axe and…
…BLAM! BLAM! Billy falls forward, two bullet holes in his back. Standing behind him in the entrance way is Sister Margaret and Captain Richards, the latter brandishing a smoking gun (and standing like he just crapped in his pants and he’s trying to not let the poop touch his cheeks). As Billy falls, he grasps at Mother Superior’s arm, but she shakes him off as if he was a leper, not giving one thought to how she has helped in the creation of this monster.
Sister Margaret now comes over and kneels by Billy. He looks at her and then looks over at the frightened faces of the kids. Some of these kids actually look like they’ve been crying! I wonder what threats the production team had to make in order to get these junior thespians to cry. Anyway, Billy looks at them and tells them not to worry and that they are now safe because Santa Claus is gone. With that pronouncement made, he promptly dies.
The camera now pans away from Billy and across his dropped axe. Standing next to it is a child. The camera pans up and we see that it is Ricky, Billy’s brother. Ricky does not look happy at all. In fact, he looks up from his dead brother to stare daggers at Mother Superior, who looks back at him in her cold, detached fashion. Then, coming to a realization, Ricky’s brow furrows even more and he directs a single word at Mother Superior.
From that point, the film is pretty much your standard slasher. A few of the people that we have met by that point are quickly stalked and dispatched. We are then introduced to a few more that also meet untimely, and often quite grisly, ends. The film then abandons the slasher mold, forgoing the usual extended killer/final girl pursuit. Instead, we know where things have been building up to and the film finally takes us to the moment we know has been brewing for some time. In this regard, the film plays out its last few minutes more like a police thriller, rather than a horror film.
For a film than features so many characters – just take a look at the character section above to see how many there are – the movie doesn’t seem too interested in really developing them. Some are brought to life rather well by the actor in question, while others seem to benefit more from the writing. Most don’t seem much more than your standard stock character, interchangeable with dozens of others in differing films.
Until Rob Zombie’s Halloween remake came along, I can recall few movies that examined the origins of its killer, going all the way back to their young childhood days. Yes, there have been several films that had serial killers as their main character and which delved into their inner workings, but not too many that has followed them from childhood trauma on through to adulthood. That being said, the main character of Billy is rather bland. He seems most “alive” when portrayed by child actors. It’s at these time that he is more animated, though there is a big difference between the five-year old loud mouth we see in 1971 and the much more withdrawn eight-year old in 1974. It’s during the scenes set in that last year that we feel most sorry for him. He has lost his parents and lives under the cruel supervision of a Mother Superior who hasn’t a clue how to deal with his trauma. As an eighteen-year old, Billy is almost a non-entity until his eventual meltdown. He is even more quiet and reserved than he was before, but seeing everything he must deal with, we again feel sorry for the poor guy. It’s almost as if it’s not his fault that he turns out the way he does and that more people should have seen it coming.
The most well acted role is that of Mother Superior, portrayed by Lilyan Chauvin. She brings the right balance of caring and insensitivity for us to see that she really does care about Billy’s welfare, it’s just that she is clueless as to how to properly help him. Despite her good intentions she comes across as a mean old broad and we can’t help but feel anger and even hatred toward her for the way she treats Billy. The real pity is, by movie’s end, she never does get what is coming to her. You’ll have to watch the sequel to see that. Sister Margaret is much more likable, as she is the only person in the entire movie that seems to really care about Billy. It’s just too bad she didn’t do a little more thinking ahead. Then all those deaths might have been averted. She is the sole person to appreciate the tragedy that unfolds in the movie. I get the impression that she never forgave herself for her perceived failure to help Billy. Maybe she ultimately gave up the habit and lost herself in an endless series of vodka bottles.
Everyone else in the movie is rather adequate. Billy’s parents are tragic, the killer Santa is frighteningly homicidal, Mr. Sims is comical, Mrs. Randall is annoying, Andy is a jerkwad, Pamela is sort of an airhead, Captain Richards is rather intense, Officer Barnes is overzealous and Linnea Quigley’s Denise exists only to add to the body count, but not before showing off most of her bare body. The only real standout among them is Will Hare as Grandpa Chapman. He brings a funny, but unnerving quality to his brief role. Genre fans may recognize him as Old Man Peabody from 1985’s Back to the Future (“Take that, you mutated son of a bitch!”).
only real FX work to be seen is for the gory and/or bloody deaths. Since
this is a low budget film, the examples of this range from good to passable
to almost laughable. Most deaths involving a blade of some sort are
just done by running the weapon along someone’s skin and letting
the fake blood pour out. It looks like someone applying ketchup to their
hotdog rather than someone’s skin being viciously cut apart. The
death involving the severed head isn’t too bad, since the bouncing
head is never shown too long. When we do see the detached noggin, it
is obvious that the actor is buried in the ground so that his head will
appear to be resting on the surface. The headless body is ok, though
it seems a little stiff. I’d expect the limbs to bounce around
a lot more for someone who just lost their head seconds previously.
The infamous antler impalement may be the least effective of all. When
shown in silhouette, it looks great, as does the image of the body hanging
there. It’s the false tummy being pierced by horns that look extremely
fake. Everything else – hammers in heads, arrows through the heart,
shards of glass in the face, gunshot wounds and axes in the chest –
looks pretty good, probably because the FX work for them was easier
to do. This is not the bloodiest or goriest film by any means, so don’t
expect a total blood bath. Conversely, there are thirteen deaths in
this film, some of them quite brutal, so be prepared.
With the decision to approach the film with the killer as the main character, there is a certain element of terror that is removed from the movie. At least, in my opinion that is so. We know from the very beginning that Billy is going to snap and kill people, so that removes a lot of the mystery. While its true that in other slasher films, we know there will be a killer chopping people into component parts, there is still the opportunity for some tension and straightforward terror that seems to be missing in this movie. That’s not to say that the film is completely devoid of them, because it isn’t. The murder of Billy’s parents on a cold, lonely road in the middle of nowhere is extremely frightening and unnerving in both its brutality and casualness. Other than that, I’d venture to say that only younger viewers would find this one scary in any way.
one element that seems to have been overlooked when the film was first
released was its depiction of violence and the effects of such on children.
While do-gooders were bitching about how the movie was a form of child
abuse, they were completely blind to the fact that the movie was in
essence, agreeing with them. Here we have a youth who was so traumatized
as a child, and who failed to receive the help that he truly needed,
that his mental state has no choice in how to cope with life’s
unpleasantness other than by picking up the mantle of what he perceived
Santa to be: a mythic figure who dispensed both presents and punishment.
To say that in the past, society has turned a blind eye to the needs
of similar children is an understatement. Just removing them from the
violence in no way saves them in the long run. They often need care
and proper guidance for years afterwards to help them come to grips
with what they have experienced. Further abuse, whether it be physical,
mental or emotional, can only serve to keep the cycle of violence going.
If there was any message that this film was trying to convey, it was
that children need to be both nurtured and protected even after the
apparent danger is gone.
Annoying Kids – Lots of kids in this film. Overall, if kids annoy you, this may not be your movie. Few are overly annoying, but they're still kids, so they get this icon regardless.
Crazed Killers – Not one, but two crazed killers! While the first one could be classified as just sadistic, cruel and dangerous, the second of the two killers is flat out certifiable.
Extreme Violence – Folks are shot, stabbed, strangled, impaled, gutted like a fish, beaten, have their throats slit and even beheaded. Just like parliament in third world countries!
Gore – While there is plenty of blood splattered, there really isn’t a whole lot of viscera to be seen. Still, severed heads bouncing down hills is enough to warrant this icon.
Nudity – For a film set during the height of winter, with snow on the ground and freezing temperatures outside, it manages to feature several sets of bare boobies.
Sex – Two teens get caught getting’ it on in the orphanage. This moment provides a vital lesson: lock the damn door behind you! Unless getting beaten by a nun is your thing.
Snow Hijinks – While taking place over thirteen years, the events of this film all occur in the month of December and since this is Utah, there is a lot of snow on the ground.
Alcoholic drinks consumed: 11
Santas harmed: 4
Snowmen harmed: 1
People Mother Superior beats with belt: 3
Times Mrs. Randall says Mr. Sims: 9
Gunshots fired: 10
Bare boobs: 7 (yes, an odd number)
Annoying kids: Too many to count
Times Billy says punish: 7
Times Billy says naughty: 5
Different instruments used to kill: 9
Min – No car seat?! Somebody call the CPS!
Shadow's Drinking Game: Any time a nun is on screen, take a drink. This method allows for getting hammered early in the film so one can sit back and relax while it unfolds, but be ready for some major drinking near the end of the film.
for larger image
One of Grandpa’s more wry observations.
Sims enthusiastically embraces closing time.
Mr. Sims: “Seven o’clock. It’s over! Time to get shitfaced!”
Shadow’s comment: My sentiments exactly when this film finally ended.
Film & Me
While working on this review, I continued to rack my brain, desperately trying to recall seeing any TV or print ads for this film when it had its brief theatrical run. Try as I might, my mind continued to come up blank. At first, I thought it was another symptom of old age creeping up on me (actually, more like galloping up on me), but after researching the film’s background, I learned that its entire west coast run had been cancelled due to the controversy surrounding it. No wonder I didn’t remember any TV ads for the film! They were never shown in this part of country! Thus, secure in the knowledge that my mind wasn’t totally gone, I remembered the first time I did hear of the film: when it debuted on home video. I had a friend in high school named Bill. Bill was part of a larger circle of friends and our group would hang out at the local pizza place after football games or movies. We referred to them as Pizza Destruction Nights. Don’t ask, you won’t wanna know (Mike, if you’re reading this, you know all too well). Anyway, my point is that Bill and I never really hung out together unless it was with the group. One Friday or Saturday night sometime in 1986 or 1987, everyone else in the group was out of town or otherwise unable to hang out, so Bill and I found ourselves together with little to do. Thus, we got some soda and pizza, rented three horror flicks and stayed up late having a movie festival. Silent Night Deadly Night was one of the films we watched, along with Mardi Gras Massacre. I have no idea what that third movie was now. That single viewing twenty plus years ago was the only time I ever saw the movie until I bought the DVD last month. At the time it seemed like pure exploitive crap. Now, I see a bit more substance under its crappy exterior. Don’t get me wrong…it’s still crap, but now it’s classic crap.
Shadow's rating: Six Tombstones