Silent Night, Bloody Night – 1974
The mansion… the madness… the maniac… no escape.
Patrick O’Neal – John Carter
James Patterson – Jeffrey Butler
Mary Woronov – Diane Adams
Astrid Heeren – Ingrid
John Carradine – Charlie Towman
Walter Abel – Mayor Adams
Fran Stevens – Tess Howard
Walter Klavun – Sheriff Bill Mason
Philip Bruns – Wilfred Butler (1929) (as Phillip Bruns)
Staats Cotsworth – Wilfred Butler (voice)
Ondine – Chief Inmate
Tally Brown – Inmate
Lewis Love – Inmate
Candy Darling – Guest
Harvey Cohen – Inmate
Hetty MacLise – Inmate
Jay Garner – Doctor Robinson
Donelda Dunne – Marianne Butler (Age 15)
Charlotte Fairchild – Guest
Michael Pendry – Doctor (as Michael Pendrey)
Alex Stevens – Burning Man
Barbara Sand – Guest
Lisa Blake Richards – Maggie Daly (as Lisa Richards)
John Randolph Jones –
George Strus – Doctor
Grant Code – Wilfred Butler (Age 80)
Debbie Parness – Marianne Butler (Age 8)
George Trakas – Inmate
Susan Rothenberg – Inmate
Cleo Young – Inmate
Kirsten Steen – Inmate (as Kristin Steen)
Jack Smith – Inmate
Leroy Lessane – Inmate
Bob Darchi – Inmate
Review by Sven Soetemans
Massively underrated Brit-shocker!
This is a slow and complex but primarily atmospheric horror gem that’ll certainly divide its audiences into two extreme categories. Either you admire the ingeniousness of the premise and rate it as a unique fright-experience…OR you can’t get past the poor production values and/or the enormous script errors and label it as pure garbage. Fact remains that Theodore Gershuny’s “Silent Night, Bloody Night” is a one-of-a-kind movie that at least tries to be original and genuinely creepy, even though it doesn’t always succeed.
The story is a slowly developing murder-mystery, set in a dark and deadbeat US region where the people avoid outsiders and hide macabre secrets from the past. It is there where Jeffrey Butler, his attorney and his mistress arrive to sell the mansion Jeffrey inherited from his grandfather. Through plot-twists and flashbacks, the hideous and traumatizing events that took place inside the mansion slowly become public. The Butler mansion’s past is a horrific one; involving rape, incest, murder and insanity.
The pacing is slow and the atmosphere is unimaginably grim! Gershuny didn’t have the budget to bring excitement and action so he obviously focuses fully on the obscurity of the theme and the ominous set pieces. Every trick to create tension without a big budget being required is richly present: dark camera-work, voice-overs, antipathetic and silent characters, chilling music (a creepy version of the Christmas carol Silent Night, Holy Night!!) and – most importantly – an unidentified madman constantly walking in darkness!
This film is hugely compelling and you definitely will try and understand every little detail of the confusing plot. Regretfully enough, the flaws and illogicality’s are omnipresent and I can easily understand that many people can’t possibly take this movie seriously. Poor lighting and continuity mistakes are forgiveable but there are other, far worse, errors that’ll make you frown your eyebrows; like the constant switching of lead and supportive characters or the truly amateurish sound editing (> several conversations can’t be heard no matter how much you increase the volume).
The concluding 15 minutes is a true horror feast and there are at least two or three sequences that will satisfy the most demanding gorehounds (lunatics with axes and other sharp objects…do I need to say more?). The acting is overall decent, with a couple of real heavyweights in the supportive cast; such as Walter Abel as the mayor and no other than John Carradine as the town’s reporter. His character doesn’t speak but rings a buzzer every time he has a remark…rather eerie!
All together, I would definitely claim that ‘Silent Night, Bloody Night’ is great viewing for horror fanatics, although most people better await a properly restored DVD-version. The disc I own has a quality resembling that of old videotapes that got played for over a gazillion times already. Many fans and websites also compare this gem with the 1974 ‘Black Christmas’ but I fail to aside from that, they’re two entirely different kinds of creepiness. see a proper connection. The two only share the theme of holiday-horror but,aside from that, they’re two entirely different kinds of creepiness.