Silent Night, Deadly Night 1 & 2 (DVD Review)

Silent Night, Deadly Night was a mean spirited little entry in the slasher canon that carried more notoriety on its shoulders than it was worth. Not to say it’s a bad slasher – it does manage some moments that get under your skin – like the suddenly non-comatose grandfather and the nighttime family assault that sets the trauma for the murders to come. Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 is just camp all the way. I can’t only justify it any other way. Except to say, its liberal use of footage from the first film makes it a good two-in-one if you want to watch part one trimmed of its fat.

It’s AB, which ensures the movies are both widescreen and crystal clear in both picture and sound, but there is an aspect on the first entry of note – when you see previously cut gore footage, the quality changes to muddy. If that was the best quality source availible, I’m cool with that – and AB had the pre-thought to mention this fact straight up at the start of the DVD.

Unfortunately the extras are a little topsy turvy – SNDN2 has more while SNDN1 has less then it should. For example, we get the screenplay for part two but not for part one – when the website listed in the included booklet (by Adam Rockoff) had a copy available for use.

Part one features an audio interview with director Charles E. Sellier Jr. conducted by Adam Rockoff (my guess, probably culled from the raw tapes of his Going To Pieces research). Rockoff asks all the right questions and Sellier still seems ashamed of the film after all these years – but hey, he consented to talk about it and that should be applauded.

The features – Santa’s Stocking of Outrage and the Poster/Still Gallery adequately cover the journey of an exploitation film both visually and via text. Mickey Rooney even slams the film viciously – only to later star as the lead in Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toymaker!

Part 2 features an audio commentary by writer/director Lee Harry, writer Joseph H. Earle and actor James Newman. While the director and the writer have interesting things to say and balance their thoughts between knowingness (and agreement) of the film’s reputation and quiet appreciation of the small victories they did pull off, actor Newman, who played the psychiatrist, takes the stand-up approach, cracking wise thus audibly cutting down the boys’ attempts to relate straight info.

A fairly pedestrian theatrical trailer for part two is featured, as is the original screenplay but the low key gravy is the Still Gallery – it contains original storyboards which show that indeed, work did go into creating SNDN2.

Both menus and packaging are in a festive holiday style, thanks to AB’s great design team. I guess the only qualm I would have is that there is no usual insert featuring original art. I have double disc cover art getting mussed up by having to squeeze in two cover art representations. But hey, that’s just me nitpicking – this is AB’s best looking package so far – no small feat!

This release is now Out Of Print.

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