The "Expendables" franchise keeps bringing us back to the Reagan era, but a new horror release reminds us the '80s were also chockablock with slasher films.
"Silent Night," out in select theaters now but coming to Blu-ray and DVD tomorrow, is the latest attempt to turn jolly ol' St. Nick into another Jason, Freddy or Michael Myers.
The loose remake of the 1984 splatter film arrives with far less outrage than its predecessor, a shock flick which spawned several sequels. Commercials for that film drew protests, a subject addressed by famed film critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert on their landmark review program.
"Your profits truly are blood money," said Siskel during his review of the film, castigating the creative team and producers behind the "Santa as serial killer" endeavor.
Today, the culture greets the very notion of "Silent Night" with a collective shrug. Make of that what you will.
The new "Night" is an upgrade over the original thanks to slick production values and a credible lead performance by Jaime King. Otherwise, it's been there, slashed that, and very few bona fide scares emerge.
King plays Deputy Sheriff Audrey Bradimore, a young woman whose career confusion comes into focus when a serial killer dressed as Santa hits her town. The stores and streets are clogged with faux Santas, making Audrey's job a little harder. So is the constant pressure from her superior, a smug crime solver overplayed badly by Malcolm McDowell.
Director Steven C. Miller stages this "ultra-violence" with a steady, professional hand. He doesn't embrace the slasher template so much as buy it a fancy present wrapped in a blood-soaked bow.
King desperately tries to keep our attention on her plucky cop character while the body count continues to spike. Donal Logue adds friction as a foul-mouthed Santa wannabe, but his character isn't weaved into the story enough to matter.
As for the killer himself, credit a creepy mask and that by-the-book slasher gait which makes the film's villain a monster of some consequence.
"Silent Night" is for horror fans only, and specifically those who genuflect at the altar of cleverly constructed kill scenes.
The Blu-ray extras include deleted scenes and raw behind-the-scenes footage from the production. The latter arrives with no pre-packaged comments or other organizational effort. Somehow, its crude presentation provides a more authentic glimpse into the production than your typical featurettes as we watch some of the third act violence come into focus.