Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972)

Poster for Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972)Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972) by #TheodoreGershuny

w/#PatrickONeal #MaryWoronov #JohnCarradine

A man inherits an old mansion which once was a mental home and is soon stalked by an ax murderer.

“The mansion… the madness… the maniac… no escape.”

#Xmas #Horror

I used to walk over to Jumbo Video with my friends (or sometimes alone) in the middle of the night. It was the first video store we had that was open 24 hours – and that seemed unreasonably cool to us. Sometimes you’d go to a late movie and then walk home and you’d realize that you were in the mood to watch two more movies and order pizza – but it was already after midnight! In the old days you’d be stuck watching whatever was on TV or – if you were lucky enough to have any – whatever VHS tapes you had in your collection. But truth be told, we didn’t really have collections yet.

VHS and Beta tapes were super expensive to buy – when they were available at all – and previously viewed movies hadn’t really been invented yet.

So, we rented movies whenever we could.

As I may have mentioned before, Jumbo Video had a horror castle – which was a room full of more horror films than anyone ever knew existed – and we always spent a lot of time wandering around inside of it. If we had rented a movie every day it would have still taken us years to see all of these obscure gems. And there were new ones being added all the time. Put simply, this castle was a horror junkie’s paradise.

VHS box for Christmas Evil (1980)I remember a little mini section of Christmas horror films on one of the shelves. This was before I had seen any of them, and my friends and I wold look at the boxes and laugh. Yes, we would laugh at the idea of Christmas being the subject of a scary movie. Halloween made sense to us. Friday the 13th made sense to us. Even Prom Night made sense, as we were all a little bit afraid of school dances. But titles like Christmas Evil (1980), Black Christmas (1974), and Don’t Open Till Christmas (1984) just seemed a little silly to us.

We knew about Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984), and how it had been pulled from the theatres due to some moral outrage – but we had not seen the movie yet. We could, however, see its influence as there were similar titles on the shelf, like Silent Night, Evil Night (which it turns out was a retitling of Black Christmas), and Silent Night, Bloody Night – which it turns out was made twelve years before the notorious Santa Claus slasher film.

VHS box for Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972)I eventually saw Silent Night, Deadly Night and I liked it. Then I saw Black Christmas (1974) and loved it. After that I watched every Christmas related horror film that I could get my hands on. This led me to eventually, pick up an old beat up VHS copy of Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972) and I thought it was pretty good. It had Mary Woronov in it, who I knew from Eating Raoul (1982) and a few other films.

Honestly, I think I found Silent Night, Bloody Night a tad confusing the first time I saw it. It probably didn’t help that it was a bad film print which had been cropped and transferred to a cheapo VHS tape (which had likely been somewhat abused before I bought it). The image was dark and fuzzy, and the sound was slightly muffled. Still, there was something I liked about the movie, so I kept it in my collection.

It grew on me over the years, as I watched it a few more times. Then I picked up a nice widescreen DVD that was almost in good shape – and it was like a whole new movie to me. I felt like I appreciated it more than I ever had before. Maybe I had simply finally seen it enough times, or maybe that widescreen image made all the difference. Whatever the case, I can now honestly say that I love this movie. And watching it last friday – on Christmas Eve – really confirmed that for me.

Don’t get me wrong. Black Christmas (1974) is still the greatest Xmas horror film of all time, in my opinion. And Christmas Evil (1980) is also very special to me – but that’s another story.

Silent Night, Bloody Night actually has some things in common with Black Christmas (1974). It’s kind of a proto-slasher film. I have to wonder if the filmmakers were influenced by some of the great giallos that had come before it. It has a great location/setting (the mansion that used to be a mental institution). It has some really great horror atmosphere, as only the movies of the early 1970s seem to have. It has suspense, and a sense of dread. And it has John Carradine instead of John Saxon – both genre legends whose films run the gamut from masterpieces to trash. 

Other interesting facts:

Mary Woronov was one of Andy Warhol’s superstars – and there are at least two others in Silent Night, Bloody Night: Ondine & Candy Darling. Woronov was also apparently married to the director, Theodore Gershuny, at one time. 

Lloyd Kaufman, legendary filmmaker and co-founder of Troma, was an associate producer of Silent Night, Bloody Night – or Ass Prod as I once called him on Twitter, to which he responded: “yes I was “ass producer!”… I still an “Ass Producer” check out @Return2NukeEm vol1″ – but I digress.

Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972) is #NotQuiteClassicCinema that could bring the merry good times to any #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn – particularly one that falls on or around Xmas Eve. I know that I will continue to enjoy it for many years to come.

Trash Or Terror Tuesday: Movie House Massacre / Blood Theatre (1984)

It’s time for #TrashOrTerrorTuesday

…when I examine a film that’s been languishing in my personal library to determine if it is #Trash or #Terror

– or more importantly, if it deserves to stay in my collection.

And so, out from the dusty shelves of #VHS tapes comes…

The VHS box for Movie House Massacre / Blood Theatre (1984)Movie House Massacre / Blood Theatre (1984) by #RickSloane


An old movie house plagued with a history of unexplained tragedies is reopened with bloody history repeating itself.

“When the movie starts … the terror begins!”

#Horror #Slasher


Movie House Massacre (1984) got panned in every movie review book I read back in the days before the internet rendered those books somewhat obsolete (although I still love to flip through them and read the opinions of reviewers I trust). As a result, I avoided renting this one for a number of years – but when I found a cheap VHS copy for sale in a bargain bin, I simply couldn’t resist buying it. For one thing, it had Mary Woronov in it, and I’ve been a fan of hers since first seeing Eating Raoul (1982). For another thing, I believed it to a be a slasher film, and I’ve always thought that slasher films are kind of like pizza: even when they’re bad, they’re still pretty good.

Of course, the older I get, the more I prefer good pizza to bad pizza – and yes, there is such a thing as bad pizza that really isn’t good at all. More to the point, watching Movie House Massacre for the first time in decades has to led me to question whether or not it is in fact a slasher film. It seems to be more of a weird supernatural story. There are some slasher-like killings, but not enough to sustain it – and most of them happen in the very final moments of the film. The first two thirds of the story seems more like a bad attempt at comedy. Mary Woronov is the best thing in this film, and she did make me laugh a couple of times, but she really doesn’t have enough to do (just like Linda Blair in last week’s #trash-fest).  

So what’s the verdict?

Movie House Massacre / Blood Theatre (1984) is #Trash. It’s certainly not scary – and that would be perfectly okay if it was funny, but it only manages an occasional laugh or smile. Mary Woronov completists might want to see it, but… I enjoyed it much more the first time I watched it, after my expectations had been sufficiently lowered by all of the bad reviews I had read. Perhaps if I am negative enough here, I will give other people the same opportunity to be pleasantly surprised by it. So with that in mind…

Don’t watch this movie. It’s a “grindingly bad slasher” — James O’Neill, Terror On Tape. Not only that, it’s “too sophomoronic and leadenly unfunny to work.” — L.A. Morse, Video Trash & Treasures. If that isn’t enough to dissuade you, it currently rates a 2.9 on the IMDb. This movie is bad pizza bad. Don’t waste your hunger on it, when there’s much better bad pizza to be had.