Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972)

First, though, you need to know what I mean by “magnificent.” I LOVE movies that appear “dark” and “low budget” because it gives them a eerie dimension not seen in 21st century attempts at horror. Growing up during the early ’70’s, I am, too, a bit wistful for these days long gone, so, I appreciate the marked quality difference in these films because that’s how the past is…somewhat dark and “fuzzy.” Darkness and less-than-perfect-images are very appropriate for a horror film.

Silent Night, Bloody Night is a magnificent, appropriate name for this movie, but the title has little to remind the viewer what time of the year it is. We ARE told, though, that Wilfred Butler died on Christmas Eve 1950, and the horrible events that unfold twenty years later occur during the Yuletide season. Aside from the mayor whistling Silent Night and his lovely daughter wrapping a gift in black and white, diamond-designed early ’70’s “mod” paper, there is little else seasonal about this film.

Patrick O’Neal plays lawyer/real estate agent Jack Carter who comes to town to sell the beautiful, old home of Wilfred Butler, who has not been seen by his neighbors in years. The house, however, has been kept in immaculate repair by his caretaker, and there is much speculation why his grandson, Jeffrey, would sell it for a mere $50,000. When word spreads through the communtiy that the mansion is to be sold, the message reaches an insane asylum nearby,prompting an inmate’s escape and a night of terror. But be prepared for twists and turns and a mystery; this is no modern-day mindless thrasher-slasher.

The parts are played very well. The plot is good. Wilfred Butler was eccentric, and in the film’s final segment you will come to understand that this is an understatement. Silent Night, Bloody Night is scary and it transports you to that “other Earth” where horror occurs to people in and around big old houses. And, most important for this viewer, it takes you back to how we once were…and how a lot of films really looked in those days!