Santa Showdown: “BLACK CHRISTMAS (2006) vs. “SILENT NIGHT” (2012)

Jingle the Bells! Hit the lights! In celebration of FANGORIA’s re-release of the remastered original SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT (now in theaters!), we present to you SANTA SHOWDOWN, a battle between the more gruesome ghosts of Christmas Past. So sit down by the fire, enjoy some eggnog and pray neither of these Christmas killers make their way down your chimney…

As  SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT hits cinemas, today’s SANTA SHOWDOWN is going to be a rematch from our first round, but this time with a little bit of new blood injected into the bout. We pit the remakes of SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT and BLACK CHRISTMAS against each other. There’s going to be blood in the snow from this gruesome grudge match; who will be the last seasonal slayer standing?!

Off the bat, it should be addressed at how loose the word “remake” should be applied to both of these films, as aside from the title and certain plot points / kill sequences, there’s very little connective tissue. BLACK CHRISTMAS (2006) burns down the ambiguity that penetrated every frame of Bob Clark’s original, choosing instead to further investigate the sick and twisted past of “Billy”. While there is some intrigue over the Killer’s identity within the narrative, there’s little to suggest in the way of audience expectation, as the disgusting history has already been revealed and cemented as imperative to the story. However, SILENT NIGHT (2012) does the opposite, completely eschewing the previous story of Billy and Ricky and setting up a completely different narrative that follows a serial killer who dresses up like Santa to murder the “naughty.”

Nevertheless, the films both carry the names of their ancestors and both bring their legacies into a new generation. Surprisingly, BLACK CHRISTMAS (2006) is the more adventurous of the two, using the more relaxed modern standards from the MPAA to tie together both gory kills and a completely taboo back-story for its antagonist. Meanwhile, SILENT NIGHT (2012) certainly doesn’t scale anything down in the gore department, but never feels as if it’s breaking any boundaries or shaking audiences as much as the original had.

Technically speaking, I’d have to give the round to BLACK CHRISTMAS (2006), which benefits from solid and focused direction courtesy of WILLARD (2003) director Glen Morgan and some rather imaginative cinematography from Robert McLachlan. The special FX by Rory Cutler are also impressive, using the most out of the holiday scenery to rack up a higher body count than the original. The film also carried a long string of producers, including Clark, mogul Mark Cuban, Canadian horror fixture Steve Hoban and Morgan’s FINAL DESTINATION collaborator James Wong.

To be fair, SILENT NIGHT (2012) didn’t have the support of a studio venture to reach those same heights, even if it did succeed at doing some unconventional things technically. Some of the shots from cinematographer Joseph White are pretty impressive, and the work by Paul Noel and Opus FX are incredibly well done. Unfortunately, this remake does suffer from a terrible tonal imbalance, unable to have certain stretches of funny characterization to live alongside the genuinely creepy death scenes.

blackxmasWhere these films truly face off is casting, as both carry a heavy pedigree of performers. BLACK CHRISTMAS (2006) almost feels like a rogues gallery of excellent up-and-coming actresses, with Lacey Chabert, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Crystal Lowe, Michelle Trachtenberg (dead, left) and Katie Cassidy, as well as Andrea Martin filling in as Mrs. Mac, all of whom go above and beyond what would normally be expected in a slasher film. SILENT NIGHT (2012) on the other hand assembles a good collection of genre performers, including Jaime King, Malcolm McDowall, Donal Logue, Ellen Wong and Brendan Fehr. In this category, the duel is basically a draw, as the BLACK CHRISTMAS (2006) cast keeps their performances closer to reality while the cast of SILENT NIGHT (2012) embraces the insanity within their world.

What this battle truly comes down to, however, is the decisive gore factor, as each film offers up a fair share of blood and grue to fill a stocking and then some. SILENT NIGHT (2012) may win in the quantity of it all, offering immolation, electrocution and much more, including a nod to the most iconic kill of the original. But in what it lacks in quantity, BLACK CHRISTMAS (2006) offers in pure resonation, as every kill actually feels like it has a brutal impact to the audience and a consequence to the story. The BLACK CHRISTMAS (2006) kills are uniquely stylized as well, making them more memorable in terms of who is getting iced.

It had to go down to the judges, but BLACK CHRISTMAS (2006) has the upperhand. Both films are undoubtedly fun and more gruesome than their predecessors, with great performances at different sides of the spectrum. BLACK CHRISTMAS (2006) carries much more weight in terms of the story and the effectiveness of the horror, and wears its cringeworthy elements as a badge of honor. However, if you can’t choose between the two, why not place both under the tree for an unholy double feature this holiday season?

For more information, showtimes and theater listings for FANGORIA Presents and Screenvision’s re-release of SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT,  please visit FANGORIA On Screen.

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About the author
Ken W. Hanley
Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel "THE I IN EVIL", and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
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