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Silent Night, Bloody Night

USA 1974
produced by
Ami Artzi, Jeffrey Konvitz, Lloyd Kaufman (associate), Frank Vitale (associate) for Armor Films, Zora Investments Associate, Cannon
directed by Theodore Gershuny
starring Patrick O'Neal, James Patterson, Mary Woronov, Astrid Heeren, John Carradine, Walter Abel, Fran Stevens, Walter Klavun, Philip Bruns, Staats Cotsworth (voice), Ondine, Tally Brown, Lewis Love, Candy Darling, Harvey Cohen, Hetty MacListe, Jay Garner, Donelda Dunne, Charlotte Fairchild, Michael Pendry, Alex Stevens, Barbara Sand, Lisa Blake Richards, John Randolph Jones, George Strus, Grant Cole, Debbie Parness
story by Jeffrey Konvitz, Ira Teller, screenplay by Jeffrey Konvitz, Ira Teller, Theodore Gershuny, music by Gershon Kingsley

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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20 years ago, Wilfred Butler burned to death, however, much of this death was shrouded in mystery. Now, Butler's grandson Jeffrey (James Patterson) wants to sell his father's house because he needs some money. But the lawyer (Patrick O'Neal) he sends to finalize the sale - to the town, actually - is soon slaughtered along with his girlfriend (Astrid Heeren) when he spends a night at the house.

After that, several people are called to the house by someone who claims to be Maryanne, Wilfred Butler's thought dead daughter, including the local sheriff (Walter Klavun), the local switchboard operator (Fran Stevens) and the owner of the local newspaper (John Carradine, in a mute role) - and they are slaughtered as well.

Eventually, Jeffrey Butler hits town and soon becomes friendly with the mayor's (Walter Abel) daughter Diane (Mary Woronov), and they try to figure out what's going on. They find out that Wilfred Butler's house had been turned into an asylum many years ago when he realized that his daughter Maryanne has gone off the hook after she had been raped and subsequently given birth to Jeff - who was soon after sent away and told his mother had died at childbirth. However, what happened to the asylum and its inmates seems to be erased from all the town records. To find out that, Jeff and Diane have to actually go to the Butler house and find Wilfred Butler's diary - which tells Jeff that his mother was actually raped by none other than her own father who then turned his house into an asylum for her sake, but when he found out the doctors at the asylum were mere charlatans, he released all the asylum's inmates from their cells and they slaughtered the doctors ... and Maryanne as well. The inmates in question were of course the dead sheriff, the dead switchboard operator and the dead newspaper-owner ... and the mayor. Above all that, Jeff also finds out that Wilfred Butler has only staged his own death and must be waiting somewhere in the wings to make his next killing ... by that time though, the mayor has entered the house, and when he startles jeff, both men pull their guns and shoot each other dead. It's only then that the killer - Wilfred Butler of course - attacks Diane, but she is packing a gun as well and shoots him before he can even as much as touch her. But still, in one go she has lost her boyfriend and her father ...

 


Quite obviously, this is a cheaply produced independent film, but that doesn't make the film bad, actually not bad at all: Silent Night, Bloody Night is actually a moody blend of all-out horror, murder mystery and serialkiller flick in the slasher tradition (a genre that did not even hit it bigtime until a few years later) that features an intelligent plot that features enough unusual twists and turns to keep one interested. Unfortunately, the film does occasionally fall short of its promises: At tiems the script is rather inconsistent and uneven and does not do its interesting basic plot justice, some scenes simply lack the power they should have had (due most probably to budgetary restrictions) and in some scenes the film is simply lacking the necessary suspense - but all of this is not enough to really destroy the film.

Probably not for everyone, but if you're into 1970's independent shockers, especially of the weird variety, then you should probably watch this one.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD