Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Friday, December 28, 2018


Mary Woronov
SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT (aka Deathhouse aka Night of the Dark Full Moon/1972.) Director: Theodore Gershuny.

On Christmas Eve in 1950 in the small town of Arlington, Massachusetts, a man named Wilfred Butler (Philip Bruns) is burned to death. Twenty years later his grandson Jeffrey (James Patterson) wants to sell the house and uses a lawyer named Carter (Patrick O'Neal) to work out the details with the town council. Unfortunately, a maniac has escaped from a nearby mental institution for the criminally insane, and Carter and his very pretty girlfriend, Ingrid (Astrid Hereen) become victims of a bloody (but poorly staged) ax attack. Diane Adams (Mary Woronov of Eating Raoul), the daughter of the mayor (Walter Abel), meets up with Jeffrey and the two run around trying to find out what the hell's happening when more people start disappearing. Before the bloody holiday evening is through, there will be more deaths and more than one revelation.

Patrick O'Neal
Silent Night, Bloody Night is by no means a great horror flick but it does have points of interest. For one thing there's the participation of O'Neal [The Mad Magician] and veteran actor Abel [Mirage], although it's no big surprise to find John Carradine in a low-budget fright flick like this. There are also interesting but not necessarily well-thought-out elements to the plot which mixes in insanity, incest (or was I hearing things?), small towns with a dread secret, and even a little bit of Edgar Allen Poe thrown in (sort of borrowing from one of his classic short stories). The film moves fast enough so that some of its illogical aspects are just glossed over. The twisting plot line reminds one a bit of Dario Argento's Italian shockers, but this movie hasn't got much style, although the flashback scenes are kind of creepy and effective.

Walter Abel as the mayor
Mary Woronov's performance is a bit off, but that may be because she seems over-dubbed at times. She was married to the movie's director at the time. James Patterson was a Tony award-winning actor who died of cancer the year this film was released. Theodore Gershuny directed a couple of more movies and wrote and directed episodes of some TV horror shows such as Tales from the Darkside and Monsters. As Woronov had once been a member of Andy Warhol's entourage, the flashback party sequence features such other Warhol regulars as Ondine and Candy Darling. Silent Night, Bloody Night has a fascinating premise, but the execution is too uneven for it to be the classic shocker it could have been.

Verdict: Interesting very early "slasher" film with an intriguing cast. **1/2. 


angelman66 said...

Have never seen this one but it has been on my should-see list, as I am a fan of both Woronov and Patrick ONeal —he is so delightfully slimy as Diz in one of my favorite suspense films, Tne Stepford Wives.
- Chris

William said...

Yes, this one has curiosity value if nothing else, and Andy Warhol's troupe as extras!