For horror fans, Christmas isn’t complete without a killer Santa. And while there are plenty of those in horror movies, perhaps none are as iconic as 1984’s Silent Night, Deadly Night. Having to be pulled from theaters due to a massive backlash and moral panic, it also gave way to an entire franchise with very high highs and low lows. So in honor of the Christmas season, we thought it would be fun to look at and rank every Silent Night, Deadly Night movie!
6. Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (1987)
Aside from the unintentionally hilarious “Garbage Day” scene, what about this movie is even memorable or worth watching? Half its runtime is just flashbacks of scenes from the previous movie and its behind the scenes drama is far more interesting than the movie itself.
Billy was at least an interesting and conflicted character whereas Ricky is just played over the top and cartoonishly evil. Sure it’s a fun movie to riff on with friends, but that’s precisely why it has to be at the bottom of this list.
5. Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation (1990)
At this point, the franchise sort of just turned into random script and story ideas with Christmas sloppily tacked on, along with the “Silent Night, Deadly Night” title. This one deals with a reporter who’s trying to get to the bottom of a cult and it goes to some very strange and dark places.
This movie is definitely more of a ripoff of Society than it is a sequel to anything that came before it. It has some creative production design and practical effects. But it doesn’t even really feel like a Christmas movie or a killer Santa movie in any way, shape, or form.
4. Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out (1989)
Ricky gets a bit of an upgrade here with the casting of Bill Moseley, but the movie itself feels like it doesn’t really start until the second half. The entire first half is just more reused footage from the original, and setting up Ricky and a new psychic character that has a connection to him.
When it actually turns into a Christmas slasher movie, it gets fun, albeit only for about a half hour. In hindsight, it just makes you wish Moseley had chewed up the scenery in the 2nd movie, which he definitely would have.
3. Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toymaker (1991)
Much like its predecessor, SNDN 5 seems to have nothing to do with the other installments (save for a brief scene with Clint Howard playing Ricky), but it’s actually a semi-decent standalone horror movie.
We’ve got random toys going defective and finding ways to kill people, so that’s always fun. And at its core, it’s a horror version of Pinocchio with Mickey Rooney as “Joe Petto”. That said, his casting seems pretty hypocritical since he was among the people who famously protested the first movie’s release.
Although he claimed he had no idea it was a sequel to that movie, and given how little this has to do with the others, that’s plausible.
2. Silent Night (2012)
In a rare feat, the slasher remake is (almost) as good as the original. Sure it’s cheap, sleazy, and kind of over the top, but then again look at the original. It plays up more of a murder mystery vibe where the small town itself feels like a character with an ensemble of interesting characters, headed by people like Jaime King and Malcolm McDowell, both of whom elevate the very “direct to video” script they’ve been given.
It features great kills and feels more like its own movie than shot-for-shot the same, and that’s exactly what a remake is supposed to be. It’s very much of its era with the focus on exploitation style kills, nudity, and nasty people, but it’s also brimming with Christmas imagery, even more so than the original.
1. Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
In the early 80s, slashers were a dime a dozen, but Silent Night, Deadly Night stood apart from many others by actually trying to focus on things like character and story. Unlike many of its contemporaries, this movie’s killer was a character we got to know from the beginning and whose internal struggle and conflict we saw play out.
In a movie that wasn’t exactly made to be an award contender, the original Silent Night, Deadly Night actually spends a lot of time on its main character and the ultimate tragedy that he can’t overcome the trauma of his childhood. It’s better than a schlocky killer Santa movie had any business being.
Which ones were your favorites? Let us know in the comments!