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Silent Night, Bloody Night

Silent Night, Bloody Night
Silent Night, Bloody Night film poster
Directed by Theodore Gershuny
Produced by Ami Artzi
Jeffrey Konvitz
Lloyd Kaufman
Frank Vitale
Screenplay by Theodore Gershuny
Jeffrey Konvitz
Ira Teller
Story by Theodore Gershuny
Jeffrey Konvitz
Ira Teller
Starring Patrick O'Neal
James Patterson
Mary Woronov
John Carradine
Music by Gershon Kingsley
Cinematography Adam Giffard
Edited by Tom Kennedy
Armor Films Inc.
Cannon Productions
Jeffrey Konvitz Productions
Zora Investments Associates
Release dates
November 1972
Running time
85 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $295,000 (estimated)

Silent Night, Bloody Night (Also released as Night of the Dark Full Moon and Death House[1]) is a 1972 American horror film directed by Theodore Gershuny and co-produced by Lloyd Kaufman. The film stars Patrick O'Neal and cult actress Mary Woronov in leading roles, with John Carradine in a supporting performance. The plot follows a series of murders that occur in a small town on Christmas Eve after a man inherits a family estate which was once an insane asylum.

Many of the cast and crew members were former Warhol superstars: Mary Woronov, Ondine, Candy Darling, Kristen Steen, Tally Brown, Lewis Love, filmmaker Jack Smith and artist Susan Rothenberg.[2] It was filmed in Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York in 1970 but was not released theatrically until 1972.


On Christmas Eve 1950, Wilfred Butler runs out of his rural house and appears to have been set on fire. He collapses in the snow and is believed to be dead.

Years later, lawyer John Carter and his assistant Ingrid arrive in a small Massachusetts town on Christmas Eve. John meets with the town's nobles, Mayor Adams, Tess Howard, Sheriff Bill Mason and Charlie Towman. John is revealed to be the lawyer of Jeffrey Butler, Wilfred's grandson, and is trying to sell the Butler mansion for $50,000 by noon the next day. After a call to his wife, John is revealed to be having an affair with Ingrid, his assistant. The two stay the night at the Butler mansion, unaware that they are being watched. After dinner, the two go upstairs to a bedroom to have sex. The mysterious person walks in on them and kills them both with a felling axe. The killer calls the police and reveals himself to be "Marianne."

After Tess, who is the town's phone operator, intercepts the call, she leaves her assistant in charge and drives out to the Butler mansion. Marianne greets Tess, who is visibly frightened. She is knocked over the head repeatedly with a candle holder. At the same time, Sheriff Mason is heading to the mansion, but stops at the nearby cemetery after seeing a disturbed gravesite from the road. Upon approaching the grave, he discovers it is Wilfred Butler's, and that the grave has been dug up and Butler's body removed. He is struck over the head and killed, and falls into the grave.

Mayor Adams receives a strange phone call asking him to go to the Butler mansion; he leaves his adult daughter Diane at home alone. Not long after Adams leaves, a man arrives at the house and says his name is Jeffrey Butler, Wilfred's grandson. Jeffrey says he found the sheriff's car abandoned at the cemetery and "borrowed" it. After a brief conversation, Diane and Jeffrey go up to the cemetery to look for the sheriff. They stumble upon Wilfred's disturbed grave, but find no sight of the sheriff. The two go into town to Towman's to see if they can find out what is happening.

Jeffrey takes Towman to the mansion and leaves him there to go back and retrieve Diane. Jeffrey hits and kills Towman, who had been stabbed in the eyes. Diane's suspicions of Jeffrey start to grow after this incident. The two enter the house and Jeffrey finds an old diary. The diary reveals that Wilfred had an incestuous relationship with his daughter, Marianne, and Jeffrey was the result. Wilfred turned the mansion into an asylum and admitted his own daughter. He soon regretted his decision and set loose the inmates. The inmates killed all the doctors and Marianne in the process. Jeffrey reveals that Towman, Mayor Adams, Tess Howard and Sheriff Bill Mason were inmates that stayed behind in town.

Mayor Adams finally arrives to the mansion and finds Diane and Jeffrey there. Adams and Jeffrey hold each other at gunpoint, believing the other to be the killer. The two open fire, killing each other. A distraught Diane is greeted by "Marianne," who is really Wilfred Butler. Butler went after John Carter, Mayor Adams, Tess Howard, and Sheriff Bill Mason to get revenge for his daughter's death and used his grandson/son as a decoy. Diane grabs Jeffrey's gun and shoots Butler. A year later, Diane takes one last look at the Butler mansion before it is destroyed by a bulldozer crew.


  • Patrick O'Neal as John Carter
  • James Patterson as Jeffrey Butler
  • Mary Woronov as Diane Adams
  • Astrid Heeren as Ingrid
  • John Carradine as Charlie Towman
  • Walter Abel as Mayor Adams
  • Fran Stevens as Tess Howard
  • Walter Klavun as Sheriff Bill Mason
  • Philip Bruns as Wilfred Butler (1929) (as Phillip Bruns)
  • Staats Cotsworth as Wilfred Butler (voice)
  • Jay Garner as Dr. Robinson
  • Donelda Dunne as Marianne Butler (age 15)
  • Michael Pendry as Doctor
  • Lisa Blake Richards as Maggie Daly
  • Grant Code as Wilfred Butler (age 80)
  • Debbie Parness as Marianne Butler (age 8)
  • Charlotte Fairchild as Guest
  • Barbara Sand as Guest
  • Candy Darling as Guest


Silent Night, Bloody Night played primarily at drive-in theaters beginning in November 1972 before disappearing into obscurity. The film was later shown on Elvira's Movie Macabre, part of WWOR-TV's Fright Night beginning in 1978, and became a staple of late-night television in the November and December months.[3] Despite the film's dark subject matter and depictions of violence, the network chose to air it at Christmastime each year. Executive Larry Casey commented on it, saying, "Don't get me wrong. I loved White Christmas and traditional holiday movies. But how many times can you watch those things? We always pushed the envelope on Fright Night, and Silent Night, Bloody Night was a great fit. WOR never got any complaints for showing it that I heard about."[3]

Critical reception

Allmovie called it a "minor gem", complementing the film's "eerie atmosphere" and noting its place as a predecessor to the slasher film genre.[4] Leonard Maltin gave the film two stars, calling it an "uneven low-budgeter."[5] The film was featured in the book 150 Movies You Should Die Before You See, where it was written that the film "manages to disappoint on every level."[6]

Home media

Since its release the film has fallen into public domain[2] and is now available on DVD from various entertainment companies that specialize in public domain films, though many of the prints on these editions are of extremely poor quality.[7] The majority of the prints used on DVDs were sourced from a VHS transfer released by Paragon Video in the 1980s.

A high-definition restored print of the film (sourced from the original master of the Death House print) was released on DVD by Film Chest on December 10, 2013. The same print was also used for a DVD release by boutique company Code Red in 2013, in a limited edition double-feature paired with Invasion of the Blood Farmers (1972).

Remake and sequel

On December 9, 2011, the website Dread Central announced that a remake of the film will be remade by UK production company North Bank Entertainment as Silent Night, Bloody Night: The Homecoming.[8] The film was released on DVD by Elite Entertainment in February 2014.[9]

On December 29, 2014, New Wave Independent Pictures announced that the production of a sequel to the original film, titled Silent Night, Bloody Night 2: Revival, had begun.[10]


  1. ^ Peary, Danny. Cult Midnight Movies: Discover the 37 Best Weird, Sleazy, Sexy, and Crazy Good Cinema Classics. Workman Publishing Company. 
  2. ^ a b "Did You Know?". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 27 June 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Arena, James. Fright Night on Channel 9: Saturday Night Horror Films on New York's WOR-TV. McFarland. pp. 56–7. ISBN 978-0786466788. 
  4. ^ Fred Beldin. "Silent Night, Bloody Night (1973)". Allmovie. Retrieved 27 June 2012. 
  5. ^ Maltin, Leonard; Sader, Luke; Clark, Mike (eds.). Leonard Maltin's 2009 Movie Guide. Plume. p. 1250. ISBN 978-0452289789. 
  6. ^ Miller, Steve. 150 Movies You Should Die Before You See. p. 75. ISBN 978-1440503627. 
  7. ^ Cotenas, Eric. "Silent Night, Bloody Night". DVD Drive-In. 
  8. ^ "Silent Night, Bloody Night Remake Cooking in the UK". Dread Central. 9 December 2011. Retrieved 27 June 2012. 
  9. ^ Barton, Steve (2012-11-28). "Silent Night, Bloody Night: The Homecoming Find U.S. Distro.". Dread Central. Retrieved 2015-01-26. 
  10. ^ "Exclusive new photos: Latest Santa slayer in “SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT 2". Dread Central. 9 December 2011. Retrieved 27 June 2012. 

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