Friday, December 23, 2016

Episode 32: Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

“Punishment is absolute. Punishment is necessary. ...Punishment is good.”
We all have our little holiday traditions, don’t we? While so many like to sing along to their favorite Christmas standards performed by the likes of Bing Crosby ans Nat King Cole, I prefer to rock out to the shrill wail of The Crypt-Keeper as he shrieks such classics as “Deck the Halls with Parts of Charlie” and “We Wish You’d Bury the Missus” (both featured on the dementedly delightful Tales from the Crypt Presents: Have Yourself a Scary Little Christmas album). While some like to kick back and revisit It’s a Wonderful Life (the movie title I couldn’t, for the life of me, remember while originally recording this episode), I always revisit Silent Night, Deadly Night, sometimes all five of ‘em. Most holiday-themed movies are just too damned wholesome, so it always warms the cockles of my little black heart to watch a bloodied axe blade decapitate a snowman lovingly assembled by orphaned children.

Though I’d always had an affinity for all things horror, there was once a part of me that temporarily set aside dismemberment and decapitation to join in on Christmas festivities. It would start the day after Thanksgiving, when I’d spend an entire afternoon cutting inch-wide strips of construction paper to create one ridiculously long, multi-colored chain used to decorate the walls and ceiling of my tiny little bedroom. As the years went on and the tradition continued, I’d add little stars and twinkle lights to the elaborate set-up. A three-dimensional Santa head soon joined the equation. Finally, the piece de resistance, a foot-high re-creation of a traditional Christmas tree, complete with grape-sized balls of cherry red. This treasure would stand atop my TV, where I’d line wrapped goodies for my family and close friends. I’d work myself silly each year. In early January, when it came time to take everything down, I was beyond crestfallen. Oh, how I hated to see it all come to an end.

As evident, Christmas once brought me such joy and, like all children, was a time of year I’d spend so many months looking forward to. That all changed shortly after my 18th birthday, when I got my first job as a cashier at a large department store. Encountering holiday shoppers quickly became a part of the day I learned to loathe. With all the griping, groaning, and grappling for sale items, I discovered just how nasty the holiday season made so many people. Patrons entered my line positively itching for confrontation and seized the first opportunity to unload all of their personal frustrations. I’d always assumed the time of year made everyone as happy as it once made me, but that first year standing behind a register showed me just how miserable visions of red and green could make people, and how horribly they often behaved as a result.

Being on the receiving end of such animus and vitriol quite literally changed my entire outlook on “the hap-happiest season of all.” No longer did I look forward to the colder months and the jingle-jangle of holiday bells. I lost the desire to create my own little Christmas village, stopped making paper chains. hanging lights, and yes, I even did away with the mini Christmas tree. December no longer made me smile. It made me sneer, grimace, and grind my teeth in anticipation of inescapable chaos. I worked retail for several years after that and my stomach always tightened with nervous knots when summer came to a close and the smell of autumn hung in the air, for that smell signaled impending doom.

I’d like to say that since those horrors are long behind me, my love of “the most wonderful time of the year” has been restored, but sadly, I cannot. I’m more apathetic than celebratory and see the 25th as a day not unlike any other. I suppose watching splatter movies while everyone else is merrily decking the halls is my way at flipping the bird at all those painted smiles and turning my back on what Silent Night, Deadly Night’s embittered store clerk accurately describes as “phony sentiment,” Thank Christ I don’t have kids. No one to act all fake and jolly for.

I do, however, hope that you, my B-movie fanatics, are all jollied-up for this latest episode of B-Movie Bonanza, as it’s centered around my favorite Christmas movie. So pour yourself a tall glass of egg nog (preferably spiked, as you’ll need a bit of alcohol to truly understand my breed of wit) and get ready to watch the studly Robert Brian Wilson hack up some bitches. My source: the Starz / Anchor Bay Entertainment Blu ray, which runs 1:24:54.

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