Silent Night, Bloody Night aka Night of the Dark Full Moon aka Death House aka Deathouse (1972)

directed by theodore gershuny
cannon films/jeffrey konvitz productions/armor films inc.

Mainly filmed in 1970 but not finished or released until 1972, this poorly constructed, many-titled movie shows the strain of its uncertain, prolonged creation. The editing is particularly touch-and-go, as scenes hopscotch abruptly. Plus, early on, plentiful stills and freeze-frame shots dominate, sorta like in a Ken Burns documentary. Eventually the production commences with typical cinematic techniques and practices, but at a critical later juncture turns sepia tone, and subsequently seems to attempt an approach on German Expressionist territory. These latter changes are in service of flashbacks explaining the story, because someone must have realize it wasn’t coherent. Despite that, one of the characters still has to drop more knowledge on the audience more or less out of the blue. The opening and closing scenes appear to have been shot separately from the rest of the picture and appended later, and although their narration also is meant to help tie things together, it doesn’t.

why did i watch this picture?

It’s Christmas season, and the events of this film occur on Christmas Eve, as did a supposedly pivotal event 20 years earlier. (The only evidence of this is occasional background music.)

Should you watch this movie?

I cannot in good faith recommend that course of action.

highlight and low point

Even when crucial plot points are revealed, some of them still don’t make a whole lot of sense. For instance, the fact that the owner of the house around which the film is centered turned it into a mental hospital at some point, then freed the patients – blaming them for mayhem that ensued – and then spent most of the next 20 years living in a mental hospital himself, apparently by choice. Actually, that’s the linchpin of this whole muddle. Now you don’t have to watch it!

rating from outer space: D+

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