These days there’s no scarcity of Christmas-themed horror films, particularly ones that function a killer dressed as Santa Claus. But within the slasher style’s earliest days, that hadn’t but change into a trope—1972’s Tales From the Crypt gave us a red-suited maniac, to call perhaps probably the most notable early instance, and 1980’s To All a Goodnight picks up what that anthology put down, whereas additionally borrowing generously from what’s nonetheless the best Christmas slasher of all time, 1974’s Black Christmas.
Probably the largest trivia level that To All a Goodnight brings into the world, nevertheless, is that it’s the primary and solely narrative function directed by David Hess, a horror icon because of his creepy star flip in Wes Craven’s 1972 Last House on the Left. Released the identical 12 months as Friday the thirteenth, which raised the bar for splatter because of Tom Savini’s grotesque particular results, To All a Goodnight feels comparatively cold regardless of its first rate physique depend. Many of its kills occur offscreen, little doubt a results of what was clearly a bare-bones manufacturing funds—additionally doubtless why your entire film takes place in a single setting, and the performing is so uneven.
Horror followers will acknowledge all of the anticipated beats in place for its script (author Alex Rebar’s different efforts embody 1980’s Terror on Tour, important viewing on your subsequent “rock n’ slaughter” theme night time)—however once more, 1980 was comparatively early for a slasher movie, so maybe audiences on the time won’t have anticipated every thing that occurs like up to date viewers will. Or perhaps they did; To All a Goodnight is hardly delicate, although it does whip out a twist on the finish that’s each fully unearned and simply wild sufficient to work.
After a prologue that units up the killer’s motivation—it’s the same old: revenge after a prank gone mistaken—inside actually the primary minute, we bounce forward two years, the place college students on the “Calvin Finishing School for Girls” (a fancypants California boarding faculty, conveniently located in the course of nowhere, the place all of the high-school women appear to be they’re about to graduate school) are flouncing off for Christmas trip. The children are precisely dubbed “rich little pompous bitches” by one of many few grownup characters available, who embody the resident housemother, Mrs. Jensen (Kiva Lawrence), and the creepy groundskeeper, Ralph (West Buchanan). The killer begins to strike as soon as the few college students who’re sticking round over the break launch into what they’re anticipating will likely be a nonstop celebration with boys who fly a non-public aircraft in for the event. Are the boys additionally wealthy little pompous bitches? Of course they’re!
There’s actually just one character whose loss of life you aren’t actively rooting for, and that’s the baby-voiced Nancy (Jennifer Runyon, who made her debut in To All a Goodnight however loved affordable success after, together with enjoying the gorgeous scholar Bill Murray pretends is psychic in Ghostbusters). Nancy is keen on kittens and pigtails, and sips on milk as a substitute of beer. She’s so glowingly harmless that Ralph, whose title may as effectively be “Red Herring,” takes a shine to her, one thing that will doubtless freak her out even when he didn’t roam the dorm toting a pair of backyard shears and saying issues like “There’s evil here, I can feel it. The devil’s here!” (As it occurs, although they have been each launched in 1980, To All a Goodnight got here out a number of months earlier than Friday the thirteenth, which additionally includes a “Crazy Ralph” character who tries to warn everybody of their imminent doom, however is so demented no person pays him any thoughts.)
Even semi-awake viewers will simply clock the killer’s identification by strategy of elimination—who’s curiously absent each time the ho-ho-homicidal fiend seems?—however To All a Goodnight does handle to go away some treats wrapped beneath the tree. One is the twist on the finish, which reminds us that everybody appears the identical in a Santa go well with, and in addition that Santa fits are straightforward to return by simply in case, say, you wanted a couple of particular person to be working round in disguise.
There are additionally some bizarre particulars sprinkled amid the in any other case apparent plot. These embody oddities like an offended signal posted on the dorm fridge scolding any would-be meals thieves (the digital camera lingers on it greater than as soon as, for some purpose); weird performing decisions (as when a cop character delivers a zoned-out monologue whereas gripping Nancy by the chin); and stuff that you just’d count on from any ‘80s-era teen-centric movie, including extreme horniness even when the kids know there’s a killer of their midst. Also, Deep Throat star Harry Reems has a humorous cameo because the non-public aircraft pilot. The characters could also be genuinely obnoxious, the gore disappointing, and the dialogue less-than-memorable, however To All a Goodnight captures a second in time when Christmas slashers hadn’t been executed to loss of life—and helped pave the best way for future classics like Silent Night, Deadly Night, which insured that variations on psychotic Santas would change into a heartwarming vacation custom.
To All a Goodnight is now streaming on Prime Video.
#Goodnight #UndertheRadar #Christmas #Slasher