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A man with a bloody forehead and a face frozen from screaming

Screenshot:: Intercontinental Releasing Corporation

There’s no shortage of that these days Christmas themed horror moviesespecially those that are distinctive a killer dressed as Santa Claus. But in the early days of the slasher genre, it had not yet become a trope. In 1972 Tales From the Crypt gave us the maniac in the red suit, perhaps the most notable early example, and the 1980s. Good night everyone takes what that anthology laid down while borrowing liberally from what is the greatest Christmas yet slasher of all time 1974 Black Christmas.

That’s probably the biggest detail Good night everyone What it brings to the world, however, is that it is the first and only narrative feature directed by David Hess, a horror icon thanks to Wes Craven’s 1972 Last house on the left. Released the same year as Friday 13:00which raised the bar for splatter thanks to Tom Savinithe terrifying special effects of Good night everyone feels relatively bloodless despite its decent body count. Many of his kills happen off-screen, no doubt a consequence of what was clearly a bare-bones production budget, and perhaps why the entire film takes place in one setting and the acting is so uneven.

Horror fans will recognize all the expected script beats (writer Alex Rebar’s other efforts include the 1980s Terrorism on tour, essential viewing for your next rock n’slaughter themed night), but then again, 1980 was relatively early for a slasher film, so perhaps audiences back then might not have expected everything going on the way they would today. viewers. Or maybe they did; Good night everyone hardly subtle, though it does produce a twist at the end that’s both completely unearned and wild enough to act.

After a prologue that establishes the killer’s motivation;it’s common to get revenge after a prank goes wrong– inside literally In the first minute, we jump ahead two years to Calvin Finishing School for Girls (a picturesque boarding school in California conveniently located in the middle of nowhere where all high school girls seem to be going: finishing college). preparing for the Christmas holidays. The kids are accurately called “rich little luxuries” by one of the few grown-up characters on hand, including house mother Mrs. Jensen (Kiva Lawrence) and creepy groundskeeper Ralph (West Buchanan). The killer begins to strike after a few students stuck around during recess start what they expect will be a non-stop party with the boys, who fly in on a private jet for the occasion. Are boys rich little pompous bastards too? Of course they are.

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Screenshot:: Intercontinental Releasing Corporation

There’s really only one character you’re not actively rooting for to die, and that’s baby-voiced Nancy (Jennifer Runyo, making her debut Good night everyone but has since had reasonable success, including playing handsome student Bill Murray who pretends to be psychic Ghostbusters) Nancy likes kittens and piggies and drinks milk instead of beer. She’s so brilliantly innocent that Ralph, whose name might as well be “The Red Herring,” takes a shine to her, which would probably upset her even if she hadn’t been walking around the dorm carrying a pair of garden shears and saying things like: “There is evil here, I feel it. Satan is here.” (As it happens, although they were both released in 1980 Good night everyone came out a few months ago Friday 13:00which also features the character “Mad Ralph” who tries to warn everyone of their impending doom but is so insane no one does anything to him).

Even half-awake viewers will be easily intrigued by the process of eliminating the killer’s identity; Good night everyone manages to leave some wrapped dishes under the tree. One is the twist at the end, which reminds us that everyone in a Santa suit looks the same, and also that Santa suits are only easy to come by if, say, you need more than one person to run around in disguise.

There are also a few odd details scattered throughout the otherwise obvious plot. These include quirks like an angry sign posted on the dorm fridge, berating any would-be food thieves (the camera stops on this more than once for some reason). odd acting choices (like when a cop character delivers a belted monologue while grabbing Nancy by the chin); and things you’d expect from any ’80s-era teen-centric film, including extreme intensity, even when the kids know they have a killer in their midst. Also, Deep Throat Star Harry Rimes makes a hilarious cameo as a private jet pilot. The characters can be really obnoxious, the itch frustrating, and the dialogue not so memorable, but Good night everyone captures a moment in time when the Christmas trope wasn’t done to death, and helped pave the way for future classics such as: Silent night, deadly nightwhich guaranteed that versions of psychedelic Santas would become a heartwarming holiday tradition.

Good night everyone now streaming on Prime Video.

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