‘You’ve made it through Halloween, now try and survive Christmas,’ croaks the voice-over at the end of the trailer for 1984’s Silent Night, Deadly Night, the controversial slasher movie. The film itself is pretty ordinary, but the ad campaign had parent groups across America up in arms, fearful their children would be exposed to a homicidal Santa Claus. On the Siskel and Ebert show, Siskel said: ‘Showing Santa with an axe, on free TV, is sick, sleazy and mean-spirited’ before going on to name and shame Tristar Pictures, Columbia Pictures, CBS and HBO for making it.
The music made for the film comprises two very different offerings: 1) Perry Botkin’s synth dominated score; 2) Morgan Ames’s 80s AOR. Botkin has worked as an arranger with Harry Nilsson, Bobby Darin and Carly Simon; and on TV shows such as Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley. His work with The Carpenters on the title track of the film Bless the Beasts and Children got him an Academy Award Nomination in 1971. The Silent Night, Deadly Night chaotic jumble of baroque electronic sounds is a whole other world in comparison to his previous output. Its power lies in the jarring and elaborate tonal changes. This is encapsulated in the opening ‘Main Title’, which discordantly attacks from the moment there is sound, but soon descends into an icy, serene electric piano track. In contrast, the rumbling and distorted ‘Never Stop for Strangers’ strips itself down to absolute minimalism by the time it ends. Whatever the tone or shade, it’s always chilling and troubling.
Californian Morgan Ames has written, performed, and/or collaborated with Quincy Jones, Roberta Flack and Al Jarreau. Her 10 tracks take in a gamut of 80s AOR tropes. ‘Slayrider’ is the obvious fist-pumping anthem. However, ‘The Warm Side of the Door’ is a particularly addictive power ballad sounding like Johnny Mathis’s ‘When A Child Is Born’ meets Michael Macdonald. You’ll swear blind ‘Christmas Flu’ is a lost Bob Seger holiday song. Equally moreish is the cod-calypso rock sound of ‘Christmas Party’. The a capella of ‘Santa’s Watching’ is straight out of the songbook of Ames’s jazz vocal group, Inner Voices (coincidentally known for their annual Christmas shows in LA).
Double vinyl is limited to 400 and is strictly a one-off pressing for Christmas 2014. Liner notes are by Botkin, Co-executive Producer Scott Schneid and the writer Michael Hickey. It also features a selection of original reviews, including many of those calling for the film to be banned.