Five on Film: Discussing Christmas Movies w/ ‘Silent Night’ Director Steven C. Miller

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Five On Film is an occasional feature on “Hey You Geeks!!” where directors, writers, actors or just plain awesome advocates of geek culture are asked five questions in line with the theme of their current body of work. In this edition, I chat with Silent Night director Steven C. Miller on the topic of Christmas movies.

Miller’s Silent Night is loosely based on the 1984 Charles Sellier Jr. cult classic Silent Night, Deadly Night. Silent Night, which stars Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange), Jamie King (Sin City) and Ellen Wong (Scott Pilgrim v. the World) is a holiday horror film set on Christmas Eve in a small town under siege by a murderous Santa Claus. In the spirit of the holidays (and the films release into theaters this Friday), I asked Miller to share some of his favorite Christmas movie memories, as well as any new Christmas memories (or horrors) he might have created on the set of Silent Night.

Hey You Geeks: What was it like filming a horror movie on a set full of Christmas decorations and holiday cheer?

Steven C. Miller: The colors and the vibrancy were a huge part of the film. I loved it. I wanted there to be this very vivid sense of cheer mixed with the ample moments of brutality. It just felt right. I’m a fan of colors in horror films. I think too often people forget we see in vivid color and I feel it makes for a much more realistic viewing experience. One definitely strange moment is when Brendan Fehr is strapped to a chair with Christmas lights and in the background there is a smiling Santa mounted to his reindeer. I don’t remember if that was totally planned, but I do remember thinking this it totally fucked up!

HYG: What would you say is your favorite non-generic Christmas movie?

SM: Home Alone and Christmas Vacation are both in the top spot for me. They both took Christmas and twisted it up. Both poked fun at a holiday that had already become such a materialistic scene. They were also the most memorable for me growing up because they were the films we watched as a family and I always cherished those times.

HYG: If you were to do a straight, family style Christmas movie who would be your ideal choice for an actor to play Santa?

SM: Tom Hanks. He has that personality on screen that would scream Family. That, and working with him would probably really fun.

HYG: How would you describe your Santa Claus in Silent Night?

SM: He is very menacing. It was important to me that he be scary. Even if the film had some dark humor going on, I wanted my killer to be intense. Even the way he moves is very thought out. He is more agile than most slasher killers and even more patient.

HYG: The blending of Christmas and horror is something that is rarely done but memorable when it is. Of all these Christmas crossover films, what would you say is your favorite single moment? Did you find any inspiration from that moment when making Silent Night?

SM: My favorite moment comes from the original Silent Night, Deadly Night— The scene when Santa rapes the mother in front of her kid always seemed to stick in my head. The inspiration I got from that scene was not to be compromising on the deaths. I wanted the film to be brutal and the kills to reflect that. I wasn’t going for some soft R, I was trying to go balls out and make people remember what they saw this Christmas.

Up next for Miller is Under the Bed, a film he happily describes as his “homage to old Amblin films like Goonies, ET, Gremlins and Poltergeist.” Under the Bed is due to hit theaters in the summer of 2013. Silent Night hits select theaters this Friday, November 30th, and Anchor Bay are releasing the film shortly after, on December 4th onto Blu-ray and DVD.

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