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To All a Goodnight (1980)

Guest post by Kit Lively, a comedy writer and cartoonist who has been published by National Lampoon, MAD Magazine, Playboy, and many others. He is currently the Managing Editor at Weekly Humorist.

'Twas the night before Christmas,

And all through the house,

A creature is stirring,

So take off your blouse.

That's pretty much the entire plot of To All A Goodnight. Of course, sans the Santa stuff, that's pretty much the entire plot of most slasher movies. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. In the case of slasher movies in general, familiarity does not breed contempt.

Though, to give credit where it's due, To All A Goodnight is one of the very first slasher movies released during the early 80s boom, so they were flying by the seat of their pants more than the other slasher movies that would soon follow. And they managed to do pretty much everything right before there was much of a blueprint to follow. It's pretty much what you would picture in your mind as the perfect paint-by-numbers early 80s slasher movie, and a personal favorite of mine.

Holiday hijinks are in full spring at the Calvin Finishing School For Girls when a young sorority pledge accidentally dies during some Christmas-themed hazing. After a crazily hyper and wacky opening credit song, we're introduced to a group of ladies who have chosen to stay behind at the school for Christmas break. It's two Christmases later, and a Santa suit wearing someone just hasn't been able to successfully let go of the pre-credit tragedy.

Before long, the house mother's been drugged by the girls to keep her out of the way, boys drop by for some Christmas "nookie" (get it? Like Christmas cookie?), and the aforementioned psychotic Santa is lurking through the halls of the sorority house, popping out every so often to soothe himself with some comeuppance.

And he actually pops out quite frequently, leading to one of the larger body counts from the early 80s slasher boom. And pretty gory stuff, too! Throats are slashed, one poor fellow's face is on the receiving end of an axe, and other crowd-pleasing favorites--all very capably handled by FX-superstar-to-be Kevin Yagher.

Silent Night, Deadly Night gets most of the positive word of mouth this time of year, and sure, it's a fine slasher film. But for a by-the-book 80s slasher whodunnit with all of the ingredients that description implies, To All A Goodnight is the superior offering.

There, I said it!


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