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'Silent Night, Deadly Night': 20 thoughts on the best-worst holiday movie of all time

A confession: I’m not wild about Christmas. As somebody who gets unnecessarily neurotic about whether or not everybody else is having a good time, the onset of shopping crowds, traveling woes, gift-buying difficulties, and food-related malaise often overwhelms my delicate constitution. (Also, the constant claptrap about the War on Christmas doesn’t make the season any more fun.)

But there are a handful of Christmas traditions I have adopted over the years that have made the last six weeks of the year something close to bearable. The cornerstone of those rituals is the annual viewing of Silent Night, Deadly Night, a nasty little bit of holiday-themed slasher nonsense that essentially casts Santa Claus as a serial killer. But like a lot of the also-ran cut-‘em-ups of the ’80s, there’s so much more going on in Silent Night, Deadly Night than meets the eye, and I have spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about it (and its sequels), more than perhaps any other film I have seen. (And thanks to the yearly screenings, it’s undoubtedly the movie I’ve seen the most, which is a troubling revelation to type out).

Of course, a movie about a murderous Father Christmas isn’t for everybody, but here are 20 thoughts about Silent Night, Deadly Night that will hopefully help you get a feel for why it’s the best-worst holiday film ever constructed.

1. Silent Night, Deadly Night came out in November 1984 but was quickly yanked from movie theaters thanks to protests from parents groups who were disturbed by the ad campaign. Since there’s no such thing as bad publicity, the controversy surrounding the film gave it something of a second life — it re-appeared in theaters in early 1985 with an ad campaign that was based around the negative press it got the first time around. (One of the posters during the film’s resurrection was centered around Gene Siskel calling it “sick, sleazy, and mean-spirited”). They essentially leaned into bad press years before that was a thing.  READ FULL STORY

Pop Culture Pet Peeve: Dental work, torture of any kind

I have an extreme fear/hatred/phobia of all things having to do with teeth. Growing up, the dentist’s office was my least favorite place in the world. To be honest, it’s still in my bottom five. And it’s not even necessarily about pain. It’s the chill that gets sent through my body when I think about the sound of dental tools or the smell of a dentist’s office. I feel like it’s a ridiculous fear, but I’m told it’s not all that uncommon. Therefore, I’m hoping that my teeth-related pop culture pet peeve is also not all that uncommon.

Basically, my least favorite thing in any movie or television (or book, for that matter) is anything having to do with dental work or torture. We will tackle torture first, because it’s the most relevant in my life right now. Why? I’m looking at you, Scandal.

In the last couple of episodes of Scandal, there has been way too much teeth action. First, Huck decided to torture Quinn to get information out of her by pulling her teeth. Keep in mind that Huck is a trained killer, which means he knows hundreds of way to torture/kill someone. In the seconds before pulling her first tooth, he literally lists all of the other ways he could make her talk. So why did he have to pull her teeth?!  Surely it can’t be fun to film, and I assure you, it is not fun to watch:
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Brad Pitt turns 50! Watch a supercut of Pitt's movie career on his birthday

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Today, Brad Pitt turns 50, which means the blond-haired, blue-eyed, two-time People Magazine Sexiest Man Alive has been shining on screen for most of his (and our) lives. To honor Pitt’s work, we’ve rounded up a quick trip down memory lane.

We’ve cut together Pitt’s on-screen roles, from Dallas to 12 Years a Slave. Watch the actor (and his hair) evolve in the video below:
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PopWatch Planner: 'Anchorman 2' in theaters, 'The X Factor' finale, and more

As we head into the holiday season, this week has a little bit of everything. From Beyoncé’s surprise album — which you should download now — to Ron Burgundy’s return in Anchorman 2 and every fall finale in between, here’s what we recommend you put on your schedule:

SUNDAY 12/15
Homeland season finale AND Beyoncé on iTunes

Homeland wraps up its third season this week — what’s in store for Brody and Carrie? Other than an hour of twists and turns, we can’t be sure!

Plus: Queen B’s newest album was secretly released on iTunes and is the perfect soundtrack for any weekend activity.


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Pop Culture Pet Peeve: Movies that include pets just to kill them

I’m not your typical movie crier. Unlike most of my friends, I don’t tend to cry at big romantic gestures or when anyone in a Nicholas Sparks movie dies. But there is one thing that will always get me, as well as most of the other people in the theater: killing an animal. I just can’t. So this week, I quite literally have a pet peeve to discuss with Hollywood.

First things first, there’s a big difference between an animal film in which one dies and a film that includes an animal just to kill it. This particular pet peeve does not apply to the likes of Homeward Bound or any Disney film ever. At least with those, I know to bring tissues and have an episode of Friends waiting for me when I get home. It’s the movies that include a pet purely to kill it that really rub me the wrong way.

There’s almost nothing I hate more than walking into an action film, or a horror film, and finding out that the protagonist has a dog. From then on out, I do nothing but spend the entire movie covering my eyes and waiting for the horrible moment when that dog is going to bite the dust, because it will happen. It always does.

Take I Am Legend, for example. Will Smith is the only member of his family to survive the Krippin Virus outbreak, and yet somehow, he has his dog, Samantha. They sleep together in a bathtub and the poor clueless animal still believes she can protect her idiotic owner, even when he drives her right into the middle of a fight. Surprise! She gets bitten by one of the freaky things — do I call them zombies or not? — and despite his attempts to save her, Samantha eventually turns and tries to bite him. Smith is forced to strangle her in a scene that absolutely wrecks me (and is way too long). I knew it was coming, and yet I couldn’t emotionally prepare myself. It’s a trap that movies often catch me in, and I don’t appreciate it.
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I'm Still Not Over... The ending of 'Warrior'

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There are many things I’m still not over when it comes to the 2011 film Warrior. I’m still not over how freaking good Tom Hardy was. I’m still not over how it did not receive the amount of praise it deserved. I’m still not over the fact that there’s a large number of people who have no idea what film I’m talking about right now. But most of all, I’m still not over the ending of the film.
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Pop Culture Pet Peeve: In a life-or-death situation? Take off your heels!

When in a life-or-death situation, I love a woman who fights back. But as a woman who would like to think she would fight back in any given scenario, I have to say: Removing my heels would be my first move. That’s if I were wearing them to begin with.

For starters, wearing heels is completely optional. It is a choice. And no matter how comfortable a pair might be, they’re never going to be as comfortable or risk-free as something like a pair of tennis shoes. That’s just life. So why is it that in movies, women are constantly running and/or fighting for their lives while wearing heels? Wouldn’t running barefoot make you faster and lessen the risk of injury? Yes, yes it would. READ FULL STORY

Should more TV shows be screened in theaters?

We all know that Doctor Who fans are a special kind of beast — fiercely loyal, dedicated, and operate somewhat as a kind of perpetually enthusiastic cult. So it should come as no surprise that when BBC America invited fans to a series of 50th anniversary screenings across the globe, fans showed up in droves. Like, Hunger Games-esque droves.

In the US alone, the 11 nationwide screenings of Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor that took place Monday night — after the special had aired on TV, by the way — scored a per-screen average of  $13,603, performing better than The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, which had a $12,300 per screen average and was shown on more than 4,000 screens. Globally, the screenings earned $10.2 million. That’s pretty huge.

These results — combined with the overall buzz surrounding the sold-out screenings — also begs the question: Do we want to see more cult television screened in theaters? READ FULL STORY

This Week's Cover: Our Entertainers of the Year!

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And EW’s Entertainer of the Year is…Sandra Bullock!

She is the gift that keeps on giving. First the 49-year-old Oscar winner teamed up with the uproarious Melissa McCarthy in Paul Feig’s winning buddy cop comedy The Heat. Then, as Dr. Ryan Stone in Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity, Bullock gives an emotionally naked performance that will likely earn her an Oscar nomination. Bullock’s tremendous talent and range — to say nothing of the woman’s trademark grace and good humor in good times and bad — is what earned her the top spot on our annual list of the most exciting performers in 2013.

Bullock’s one-two punch demanded a fair amount of give and take from the actor. When she signed on to The Heat Bullock didn’t expect to be playing straight man to McCarthy’s firehose-blast of a performance. “Once I realized that that drove the film I had to step back,” she says. “Otherwise I would’ve been fighting for something that would’ve ended up on the cutting room floor. It wasn’t what I was hoping for but the end result was the success of the film and people liking us together.” While Bullock nixes any talk of The Heat 2, she says she’s keen for another project with her fast friend McCarthy. (Hollywood, get on this!) READ FULL STORY

Director Edgar Wright on 'Ant-Man': 'I think people will be surprised' -- let's cast the hero!

Another day, another bread crumb of scoop from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In a recent interview with ET, The World’s End director Edgar Wright discussed his latest project, a little Marvel movie called Ant-Man. Wright states that the Phase 3 MCU film may not be the type of superhero movie audience are expecting.

I want to make him [Ant-Man] into a badass [Laughs]. No, I always liked that comic and I always thought it would be an interesting thing to see in live-action. That’s why I [showed] that Comic-Con test that we did for Marvel, to show this fight scene like a proof of content, like this is what the action is going to look like. I think a lot of people who maybe don’t know the character sort of see that test and go, “Oh, right, I get it. It’s like an action film,” so that’s the idea. I think people will be surprised by what kind of movie it is, and so in that respect it’s something that I know is going to stand out because it’s got a very different story and is a very different movie.

Wright, known for action comedies like Shaun of the Dead and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World,  also addressed how he’ll infuse Ant-Man with humor:

Well, I think the Marvel movies are funny, you know? I think generally the Iron Man films and The Avengers is funny. They’re not ever in the comedy section, but they are funny and entertaining, so I think it’ll be something in a similar vein to that.

Casting rumors center on Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Paul Rudd as front-runners for the role, but Gordon-Levitt recently denied those rumors, stating, “I’m always the first to tell my fans if there’s really something happening, so if you don’t hear it from me, it’s just people spouting out rumors.” So does that leave Rudd, known for his comedic takes in movies like I Love You, Man and This is 40, as the uncontested top pick for Ant-Man?

Assuming it’s not too late to throw some additional hats in the ring, here are a few other candidates who bring the changeable comic character to life:
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