[Interview] Malcolm McDowell Talks About The “Unpretentious Fun” Of ‘Silent Night’, Revisiting Stanley Kubrick


After hitting theaters last Friday, Silent Night is now available everywhere as a Blu-ray/DVD (or just as DVD if that’s the way you like it). The film, directed by Steven C. Miller (Automaton Transfusion, Under the Bed, The Aggression Scale), is a loose remake of the horror classic Silent Night, Deadly Night. The cast includes Malcolm McDowell (Rob Zombie’s Halloween, A Clockwork Orange), Jaime King (Sin City, My Bloody Valentine 3D), Donal Logue (Shark Night 3D, Blade), Lisa Marie (Sleepy Hollow), Brendan Fehr (Final Destination, X-Men First Class), and Ellen Wong (Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World).

I recently hopped on the phone with McDowell and we talked about his approach to the role and working with director Steven C. Miller. We also spoke about his classic collaboration with Stanley Kubrick, A Clockwork Orange.

In the film, “McDowell and King star as a small-town sheriff and deputy on the hunt for a murderous Santa Claus terrorizing their community on Christmas Eve. But with the streets full of Santas for the annual Christmas parade, the killer is hiding in plain sight. He’s made his list, checked it twice, and the naughty are going to pay with their lives.

Head inside to check out the interview!

When you signed on for this had you seen the original ‘Silent Night, Deadly Night’?

No, no. I hadn’t seen it. I hadn’t even heard of it to be honest and then I was brought up to speed on it. And people were very angry at the time because the filmmakers had taken the beloved figure of Santa Claus and turned him into a serial killer who scared the bejeezus out of the poor children, you know? And I see their point, but I don’t think there’s one word of protest this time. The world has moved on in the past 25 years [from the controversy].

Your character is so convinced that he’s right about everything, it’s almost comical.

Exactly. You’ve hit it. That’s exactly what I intended. Here he is, the Sheriff of this small town in Wisconsin, and what he’s been doing for the past 25 or 30 years is writing parking tickets and giving citations to the odd drunk. So it’s a fun thing to poke at, Sheriffs in small towns are God almighty and answer to no one. There’s a little bit of fun to be had there, and of course he’s so self conscious about being right. As he says, “this is where our training kicks in.” Oh yeah? Training for what?

Many of your scenes are with Jaime King. Can you talk about establishing the dynamic between your characters?

Of course he thinks that, because she’s a rookie, she doesn’t know her ass from her elbow. And he gets irritated by her common sense ideas that actually make sense, but he’s got his theory and he wants to play it out. Police often decide on a suspect and are blind to anything else.

How was it working with [director] Steven C. Miller?

He did a terrific job directing the movie. It’s a very unpretentious movie, it is what it is. It’s a lot of fun and the idea was to scare the audience and make them smile, and I think he pulled that off. I think he did well in that respect. This is entertainment, it’s not an exercise in intellectual chops. It’s to sit there, be entertained and have a good laugh.

There’s a new Stanley Kubrick exhibit at LACMA, and a lot of people are re-examining his work. What are your thoughts now when you look back on ‘A Clockwork Orange’? Have your thoughts on it changed over the years?

The perception of it has of course changed greatly in the past 40 or so years. But the film is a brilliant piece of work. It’s lasted and I think it’s one of Stanley’s most current films, it stands the test of time. But a lot of his work stands the test of time. But I think it’s great that they’ve done the exhibition. I haven’t had a chance to see it but I hear it’s beautiful. These beautiful art pieces basically arranged by a set designer. And Kubrick, you know, didn’t throw anything away. There’s barns on his property full of this stuff.

  • STRIK9

    This film is exactly what I wanted.The dudes that made this had to have been horror fans because this film isnt your usual glossy,hollywood shitbanger.I hope this is a start of a new horror franchise.That woodchipper scene was crazy!

  • Zombie-Killa

    Good interview!

    Funny enough, I just finished watching the Silent Night remake a few hours ago. I liked it, but at the same time, I wasn’t too impressed. The 80’s original was very cheesy, but the remake is a lot more serious and dark. The kills are gruesome (I agree about the woodchipper, STRIK9, that was nastyyyy!), but overall, the Silent Hill remake isn’t good enough to stand out amongst a lot of modern-day slashers that feature obscene amounts of blood and gore. But Santa was one creepy and evil dude in this film, and the mask was a nice touch.

    So yeah, I enjoyed Silent Night, but it didn’t wow me. Although, I would watch a sequel, because the cliffhanger at the end could easily set up another film. Also, I don’t know about the rest of you, but Jamie King stole the show for me. She really nailed the Deputy Aubrey Bradimore character, and IMO, she easily delivers the best performance in this film.

  • KeepDoubting

    I also just watched the remake and I was really pleasantly surprised. It had some cheesy dialogue that really made me laugh (I’m looking at you Mr. McDowell), but so did the original! And I agree with the brutal kills. So awesome!

  • djblack1313

    the movie was watchable but Malcolm was god awful. how this man can give a performance like this (one of the worst i’ve ever seen) and then go do another movie and actually be good in it is perplexing. i thought he was terrible in H2 but no, he’s brilliant in H2 compared to his “performance” in SILENT NIGHT.

    • Zombie-Killa

      And on top of that, McDowell’s character was a such a tool. His character strays too far into unlikeable territory, and he just gets worse towards the end. I have the same feelings for H2. The performance wasn’t something to remember, and McDowell’s Loomis in that film was beyond annoying and pompous.

  • Joe-Banger

    Wow djblack, you sound more angry than disapointed! Im not so sure that I want to see this film now.

    • djblack1313

      Joe, i DO think the movie has some good aspects to it and i think the director has potential. the movie has some interesting/cool visuals & coloring/lighting. the CGI blood/gore used in most of the deaths is bad though (it DOES sport a couple of very good practical fx kills…the axe to the head is awesome!). but Malcolm’s “acting” (i’m using that word very loosely) is an abomination. if this was some unknown person acting the way Malcolm does in this, he’d never get another job acting again, EVER. lol. so it IS worth watching, just don’t buy it without watching it first.