When it comes to holiday horror movies, there’s no poster more instantly recognizable than the one for Silent Night, Deadly Night. The image of “Santa Claus” going down a chimney with an axe in his hand was an integral part of the marketing campaign, and it no doubt played a role in outraging parents during the initial theatrical run. All press, as they say, is good press.
The man behind the controversial/iconic photograph was Burt Kleeger, who was hired by Tri-Star and given free rein to design Silent Night, Deadly Night‘s poster. During the summer of 1984, Kleeger shot a few different concepts he had come up with for the poster, and only one of those photos ever saw the light of day. The other two, left on the cutting room floor, were sent to me by the film’s producer Scott Schneid a couple years back, and I thought you might like to see them.
Kleeger’s alternate concept was to have “Santa” standing in front of a door, holding an axe, and he shot at least two different photographs in line with that concept. In one of them, the axe handle is covered in blood and there’s a screaming woman on the other side of the door, while in the other, the handle is clean and the door is ajar, but the female model is not in the photograph.
Schneid told me that he’s glad Kleeger went with the other concept:
There’s a reason they went with the “Santa-with-an-ax-going-down-the-chimney” poster…its much much better!
In any event, it’s pretty cool to see these alternate concepts, all these years later.