Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

What are 40 St. Nicks doing parading down 'Main St.' in Selkirk?

  • Print

Movies don't always confine bizarre vistas to the screen. Sometimes, cinema's surreal spectacle crosses over into the realm of real life.

Case in point: On a Tuesday night in late April, when leaves are starting to bloom on trees, a Santa Claus Parade is taking place on Manitoba Avenue in the town of Selkirk, 22 kilometres north of Winnipeg. As darkness falls, the street is literally filling with a surfeit of Santas. There must be around 40 men in Santa suits milling in front of the neon-appointed Garry Theatre marquee, in addition to extras dressed as Gingerbread men, Christmas stars and Christmas trees. (Between takes, the guys dressed as trees laugh with discomfort upon being eyed with interest by an imposingly muscular black dog on a leash.)

At the front of the parade, extras carry a banner: "Cryer, Wisconsin, Home of the World's Best Santa Parade."

Welcome to the filming of Silent Night, a horror remake of a notorious 1984 slasher. Budgeted somewhere under $4 million, this new film from L.A.'s The Genre Company is based on Silent Night, Deadly Night, a film that once raised the ire of a more conservative Reagan-era American public due to unsavoury ad images of a killer Santa Claus brandishing an axe, clearly up to no good. Parents groups rallied in front of theatres in protest.

Today, it's dozens of Santas in front of a movie theatre, their movements orchestrated by director Steven C. Miller clad in a Goonies skull-and-crossbones T-shirt.

Of the 18-day shooting schedule, 15 of those days are on location in Selkirk, population 10,000. Genre Company producer Shara Kay says the town offered a wealth of atmosphere for the film, including this stretch of Manitoba Avenue, which closely resembles "the quintessential Main Street of an American small town."

"We found a police station with real working jail cells, an abandoned house," Kay says, adding that more than 200 Selkirk residents showed up as volunteer extras to enthusiastically portray the parade's audience.

"This is our town," Kay says.

(They didn't find snow, unfortunately, which would have been an unreasonable request to make of Manitoba in May. "We address the lack of snow in the script," Kay says.)

Horror remakes often boast bigger, better actors than appeared in the original version, and on this night, that is proven by the presence of Malcolm McDowell, Donal Logue and Jaime King on the set. McDowell and King are dressed as a sheriff and deputy, respectively. Logue plays one of the Santas, and a decidedly seedy-looking one.

For both King and McDowell, this is the third time on the remake-of-a-decades-old-slasher thing. McDowell played the role of Dr. Loomis in Rob Zombie's revisionist remakes Halloween and Halloween 2. King has made My Bloody Valentine and Mother's Day, the latter shot in Winnipeg in the autumn of 2009.

For Logue, McDowell and King, this is also a second time experience shooting in Manitoba. King shot the aforementioned Mothers Day in Winnipeg in the fall of 2009, Logue worked here on the 2007 drama The Good Life, and McDowell just finished shooting the TV movie Home Alone 5: Alone in the Dark here last month.

The Yorkshire-born McDowell, 68, muses that he has become a person on interest on the horror movie radar since doing those Halloween films.


"All the fans of horror, they trip out on this stuff," he says, adding that the experience offered him his first opportunity, in a storied career, to don a sheriff's costume.

"That was one of the things that drew me to it because I'm going off to play a couple of butlers next," he says, while relaxing between takes. "You get a certain amount of gravitas as soon as you put this stuff on."

McDowell started out with prestigious work for the likes of Lindsay Anderson (O Lucky Man) and Stanley Kubrick (A Clockwork Orange) and has sustained his career across genres, from science fiction (Time After Time) to swashbuckling historical adventure (Royal Flash) to porn-infused potboiler (Caligula). He says he is happy to keep working in a multitude of different projects.

"I'm having a lot of fun," he says. "I can't take it too seriously."

The Ottawa-born Logue may be new to the horror remake, but he has appeared in a few notable horror films such as last year's Shark Night and the Wesley Snipes vampire thriller Blade. A solid working actor with an amazing variety of roles on his resumé, Logue is not an actor to look down his nose on genre films.

"When I first moved to Los Angeles, people said, 'You have to choose. Are you TV, or film or comedy or drama?'"

Logue's response was to do everything.

"I've had a good time bouncing between genres," he says. "It was fun to do four-camera sitcoms in front of a live studio audience, to do huge big-budget studio pictures like The Patriot or Zodiac, or it's fun to do fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants movies and different genres and different things."

"In England, they don't really have anything called a character actor because everybody's an actor, but in America, that's what I am," Logue says. The label allows him to lead a varied career, which he appreciates.

"I like changing things up a lot. There's not a category where someone can say: He's never done that. You have to keep appearing on different radar screens in different ways."

Producer Shara Kay says the plan is to release Silent Night theatrically in time for Christmas 2012.


Silent Night reveals its secret (psycho) Santa

A horror movie is usually only as good as its villain.

In the movie Silent Night, the killer dressed as Santa Claus inspires not visions of sugarplums, but something decidedly more nightmarish as he slices his way through the naughty citizenry of Cryer, Wisconsin.

The Genre Company revealed that the role of the killer would be played by Winnipeg actor-stunt co-ordinator Rick Skene.

It's a particularly delicious change-up for Skene, the son of former Free Press theatre critic Reg Skene. Rick was the stunt co-ordinator of the direct-to-DVD horror film Wrong Turn 4 in which his stuntman-actor sons Sean and Daniel Skene played two of the film's three mutant cannibal villains, Three Finger and One Eye.

On this shoot, Sean Skene is the stunt co-ordinator while his dad is in the psycho hot seat.

"He came in as the stunt co-ordinator and we asked him: Would you consider playing the role?" says producer Shara Kay. "Fortunately, he accepted."

"They asked me if I acted," says Skene, who actually teaches acting as well as fight choreography at the University of Winnipeg. "It's kind of a logical move to have an experienced stunt performer who is also an actor. Because having to switch (between actor and stuntman) through the entire movie is so crazy, it just made sense to go in that direction.

"It's a really big role to bite off."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 3, 2012 D1

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Jets vs. Ducks Game 2 promo

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Local- Peregrine Falcon Recovery Project. Baby peregrine falcons. 21 days old. Three baby falcons. Born on ledge on roof of Radisson hotel on Portage Avenue. Project Coordinator Tracy Maconachie said that these are third generation falcons to call the hotel home. Maconachie banded the legs of the birds for future identification as seen on this adult bird swooping just metres above. June 16, 2004.
  • JOE.BRYKSA@FREEPRESS.MB.CA Local-(Standup photo)- Humming Around- A female ruby -throated hummingbird fly's through the bee bomb  flowers Friday at the Assiniboine Park English Garden- Nectar from flowers are their main source of food. Hummingbirds wings can beat as fast as 75x times second. Better get a glimpse of them soon the birds fly far south for the winter - from Mexico to South America- JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS- Sept 10, 2009

View More Gallery Photos

About Randall King

In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.

His dad was Winnipeg musician Jimmy King, a one-time columnist for the Winnipeg Free Press. One of his brothers is a playwright. Another is a singer-songwriter.

Randall has been content to cover the entertainment beat in one capacity or another since 1990.

His beat is film, and the job has placed him in the same room as diverse talents, from Martin Scorsese to Martin Short, from Julie Christie to Julia Styles. He has met three James Bonds (four if you count Woody Allen), and director Russ Meyer once told him: "I like your style."

He really likes his job.


Do you agree with the sale of the Canadian Wheat Board to foreign companies?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google