Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out!
When your nightmare ends, the real terror begins!
Year of Release: 1989
Running Time: 87 minutes (1:27)
Director: Monte Hellman
Samantha Scully ... Laura
Bill Moseley ... Ricky
Eric DaRe ... Chris
Laura Harring ... Jerri
Richard Beymer ... Dr. Newbury
Robert Culp ... Lt. Connely
Elizabeth Hoffman ... Granny
Dr. Newbury has saved the life of the hideously injured Ricky Caldwell. The doctor has encased his patient's exposed brain inside a Plexiglass cap, yet he has failed to revive him from his deep coma. In Newbury's attempt to reach the comatose victim's mind, he connects Ricky's brain waves to a gifted clairvoyant, Laura Anderson, who unexpectedly taps into the dark and twisted realm of his haunted dreams. Ghastly things start to happen and Detective Connolly must fight to stop the dangerous experiment.
Silent Night, Deadly Night III, remindin' us that when the action stalls you can always perk things up with an extended driving montage extolling the virtues of the car phone. Really though, who even wants to see a lunatic with his own personal Pope Mobile bubble skull dome turnin' people into cranberry sauce when you could be listenin' to a Radio Shack ad? Oh... damn, that's a lotta hands, well, nevermind then.
An speakin' of communication problems; it's funny - just when things seem like they couldn't get any worse, Drive-In Jesus provides ya with a Christmas miracle to restore your faith in humanity. Actually that wasn't what He did at all, but He certainly restored my faith in karma. I ain't gonna go into what happened last week again cause it was embarrassin' enough just bringin' it up once, but evidently, after Fannie Ogglesby caught me green-handed buyin' a Christmas tree off a lot like a common yuppy, she slipped on the ice an cracked 'er head on the sidewalk en route to the nearest pay phone an now she can't remember anything that happened in 2017. I'm actually a little jealous now that I think about it, but thankfully my tree buyin' (rather'n tree *cuttin'* like God intended) transgression's gone down the memory hole. I went up to the hospital to visit 'er just to be on the safe side, an sure enough, last thing she remembers that involved me was last New Years Eve party at The Gutter Bowl when Sadie Bonebreak, Billy Hilliard an me hadda drag 'er out before she stripped off all 'er clothes an caused a huge spike in the divorce rate. I was so relieved that I didn't even put up a fight when Sadie's girlfriend decided she wanted to go to the Christmas parade Friday night, an normally I can't stand parades. Specially after last year when Mayor McCheese blackmailed me into lettin' 'im use Apollo to drag some ugly fat kid on a sled. I haven't forgotten about that either. Heck, I may even register to vote next year just to stick it to that jackass.
This year's parade was much better though, cause apparently Archie Winthrop'd been workin' all year in secret with this group of "tame" deer that he's been feedin', an he convinced the city council to let 'im have the deer pull Santa's sleigh, even though that meant havin' to agree to play Santa so's it'd be *his* hinder on the line if anything went wrong. It was actually a pretty impressive sight, cause I was just sure they'd never let 'im put those reins on 'em, but he must have some kinda rustic Dr. Dolittle thing goin' on cause they stayed in line an even seemed to understand his instructions pretty well... right up until everybody an their Gramma started in with the flash photography. I never knew this, but that whole "deer in headlights" deal only makes 'em freeze when the light source is constant. When it's *flashing* it tends to make 'em go crazier'n a crackhead with no cleanin' supplies. In any event, each line of deer broke off in separate directions an pulled the sleigh into a bench that'd been bolted into the concrete, sendin' Archie hurtlin' through the air like Rocky the Flying Squirrel. The deer on the right side just kinda whiplashed when the sleigh hit the bench an ended up spillin' all over the sidewalk, but the left side busted outta their harnesses an scattered into the crowd; one went crashin' through the front window of The Chickawalka Talka an completely trashed the place tryin' to find its way out, the second ran into Sheriff Hardassian's police cruiser an got its horns stuck in the passenger side door, an a third climbed on board the "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" float an leveled Whoville like a furry Godzilla, before buttin' Cindy Lou Who an knockin' 'er over the guard rail. That fourth guy was a pretty cool customer though, cause once he'd busted free he just sauntered around eatin' all the junk food abandoned by the kids after their parents'd grabbed 'em an bolted for their cars. I for one had a great time, though I don't think the chamber of commerce is likely to use any of the pictures from the rampage for next year's post cards. Which is a shame, cause, well, wouldn't *you* buy a post card of a deer buttin' a Dr. Seuss character off a float?
It wouldn't hardly be Christmas without a Silent Night, Deadly Night flick, so after the Keystone Cops'd finally corralled the deer an got Archie carted off to the intensive care unit we headed home an sliced up a Hickory Farms sausage an cheese sampler pack an stuck Part III in the VCR to get into the holiday spirit. Now I'll readily admit that it's no Silent Night, Deadly Night Part I, but we're already head an shoulders above Part 2 just by havin' a full length movie instead of shoehornin' 28 minutes of flashbacks from the first flick in to pad the runtime, so let's give this thing a chance. Sides that it's Christmas, an that means peace on Earth, good will towards man, an tryin' to get past the stink of garbage day, alright? Good. Everybody zen? Excellent. Time to check out all the good tidings Santa brought us in his sack of sociological sacrosanctity. First, it's not nearly as difficult as you'd think to hitch a ride while sportin' a hospital gown. Second, Bill Moseley musta done somethin' pretty disgustin' back in the 1980s, cause at some point somebody apparently revoked his skull privileges. An third, if your idea of a good time is to have phone sex with a gas station attendant on Christmas Eve, you might wanna get crackin' on that list of New Year's resolutions, cause there're a whole lotta issues that need addressin'.
The thing I've never understood about these Santa Claus killer flicks is why the concept was ever considered "shocking" or "controversial" to Christmas traditionalists. I can see it in your eyes, you're thinkin' I'm about to bring up Krampus, right? Wrong. Ain't no reason why we gotta hop across the pond to understand why this kinda behavior ain't much of a stretch for His Jolliness. Heck nah, allow me to present The Case Against Claus, an when I'm done you try explainin' to me why people were *ever* under the assumption that this kinda antisocial behavior was out of character.
Exhibit A: Santa works his elves day an night, 364 days a year (Christmas is like the North Pole's version of Labor Day), an accordin' to an elf by the name of Twitchy, went so far as to call in strikebreakers to crack skulls when they attempted to unionize in the Fall of 1958.
Exhibit B: Santa, for his part, works only one day a year, an collects ALL the spoils left by the children of the world in what's become a textbook case of Crumble Down Cookienomics.
Exhibit C: Furthermore, he licenses his name and likeness to every mall in America, allowin' 'em to contract fat-man labor to out-of-work winos with noses redder'n Rudolph's in an effort to lure in consumers by the truckload to empty their pockets for the betterment of corporate interests (heck, the man used to wear GREEN before sellin' out to the Coca Cola Company).
Exhibit D: The fat man commits breaking and entering billions of times every single year, yet refuses to set foot in the homes of impoverished children from 3rd world countries who have nothing to offer in the way of tribute to his ever expanding waistband.
Simply put: Mr. Claus is a classic case of capitalism run amok, running roughshod over his employees, growing ever larger off untaxed Slushie funds, all while giving the finger to the children who need him the most. Why then, I ask, is it implausible to suggest that after having triumphed over all other holiday competition an cementing himself as the king of crony capitalism an bein' left with no further adversaries or challenges to conquer, he might press his luck further an lash out at society *just to see what anybody can do about it*? They say it's lonely at the top, well, imagine how lonely it is at the top when you already live at the top of the world. So for all you "think of the children!" phonies out there who believe Santa Claus is a bastion of goodness in a world of filth - I'd suggest you take off those rose-tinted blinders an accept that, sometimes, our heroes turn out to be jerks.
The movie begins with this girl (Laura) wakin' up in a hospital next to a guy who's in a coma an missin' the top of his skull an hasta wear one of those bubble domes like the Martians in Mars Attacks (it's actually Ricky from the last movie, only they recast Eric Freeman with Bill Moseley so Eric wouldn't sprain his eyebrows again). Cept then Ricky (who by this point looks like Sling Blade after a run-in with the L.A.P.D.) comes out of his coma an hobbles through the hallways after 'er an slices 'er wrist open like a rainbow trout til she runs into Santa Claus an gets this look on 'er face like she's about to sing Santa Baby an do a pole dance routine. She sits on Santa's lap an tells 'im what she wants for Christmas an inadvertently gives 'im the holly jollies, but after awhile she gets too greedy in 'er wish listings an he whips out the ole kitchen cutlery. This's about the point where the gal wakes up screamin' in the hospital like the anesthetic just wore off in the middle of a sex-reassignment surgery she didn't ask for, an apparently she's in there cause she's got psychic powers an some lunatic doctor (Newbury) has 'er brain waves wired into Ricky's junction box so she can communicate with 'im through ESP. She's also blind, which is prolly for the best since this way she can't see that they've got Ricky in the room next to 'er with a chicken incubator bolted onto his head. Then the session ends an she waits around for 'er brother (Chris) to come get 'er, an by the time he finally shows up it becomes pretty obvious why it took 'im so long on account of his bein' the biggest chunkhead you've ever seen in your life (dude looks like Brendan Fraser in Airheads after a poodle perm). Meanwhile, this sleazebag Salvation Army Santa's slinkin' around the hospital sexually harassin' the nurses before stoppin' to swig a little hair of the nog in Ricky's room, only he starts makin' puns that're so bad that they bring Ricky back to life an leave 'im no choice but to deck the guy's halls. Then he heads up to the reception desk an goes slashin' through the hos while Laura's outside slut-shaming Chris's new girlfriend (Jerri) for bein' a stewardess an generally actin' like the Bintch who stole Christmas, until they hop in Chris' Jeep an head for dinner at their Gramma's house.
Unfortunately, while that's happenin', Ricky's zombiein' around outside the hospital listenin' in on their conversation over his psychic party line, an so he hitches a ride with a Mexican an hasta take 'im for a ride in his one-horse open slay after the guy starts makin' fun of his haircut. Then Ricky hasta stop an gas up, only he gets triggered by the pumper's Santa hat an chops his head off like a Christmas goose an sticks it next to the phone where the guy's girlfriend's been talkin' dirty to 'im. Her sexiness falls on dead ears, but she sure means well. Elsewhere, Officer Joe Biden's down at the hospital talkin' to the doc about what went down, an the doc tells 'im that Ricky an Laura have a telepathic game of "do you see what I see?" goin' on an that he's prolly headin' out to kill 'er while Joe's fartin' around the waitin' room drinkin' all the coffee. Havin' a psychic bond is almost a motive if you squint hard enough, so Joe decides to take the doc an try to track down Laura before Ricky does. Meantime though, Ricky's played his magical slasher card to teleport out ahead of the kids an arrive at Gramma's house before them like the big bad wolf, only she don't realize anything's weird cause he's swapped clothes with the dead Mexican an put on his stalking cap so she can't see his brain pan an he ends up gettin' Christmas dinner served to 'im an havin' to declare war on Christmas by killin' Gramma when she tries givin' 'im a gift wrapped in red paper. It ain't too much longer before the kids show up, only nobody can find Gramma on account of 'er havin' been mangled by the Boy in the Plastic Bubble, so Chris an Jerri go root around in the bathtub while Laura watches Boris Karloff an Jack Nicholson ham it up in The Terror on TV. A coupla hours pass an Gramma still ain't come home, so Chris an Jerri head outside to have a look around an can't help but notice the Jeep's gone to The Upside Down in a nearby orange grove, while Ricky hangs around foggin' the windows with this look on his face like he's waitin' for just the right moment to come inside an see if anybody wants to play Boggle with his headgear.
Trouble is, Ricky can't just stand outside all night cause he left in such a hurry that he didn't have time to dump any antifreeze into his brain pan an it won't be too much longer before the liquid in there freezes solid, so he punches out the front door an starts stranglin' Jerri until Chris jams Granny Smith's apple peeler through one of his hands for ignorin' the "solicitors will be stabbed" sign. But while that's goin' on, the doc an Officer Joe're out on the freeway havin' a philosophical discussion about the innate potential for evil inside every man an Joe makes it perfectly clear that he may hafta pump 900 rounds of ammunition into Ricky's body if he does anything stupid like reachin' for his wallet when asked for ID. That really doesn't work for the doc since he needs Ricky's brain an its hyperbaric crock-pot functionin' at maximum efficiency if he's gonna make any kinda breakthroughs that'll earn 'im enough scratch to start his own psychic hotline, so he ends up stealin' the cruiser after Joe pulls over to water the bushes. Back at the house, Chris finds his Grampa's old scattergun an the three of 'em head for the highway, only Ricky ends up droppin' out of a tree like a narcoleptic Howler monkey an shivs Chris with Gramma's good tater slicer an forces the girls back to the house. Then the doc pulls up in the cop car an tries to lure Ricky in by promisin' to staple a nice wig onto his head so he'll look like Joe Dirt, but even havin' been in a coma all these years Ricky knows David Spade is nothin' without Chris Farley, so he respectfully declines an buries his knife into the guy's poop processor. There's just not a whole lot you can do with guys like that, cause the slay bells ring, but they ain't listenin'. Meanwhile, the girls're back at Gramma's place rootin' around for Grampa's target pistol, but Ricky uses asshole projection an beams himself upstairs so he can drag Jerri under a bed an turn 'er into a skewerdess. Then Laura stumbles around blindly until she ends up in the basement where Granny-Wan-Kenobi starts talkin' to 'er from beyond the grave an tellin' er to use the force, an she ends up bustin' out all the light bulbs like Audrey Hepburn in Wait Until Dark to level the playin' field. I think that's prolly about as far as we need go. Not that there's some big spectacular finish that I'm tryin' to avoid spoilin' or anything, it's just that, well, only a complete savage would go ruinin' the ending, ya know?
Alrighty, well, I'm sure they really did intend to have somethin' happen in this flick, but who among us hasn't forgotten somethin' important from time to time? Heck, I remember this one time when I drank so many Pole Cat beers at The Gutter Bowl that I forgot how to drive and accidentally backed over Barney the Bowlin' Pin on my way out. That's prolly all that happened here. Besides, not havin' a plot's never stopped us before, but I'm afraid the movie's problems go a bit deeper than that. The thing that really sucks all the fun out of it is the fact that it's just straight up got no heart. Even the weirdos who genuinely enjoy this thing only lump it into the list of Christmas Horrors because it's skatin' on the reputation of the original. Now I ask you: how the heck am I, as a social deviant, supposed to look at this thing and get into the Christmas spirit? Who films a low budget Christmas flick in Southern California, where it's 55 degrees and sunny even if you're actually filming during the Winter? The original was filmed in Heber City, Utah; average annual snowfall 74 inches. It hadn't even SNOWED 74 times in So. Cal since the last ice age, so why the heck did they shoot this thing down there? Greed, yeah, I know; can it, it was a rhetorical question. Heck, forget snow, you can't even see anyone's BREATH when they go outside at night in this movie, bein's how they filmed in April. I'm sorry, but I can't just let this slide; we paid for a Santa Claus killer at Christmas, and what we got is a gangling guy wearin' a Boggle dome over his brain filmed in Southern California during the Springtime. A Christmas tree, a sleazy non-killer Santa, and one string of porch lights does not a Christmas Horror flick make, and I can't help but think about how P.O.'d everybody got at Halloween III, while Silent Night, Deadly Night III is just given a pass and considered a lesser son of greater fathers. Halloween III was never *supposed* to be like the original. Silent Night III brings back its most recent killer, slaps a crock-pot lid over his head with the hope that people'll be distracted enough by the gimmick to miss the fact that it has no soul, and everyone just goes "meh." Halloween III made a choice to be different, Silent Night III picks up where Part 2 left off and completely flushes its history down the crapper. Is it too much to ask that Ricky don the Santa Claus costume after he kills the lush in the hospital? Does Jason just say "fuck it" when his mask splinters into 100 pieces? Hell no he don't, he GETS ANOTHER MASK. Granted, this flick is better than Part 2, but only because Part 2 had barely 50 minutes worth of new footage after factoring in all the flashbacks and the credits. Heck, I'd venture to say that what went down after Ricky broke outta the nut house in Part 2 *is* actually better than this gutless wonder, cause even though it didn't have much Christmas atmosphere either, there was a *little* more than we get here. In conclusion, atmosphere matters, goddamnit.
I realize that Ricky's brain is sittin' right there in plain sight, but I wanna pick at Monte Hellman's brain and try to figure out just what in the Hellman went wrong with this thing, and by gar that's what I'm gonna do. The plot is profoundly farknoggled on a canonic level, just as Part 2 was when compared against the events of Part 1. But mosta the problems Part III has are unforced errors, where Part 2 really relied on its changes for plot points. I'm not gonna get too bent outta shape about Ricky's extremely liberal usage of the slasher teleportation device (even though he's slower'n a slug on a salt bed) or other little things like that, but there's absolutely no reason for Ricky to have that skull dome protecting his brain. When he "died" at the end of Part 2 it was from damage to his chest, not his head. Now, odds are Hellman hadn't even seen the previous sequel when he made this, but while it might be downright cruel to ask that of somebody, the director really should have done so if he's going to be building on it. Then again, maybe he did see it and just assumed nobody'd care; well, *I* care, Monte. The acting is pretty pitiful too, and as usual, the only folks worth a damn are the unbeautiful people known as character actors. The biggest problem isn't even so much that Samantha Scully is wooden and awkward; instead, the real problem stems from the fact that her character is written in such a way as to be a completely unlikable bitch. Isn't there some rule that says your protagonist is supposed to be sympathetic? Or if they're an anti-hero, cool? Apparently Monte never read Aristotle's Poetics. That said, that's not even the biggest blunder they made with regard to the acting, because why in the blue Hell would you cast Bill Moseley after having seen his performance in Chainsaw 2, and NOT let him do *anything*? And don't tell me nobody'd seen that before they cast him, because this made two movies in three years where Bill wasn't allowed to have a skull. I mean, everybody remembers the deliciously terrible performance Eric Freeman gave in the second movie; well, Moseley could have done the same thing, and actually done it WELL if they hadn't lobotomized the character for absolutely no reason. Would you cast Chesty Morgan to play a nun, or Sylvester Stallone to play Gandhi? Cause that's essentially what they've done here, and it's positively painful attempting to wrap my brain around it.
Here's who matters and why, less Bill Moseley, cause he's a pretty big wheel in the genre these days and shouldn't need an introduction: Samantha Scully (Bloodsuckers), Richard C. Adams (Pandemonium), Richard Beyman (Home the Horror Story), Isabel Cooley (The Assassination Game), Eric DaRe (Starship Troopers, Bundy, Pieces, Critters 4), Leonard Mann (The Humanoid, The Monster of Florence, Cut and Run, Night School), Laura Harring (The Punisher, Inside 2016, One Missed Call, Ghost Son, All Souls Day: Dia de los Muertos, Willard 2003), Carlos Palomino (It's Alive III), Elizabeth Hoffman (Fear No Evil), Jim Ladd (To Die For), Robert Culp (Santa's Slay, Xtro 3, Spectre), Richard N. Gladstein (Silent Night Deadly Night 4 & 5), Carol Thompson (Zaat), Tara Buckman (Xtro II, Brave New World 1980, Silent Night Deadly Night, Night Killer), Charles Dierkop (Grotesque 1988, Messiah of Evil, Night of the Cobra Woman, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Silent Night Deadly Night), Geoff Hansen (The Arrival 1991), Max Robinson (Halloween 5, Hangar 18, Silent Night Deadly Night). Oddly enough, not only does this flick have a coupla slummers who'd previously had fairly successful careers, but a couple of its cast members even went on to modest success *after* appearing in it, and those folks are as follows: Richard Beymar (Benjamin Horne on Twin Peaks, Tony in West Side Story, Pvt. Dutch Schultz in The Longest Day, Peter Van Daan in The Diary of Anne Frank), Eric DaRe (Leo Johnson on Twin Peaks), Laura Harring (Paula Stevens on Sunset Beach), Elizabeth Hoffman (Beatrice Ventnor on Sisters), Richard Culp (Bill Maxwell on The Greatest American Hero, Kelly Robinson on I Spy).
The special effects are alright, although far less ambitious or frequent than the first movie's. The skull dome is actually pretty decent, despite its inexplicable existence, but it's the only effect in the entire movie that required any kind of imagination. There's also the severed head scene at the gas station, and it plays pretty well because rather than trying to make a prosthetic on a minimal budget, they just hollowed out a table and had the actor crouch down inside it, thus allowing them to use his actual head. That's a pretty easy trick that *every* low budget production should utilize whenever possible, as it always looks better than anything you're going to be able to make. Everything else is strictly off-screen stabbings with blood of varying quality. Some of it's dang near perfect, like the wrist slicing in the opening dream sequence, while other scenes utilize stuff that's too bright in color, so generally speaking, the special effects are okay. The shooting locations are decent, but no better than adequate, as they offer little in the way of intrigue or atmosphere generation. You've got the hospital used during the first 20 minutes or so (if it wasn't actually a hospital, it certainly fooled me), the gas station (easy points here), and Granny's house, which comes off as a believable residence of an elderly woman. They're all very unincredible, yet good enough not to precipitate any complaints. The soundtrack is another disappointing area, and another missed opportunity to score what should have been some very easy (and necessary) points. All they had to do was remix a few traditional Christmas songs into something sinister, and they very seldom do. The opening sequence features a remixing of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" redone with a synthesizer, and it's alright, but there's little else until much later in the movie. Most of the music was produced with synthesizers and, at least early on, it has a Science Fictiony sound to it not entirely different from some of the music in C.H.U.D. At the end of the day, it completely fails to deliver on its holiday theme, and isn't especially exciting or memorable. Overall, it's slightly better than Part 2. But if that was the only bar they set for themselves before beginning production on this, they were doomed from the get-go. Some people will tell you it's the worst of the series, and while the distinction is so minimal that I'm not likely to argue with them, I can't get past just how lazy Part 2 was, and I still say that was the worst. That said, this is one painful slog of a movie, with lengthy periods of squat in the way of action, and as such I'd only recommend it to slasher completists and hardcore fans of the series.