Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2
The nightmare is about to begin... again!
Year of Release: 1987
Running Time: 88 minutes (1:28)
Director: Lee Harry
Eric Freeman ... Ricky Caldwell
James Newman ... Dr. Henry Bloom
Elizabeth Kaitan ... Jennifer
Jean Miller ... Mother Superior
Darrel Guilbeau ... Ricky at 15
Brian Michael Henley ... Ricky at 10
Lee Harry ... Theater Patron (uncredited)
The door of the mental hospital opens, releasing Ricky from its confines. He takes with him the terrifying memory of his brother Billy's death and the burning image of Mother Superior - the powerful figure that brought about his brother's violent demise.
For Ricky, starting a new life means avenging his brother's death. By whatever means necessary, whether it be the cutting edge of a shiny steel knife blade, or the electrifying charge of a set of battery cables, Ricky is set in this blind journey of revenge leading ultimately to Mother Superior.
As Mother Superior prays in the dark, we suggest she say an extra prayer for herself, because not even her faith will be enough to stop Ricky. But prayers will do little for her in the silent part of this night!
Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2, remindin' us that, while Christmas only comes once a year, garbage day comes once a week. Kinda funny how a goofy scene like that from a movie hardly anybody's ever seen turns into one of the most beloved memes in all of cyberspace, ain't it? In a way it's kinda sad, knowin' that 90% of the people who use it will never actually sit down and watch the movie. But on the other hand, at least it's famous for *something*. An speakin' of the less fortunate among us, Sadie Bonebreak's girlfriend (I never can remember 'er name. Alls I know is it's one of those real girly ones that ends in "y," so anytime I needa talk to 'er I generally just mumble the first syllable an over-enunciate the "ee" sound) decided it'd be a good idea for me an my fellow outcasts to volunteer to help the needy this Christmas season. I told 'er that I didn't know anybody in town that was more needy'n her an that I could count the people less fortunate than myself on one hand, but she was already passin' out jobs to Skunky Hernandez an Cleave Furguson, so I figured it was pointless to fight 'er about it. Plus Sadie was givin' me that "if you don't do this for 'er it'll be three weeks before I can get my stockin' stuffed, which's gonna result in some serious deckin' of the balls for you" look, so I just went along with it. At least I wasn't stuck scoopin' up the mule dook over at the church manger scene like Billy Hilliard though; an actually, I prolly got the best job of the lot when I was tasked with bein' the entertainment manager for the Sunday school kids. Course, the kids' parents weren't real hot about that idea after havin' heard Reverend Dollarhide read one of my reviews aloud in church a few months back, but I happen to be the only guy in town with any cinematic expertise, an more importantly, I'm the only guy in town who knows how to operate a DVD player, so they were pretty well stuck with me. But anyway, all these mad mamas were pretty sure that I'd been sent by Satan to offer their kids an apple from the tree of culture, so they decided to stick around an see first hand what I had in mind for their little Christian soldiers.
That got me kinda P.O.'d, cause I didn't especially like the implication that I'd subject a buncha six-year-olds to somethin' that might turn 'em into the cast of The Blood on Satan's Claw, so I stuck Santa Claus Conquers the Martians in the player. I figured that since they're so keen about the way God tested Moses in the desert that they might appreciate a little test of their own, an needless to say, Moses was made of much sterner stuff than those cream puffs. The kids loved it, but not one of God's faithful survived the scene where the Martians an the robot with the dryer hose appendages kidnap Santa, an once the last of 'em had pussed out I got an idea. An awful idea. A wonderful, *awful* idea. So I drove home an grabbed Jack Frost for the second half of our double feature, just like we'd agreed. I'd originally explained that I intended to show "that Jack Frost flick from the late '90s where the snowman comes to life," an indeed I did just that. Of course, after they made their disdain for me readily apparent, what I actually showed wasn't that nauseatin' Michael Keaton garbage that I'd intended to, but the 1997 Jack "he's chillin' an killin" Frost, which scared the kids a little at first, but by the time we'd gotten to the "I can see your house from up here!" scene they were all rollin' on the floor. Poor little guys, I think that was prolly the first time in their sanctified little lives that they'd enjoyed television. Just thinkin' about it's depressin' enough to make even Jolly Old Saint Nick drink 'imself into a Listerine based stupor. So after our charity work was finished up, we all headed back to the house an did the usual holiday stuff, exchangin' gifts; piggin' out on Christmas cookies; binge watchin' the Silent Night, Deadly Night series, an of course, we thanked Drive-In Jesus for another excellent year of cinematic experiences. Well, everybody cept Shankles an Apollo, cause Sadie's girlfriend'd put this stupid elf costume on Shankles that creeped Apollo out so bad he spent most of the evenin' hidin' in the bathroom howlin' like he'd just woke up an found his chestnuts missin' until I finally took it off. Big chicken spent the rest of the night shakin' under Skunky's poncho, peekin' out only occasionally to make sure there were no Keebler Hellves plottin' to steal his soul. But anyway, I hope everybody has a good one, an rest assured that when the new year comes, I'll still be crankin' out the old.
An just for the record, I'm sorry to do this to you, specially on Christmas, because as most of you already know Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 really aughta be called "Silent Night, Deadly Night Part one an two-thirds." If'n you dunno what I'm talkin' about I'll get into that in just a minute, but first it's time for the annual Nintendementia "what I learned on Christmas break" tradition where I share a few unpopped kernels of wisdom outta this holiday popcorn ball. First, never assume that all women want the same things. For example, just because one woman appreciates you killin' 'er jackass ex-boyfriend, that don't mean they all will. Matter of fact, some of 'em will get so upset that they actually break off the relationship for your defense of their honor. Second, contrary to liberal logic, not all cops're heartless killin' machines. In fact, some police will respond to the scene of a mass shootin' an try convincin' the guy not to commit suicide. Or maybe they really are as sadistic as people claim an they're just tryin' to keep the monsters alive as long as possible so they'll hafta endure week after week of prison meat loaf. An third, you just can't get much more evil than knockin' off a Salvation Army Santa an usin' the coins out of his donation bin to prank call a crippled nun. But since it purt'near Christmas, I'd like to talk about what the season of givin' is all about, on account of this movie clearly havin' absolutely no idea. I mean, for starters, how come the guys who made this turkey didn't think it was important to actually give us an entire movie? Seriously, I kid you not, the first 40 minutes of this thing is interspersed with 28 minutes of stock footage from the first movie. Now don't get me wrong, I love Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 1, but when you realize that over one third of this sequel is comprised of flashbacks to the original, you can't help but feel like you just got Scrooged. This is worse worse than openin' up an NES box on Christmas mornin' an findin' two pairs of corduroy slacks inside. Showin' a highlight reel is one thing, an that's just fine, but this ain't no highlight reel, this is a fuggin' encore presentation of the first movie. Didn't these guys ever see a Friday the 13th sequel? Don't answer that, it's strictly a rhetorical question, cause we KNOW they had to've seen all the Friday the 13th sequels on account of this pretty much BEING a Friday the 13th sequel. Only real differences here's that Crystal Lake's frozen over, an our surrogate Jason's donned his gay apparel. I mean, for cripes sake guys, paddin' your movie's one thing, but this goes far beyond paddin'. This makes me think of that line from Night of the Living Dead (1990) where Tony Todd says: "This is something no one's ever heard about, and no one's ever seen before," an if this kinda filmmakin' was to become a trend, the idea of that's just as frightenin' as the conversation Tony has with Patricia Tallman. I guess what I'm tryin' to say is God help us, everyone.
The movie begins with the kid brother (Ricky) of the guy who unleashed the season's beatings all over society in the first movie, sittin' in an interrogation room waitin' for this headshrinker to come in an ask 'im how growin' up in a house fulla sadistic nuns an watchin' his brother get gunned down on Christmas mornin' makes 'im feel. Cept all that happens for the next forty minutes is Ricky narratin' bits an pieces of the nastier parts of the first movie, stoppin' only occasionally to do eyebrow reps. Seriously, I'm pretty sure the guy hadda prepare for this gig with 10,000 eyebrow reps a day just to have 'em in shape for the grueling exposition scenes. But anyway, the gist of this thirty minute recap is to establish that Ricky still has a little unresolved hostility towards Mother Superior, an that his rehabilitation progress has been about as effective as movin' a predatory Catholic bishop from one church to another hopin' God'll make 'im behave 'imself. Then Ricky talks about how Sister Mary found 'im a foster family to live with an how that went pretty well, until one day when he was out shoppin' for swatches with his new stepmom an started havin' Vietnun flashbacks. Fast forward a few more years an Ricky's stepdad's up an died on 'im like a male sex drive at an Appalachian strip club, an when Ricky wanders off from the funeral he runs into this couple havin' a minor disagreement about whether or not there's gonna be fornication, that ends with the woman gettin' the last word after the guy suddenly develops a lump in his scrote. Ricky's P.O.'d, so he hops in the guy's truck an runs 'im over three or four times to show 'im how it feels when the rubber meets the choad, an pretty quick the woman walks up to 'im to thank 'im for his Chevrolet inspired chivalry. Then he tells the shrink about workin' at this greasy spoon diner bussin' the left over heart attack specials to the dumpster, when one night he sees this mafia goon puttin' on an production of A Bobby Brown Christmas with some deadbeat in an alley. Ricky don't think much of it til the collector pulls out a hanky that reminds 'im of a Santa Clause suit, but once he sees red he makes like Taurus the Bull an gores the guy with an umbrella an leaves 'im lookin' like some air traffic controller put Mary Poppins at the same altitude as Flight 246 into LAX.
Then the shrink pulls out some actress's autographed headshot photo an asks Ricky to tell 'im about 'er (Jennifer), an we watch some more flashbacks with Ricky takin' 'er out to the movies where this loudmouthbreathin' moron's talkin' over the movie an tryin' to get Ricky's goat even though he's the size of a railroad car. Unfortunately, the heckler doesn't have the endearing charm of Statler an Waldorf from the Muppet Show, an Ricky lets 'im know it by puttin' his Christmas shoes into the guy's face til he's missin' more teeth than the autograph line at a Phil Robertson book signin'. Some time later, Ricky an Jen're out takin' a walk when they run into Jen's generic Anthony Michael Hall lookin' ex-boyfriend who starts mouthin' off about the things Jen used to do with 'er mouth, til Ricky gets so P.O.'d that he hasta clamp a jumper cable onto the guy's tongue an pour enough volts into 'im to jump-start the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan. Surprisingly, Jen's less than grateful after the wimp's eyeballs explode all over 'er new blouse, an Ricky hasta strangle 'er with a car antenna so she'll quit questionin' his sanity. Then a cop shows up an tries to arrest 'im, only the cop's on probation for killin' too many unarmed children on their way to Sunday school an hesitates when Ricky goes for his gun, resultin' in his skull bein' turned into a wiffle ball starter edition. Now Ricky's really startin' to have 'imself some fun, so he starts blowin' away neighbors like a tornado in a Topeka trailer park, til he runs into a police blockade an tries to start up a game of splattergories with his brains. Unfortunately, he discovers that he's livin' every Donald Trump supporter's ultimate nightmare when he realizes he's outta ammo, which brings us back to the interrogation room, where Ricky's still waxin' nostalgic even though he's already strangled the psychiatrist an buried 'im in blood red tape. So since there doesn't seem to be any objection from the shrink about 'im bein' paroled, he decides to get busy livin' while the guards get busy dyin', an once he collects his previously checked psychological baggage from the evidence locker he heads into town an salvages some spare change from this Salvation Army bell ringer so he can call up Mama Super an tell 'er he'll be home for the holidays. Think I'ma cut off the summary here, but if you're on the fence about whether or not to see it, it comes unglued pretty spectacularly on a technical level right after this last scene.
Alrighty, well, does everybody feel ripped off yet? This's gotta be one of the most preposterous examples of cheapness ever put to film, cause not only does it have 28 minutes worth of stock footage from the first movie, it's also got 10 minutes of credits just to pad the run time. Remove all 38 minutes and this thing clocks in at right around 50 minutes, which is basically the length of a season 4 Twilight Zone episode. If there were any justice, both theaters that showed this thing back in 1987 would've been chargin' 67% of the price they did for the first movie, or at least passin' out free candy cane schnapps or somethin' to compensate their patrons. I just can't seem to get over it; I mean, how'd they get away with this? As it is I'm gonna eliminate a full 33% of the movie's potential score, just based upon the fact that I'm not gonna let it ride the coattails of the original. What they've done here is basically taken the formula for a TV series clip show an tried applyin' it to a movie, only the clips are all bunched up right at the beginning and after that they try pretendin' like it's a full length feature. This movie is prolly the best example I know of for why people shouldn't throw around the term "rip off," cause once you've seen this it makes just about every other dirty trick you've ever seen a director use to insult your intelligence seem completely innocuous. The whole deal's so asinine that all the other problems it has that'd normally cause serious score deterioration seem hardly worth mentionin', but I'm gonna mention them anyway because I'm a professional. Mostly it's crap gettin' into the shot that shouldn't be there, but there's also a really obvious continuity error during the final chase scene where the nun's got her ear up to a white door that becomes brown when she opens it a moment later. Then there's the shot where somebody in the crew's shadow shows up on a mirror when everyone that's supposed to be in the shot is visible, which isn't that big of a deal really, cause that kinda thing happens pretty regularly anytime you're dealing with glass. But the best one is the shot immediately before Ricky goes all Jack Torrance on the nun's door where some guy's crawlin' around on the ground behind a group of kids playing outside her house. He's obviously part of the production crew, but that's gotta be one of the worst screw ups in film history to actually make it into a movie. Unless, of course, you count an earlier scene in the VHS release where the *entire* crew is visible in one of the shots. That particular scene got cleaned up for the DVD release with most of the crew being cropped out of the shot, although you can still see a boom mic. I'm sure there're people out there who can overlook all of it and enjoy the movie on a "so bad it's good" level, but I personally can't manage that due to the occasional moments of self-awareness that it has regarding its own goofiness. The IMDB lists the genre as "horror/thriller," but I'd call BS on that, because at least some of this comedy is intentional. Which, unfortunately, also ruins any chance of enjoying it on a cheesy level.
But anyhow, let's take a closer look an see how much of this thing needs to hit the curb on garbage day. The plot, in and of itself is not a problem. The way they went about putting it to film, however, is one of the laziest, cash-grabbingist, asinine things to ever reach a theater, and I say that as a guy who's seen Robot Monster four times. Even beyond the thirty minutes of flashbacks, you've got the logistical problem of Ricky not actually being with his brother when he went on his killing spree, and then recounting specific details about what went on during said rampage. Things he couldn't possibly have known. But really, at this point I'm complaining about a stain on the carpet of a house that's on fire, so the heck with it. The acting ranges from fair to bad, with only a couple characters being worthy of the term "fair." James Newman is alright as the psychiatrist, Ken Weichert isn't too bad as as Jennifer's scummy ex-boyfriend, and Jean Miller is okay (despite some rather amusing attempts to mimic Lilyan Chauvin's accent) as Mother Superior, but everyone else is pretty goofy. Eric Freeman's goofiness is at least goofy on an endearing level, especially that eyebrow business he's got going on. Apparently somebody else noticed this (cause how could you not?) and took the time to keep a running tally of that eyebrow action, and at final count, those things go up and down 130 times. So the acting is definitely substandard, but it's at least nowhere near Tommy Wiseau territory. Here's who matters and why: Eric Freeman (Ghost Writer, Children of the Corn), Jean Miller (Escapes), Ron Moriarty (Molly and the Ghost), Frank Novak (Watchmen, Independence Day, Sleepwalkers, Raptor, The Nature of the Beast, Watchers III, The Force 1984, Carnosaur, Stepmonster), Lenny Rose (Puppet Master III, Beach Babes 1 & 2, Manhater, Studio 666, Starforce, Run Like Hell, Test Tube Teens from the Year 2000, Witchcraft V, Ghost Writer, Dr. Alien), Kenneth McCabe (In the Aftermath), Traci Odom (Outbreak, Ellen, The Initiation), Jill K. Allen (2010).
The special effects are probably the high point, despite a significant drop in the overall volume from the first movie. Really not too much to speak of, but we've got the umbrella impalement (with extremely obvious rain machine follow up) which is alright, a few gunshot wounds (one of which is really pitiful given how close the range is, with a second one providing some reasonable splatter effects on the wall behind the victim), the tumored up face of Mother Superior (pretty good), which I assume was done entirely to try masking the fact that it isn't the same actress from the first movie, and the tour de force scene of the flick where Ricky attaches the jumper cable to the geek ex-boyfriend's tongue and electrocutes his face. Pretty good eyeball explosions, and the fake head is much better than you'd expect for a movie of this caliber. The shooting locations are a serious letdown, as the Christmas atmosphere that made the first movie so good is almost completely absent here. Given that the movie was filmed in Pasadena and released in the month of April (and only took 10 days to film) there prolly never was any snow, and anyone living in the neighborhoods they shot in would've probably removed all their Christmas decorations by the time the shoot began. So basically, this movie could be taking place during any time of the year (all the non stock footage flashbacks seem to be summer or fall), which destroys the anticipated holiday flavor. The soundtrack is hit and miss, with very little variety. I won't claim to have been paying enough attention to say exactly how many different tracks there were, but I only noticed two (with a third that that's strictly a tempo variation). The first track is actually pretty good, both in terms of its ability to generate a little atmosphere, and just being catchy. It's the one that plays over the opening credits and pops up several more times throughout the course of the movie. Kinda reminded me of the soundtrack from Halloween III, which is, to me, a favorable comparison. Then there's another track that's used most noticeably in the final chase scene, which is a bit goofier and a whole lot less effective in terms of establishing mood. Then again, we're talking about a sequence where a nut in a Santa Clause suit chases a crippled nun with facial tumors around her house in a wheelchair, so maybe I'm taking it a little too seriously. Overall, I could excuse most of the additional problems if one third of the movie's runtime wasn't an encore presentation of a decidedly superior flick, but this is just inexcusable. I'm not blaming the director, (at least for the stock footage) mind you, because he wanted to do an entirely new movie, but the producers of the first film didn't wanna do that (probably because they were too goddamned cheap) and thus, we ended up with this clip show instead. So really, you're not missing much if you just skip from Part 1 to Part 3.