Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker
He's home... but he's not alone.
Year of Release: 1991
Genre: Horror/Science Fiction
Running Time: 86 minutes (1:26)
Director: Martin Kitrosser
William Thorne ... Derek
Jane Higginson ... Sarah Quinn
Tracy Fraim ... Noah Adams
Mickey Rooney ... Joe Petto
Brian Bremer ... Pino
Neith Hunter ... Kim
Conan Yuzna ... Lonnie
Van Quattro ... Tom Quinn
Clint Howard ... Ricky
A young boy sees his father killed by a toy that was anonymously delivered to his house. After that, he is too traumatized to speak, and his mother must deal with both him and the loss of her husband. Meanwhile, a toy maker named Joe Petto builds some suspicious-looking toys, and a mysterious man creeps around both the toy store and the boy's house... but who is responsible for the killer toys?
Silent Night, Deadly Night 5, remindin' us that there may still be a few wrinkles to iron outta the Toys for Guns program.
And speakin' of never growin' up, why do grown-ass adults still feel the need to exchange gifts at Christmas? Is it that warm, fuzzy feelin' we get rememberin' how our dirty little faces lit up when mom and dad bought us the Easy-Bake Oven or the Tonka dump truck? Maybe the excitement that accompanies gettin' an extra day off from handlin' sweaty boob money from underneath the size Double F udders of Mart Cart Mandy after she fishes it outta the hammock she calls a bra to pay for 'er Cosmo and disposable enema? Or is it just permanent brain damage from huffin' tinsel fumes generated by the excessive heat of cheap light strings imported from Japan circa 1956?
I only ask 'cause this year Billy Hilliard convinced everybody it'd be fun to play this game called "Dirty Santa," which, if you're unfamiliar, was probably the cause of all the police sirens you heard headin' toward the trailer park down the street earlier this mornin'. Basically, everyone brings a gift, ya draw numbers, and a person either opens a present or steals one that's already been opened, but each item can only get yoinked twice.
I hate this game. Matter of fact, I think *everyone* secretly hates this game, only once ya get into it and things become competitive people get obsessed and approximately 30 points drop offa their intelligence quotient. I mean, for example, let's say you open up, oh, I dunno, a barbecue lighter manufactured in the shape of a fishin' pole - 20 minutes ago you didn't even know there WAS such a thing as a barbecue lighter shaped like a fishin' pole, had no interest in ownin' a barbecue lighter shaped like a fishin' pole, and hadn't actually cleaned your barbecuer since 3rd Rock from the Sun went off the air. Somehow this all becomes irrelevant when your wife's deadbeat brother who ain't been seen in eight years and only dropped in to mooch a meal takes it from you 'cause he thinks he can trade it for a Distinguished Service Cross to a homeless veteran named Gonzo who lives under a bridge and offers prophetic visions of the future from a stolen portable toilet. Now you HAVE to own it and don't care how many hobos you hafta fight to possess it. I've got cousins down in Searcy, Arkansas that haven't spoken since 1985 'cause one of 'em snaked the other one's Swatch - we're talkin' blood feud.
I knew I shoulda just forked over the $4.00 for that Best of Rob Schneider DVD bundle and called it good, only my brain shut itself down and sent my mind on an out of body experience to protect me from the effects of prolonged exposure to Mariah Carey and when I came to I was back in the Topaz with an Atari Flashback. Alls I can say, in my defense, is that I was possessed by the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is a meddling, unscrupulous troll; we were doomed before the glaze even touched the ham.
Everything was fine for a while - Cleave and Roxanne brought a coupla pies, Sadie and her bustier half brought the sides, and we all had a real nice time watchin' the psycho Santa chop up the finishin' school femmes in To All a Goodnight ('least I thought we were until Mrs. Sadie hadda make a run for the can after the shower-head scene) until it was time to get down to business. Roxanne drew #1 and opened Sadie's present.
"Hey, Hickory Farms snack platter, not bad," she grinned.
"I got #2, and beins you've already got a cracker with mediocre sausage, I think I'll take that," I said.
"Everyone here with a girlfriend please raise your hand," Cleave replied, wavin' his arms around like a stoner at a Cypress Hill concert.
"He mocks us, Billy," I snarled in Cleave's general direction.
"He've mockin' you," Billy corrected.
"Whoa, hang on a minute, you ain't got..." I started stayin'.
"Corona Extra? Come to mama!" Roxanne swooned, resuming the festivities and opening one of her newly acquired brewskis.
"A six-pack? Really man?" I shook my head.
"Wha? Rokfy'th happy," he shrugged.
"'Deed I am," Roxanne agreed as she passed a bottle to Billy.
I was about to raise hell about the depreciation involved in turnin' a six-pack into a four-pack except that was about the time Sadie grabbed the Flashback and tore into it without even takin' the time to publically put my gift wrappin' skills on blast.
"Oh. My. God," she managed before enterin' a state of child-like wonder.
"Centipede... Canyon Bomber... Yar's Revenge... they're all here! Fuck yeah!" she squealed giddily.
I could already feel the ham startin' to squeal. I knew right then that this happy endin' was gonna be short-lived - kinda like the ones ya get at the massage parlor right before the cops raid the place.
"Say, that's a nice lookin'--" that's as far as Cleave got before Roxanne buried an elbow into his ribs.
"Don't you dare," she threatened.
"Um, maybe I'll just see what's in here," Cleave wheezed as he bent down to collect Mrs. Sadie's gift.
We all stared silently at it for about two minutes like the monkeys in 2001: A Space Odyssey when they discover the monolith till Mrs. Sadie couldn't contain 'erself any longer.
"It's a cleansing crystal!" she exploded.
"It absorbs negative energy from your psychic aura, purifies it, and releases it back into your space! It also realigns your chakras and surrounds you with a protective barrier that prevents potential harmonic disruptions of the soul," she continued solemnly.
"I thought you could use it at the taxidermy shop to help out with stressful customers," she beamed.
Sadie shot me that "don't even" look she always gets right before she chucks somethin' heavy and angular at my skull but it was too late.
"She's right, Cleave. Somethin' like that could really class up the joint. I'd recommend settin' it right next to the register to cut that bad karma off at the knee caps before it can even get close to ya," I smirked.
Billy excused himself under the guise of takin' Apollo outside to pee, but I think everybody heard 'im laughin' like a hyena for a radius of two blocks until Cleave finally came up with a response.
"This is MUCH too beautiful to have hangin' around the shop - 'specially with all those clumsy hunters hangin' around in there. It'd be downright tragic if one of 'em bumped into it and toppled it onto the floor; it'd shatter into a hundred pieces and I'd feel terrible, particularly knowin' all the trouble you went to to get it," Cleave lied through his teeth.
"Nah, I'll keep this at home where it'll be safe. Somewhere it'll remind me of you," he promised.
"Better not let 'im put it in the bathroom, Roxy," I warned.
Due to my deep respect for Mrs. Sadie's feelins and a desire to avoid havin' Sadie classic follow up on 'er threat to make me the new tree topper, I decided that was enough chit-chat till Billy finally came back in and pretty well sucked all the oxygen outta the room.
"Fadie," he grinned with his face all scrunched up like the Grinch contemplating his holiday heist.
"Piss off," she scowled.
"Gimmie," he insisted till she reluctantly handed the Flashback over to him.
I should prolly explain that the rules say ya can't steal somethin' back from the person that ripped you off, so Sadie grumpily snatched up the present Cleave brought and made like Freddy Krueger.
"Hmm... staple gun. Thanks, Cleave. I think I know just the loose end that needs tacked," Sadie growled while loadin' it up with a strip of ammunition.
I guess I wasn't really surprised by what happened next, and despite bein' disgustingly sweet, it was also pretty hilarious considerin' he never saw it comin'.
"Billy," Mrs. Sadie half whispered.
"Huh? Awight! Ih haf Combat!" Billy rambled as he inspected the Flashback box.
"I'd like your video game, please," Mrs. Sadie managed.
"Wha?" he looked up, finally gettin' the picture.
"Can I have your thingie?" she repeated.
"Buh... you don' even wike video gameth," Billy squinted.
"No, but Sadie does," she smiled.
"Serves ya right for makin' us play this stupid game," I managed between snorts.
By that point everyone but Billy and Mrs. Sadie were breakin' up so bad that Apollo hadda come into the livin' room and lick all our faces from chin to brow to make sure we weren't havin' seizures, and in case you were wonderin' - Billy went home with the set of reindeer slippers Roxanne brought that woulda fit anyone else, but that were about six sizes too small for him.
He's a big boy though, and he got over it pretty quickly once I fired up Silent Night, Deadly Night 5 and alla Mickey Rooney's merciless marionettes started blowin' the diaphragms outta horny babysitters. The good news is that LIVE rehired Brian Yuzna to come back and do the last sequel in the franchise even after he forced us all to watch hobo Clint Howard get romantic with a tabloid news reporter and made us all feel real sorry for Clint. That was the old Brian, though. He's learned his lesson. This time he decided it'd be a lot less controversial to just take a beloved piece of 19th Century children's literature and run it through the ole perversion assembly line. Unfortunately, that's the kinda restraint ya hafta learn if ya wanna make it in Hollywood, so even though the man hadda compromise a little to land this gig, we're not gonna judge 'im too harshly until we've seen the finished product. Now, I wouldn't dream of spoilin' exactly *which* piece of beloved 19th Century children's literature was given a modern re-imagining as depicted by our second favorite lunatic body horror freako 'cause that'd be unprofessional, but I'll give ya the next best thing - the gift of knowledge. I won't even kick ya outta the garden afterwards. First, tryna convince your kid that there's nothin' to be afraid of hours after a leather jacket-clad, non-binary bra fetishist bursts outta his closet is gonna be a tough sell. Second, toys can quickly taint a sexual encounter when used heavy-handedly. And third, if you've got 2/3rds of the lights on your Christmas tree blinkin' outta unison while the other third remains consistently lit, you will be ambushed by evil-infused tinker toys and there ain't a jury in this country who'll convict the toymaker.
The movie begins with this kid (Derek) who can't sleep goin' downstairs to get away from the sound of his mom (Sarah) broadcastin' 'er twat spasms all over the house, only when he's finally outta range of the stocking stuffage he finds a present on the front porch and starts openin' it till his dad catches 'im and tells 'im that if he don't get his hinder back in bed he's gonna take Elves off the shelves and force 'im to watch Dan Haggerty battle eugenically enhanced Nazi woodfolk. This is considered felony child abuse in 18 states, but since child protective services have their hands full processin' a glut of new claims due to the recent incarcerations of numerous single mothers brawling at Toys 'R Us over the last Super Nintendo console, the kid takes the threat seriously and climbs to the top of the staircase. Unfortunately, dad decides to open Santora's box and gets attacked by a demon-possessed Pokeball that wraps jump rope around his head and tries suffocatin' 'im till he cracks his skull on the mantle and ends up impaled on a fire poker while Derek's holiday spirit dissipates in the span of about nine seconds. Next thing it's two weeks later and Derek's havin' trouble adjusting to his Man of the House promotion, so mom decides that after seein' his dad get strangled by a Playskool patricide sphere the only sensible thing to do is take the kid to Mickey Rooney's toy store. Mickey (Joe Petto) tries to cheer Derek up but it's tough when he's gotta contend with the lunatic teenage son he sired at age 70 (Pino) jumpin' outta the Betsy Wetsy display wearin' a fright mask that looks like a Chicago style pizza whose box got used as a toboggan. When that fails to lighten the mood, Pino offers the kid this toy that looks like it squirmed outta Geena Davis after she had insect sex with Jeff Goldblum and that's about the point when things get so uncomfortable that Sarah and Derek hafta back outta there real slow like they just got spotted wearin' face masks in Dick's Sporting Goods. After that Mickey comes unglued and basically tells Pino that he's considerin' adoptin' Erik and Lyle Menendez to reduce the damage to his legacy.
Then Mickey sells some toys to this guy who looks like he hustles burner phones in Stamford (Noah) so the weirdo can go back to his hotel room and disassemble 'em and make like he's workin' undercover for the reverse engineering division at Tyco, only pretty quick the landlord comes by to collect his fare and Noah hasta give 'im the placentapede he bought as payment to keep from gettin' tossed out on his arrested adolescent ass. 'Course the guy don't know the thing's been tinkered with by a sadistic toymaker with a height complex, so he just tosses it in the backseat of his car and goes drivin' down the highway until it crawls out of its box and jumps down his throat and starts burrowin' around in there before eventually poppin' out of his eye socket to avenge the loss of its tequila-pickled brethren. Then Noah sneaks into Mickey's shop after hours and goes rootin' through the filing/liquor cabinet till he finds a picture from 1970 where Pino looks exactly the same as he did six hours ago. Noah figures Mickey probably got the number of Joan Rivers' plastic surgeon and thinks nothin' of it until he opens a trap door and purt'near gets dragged into the basement - narrowly escaping death by radon at the hands of Mickey's socially awkward offspring. The next day Noah goes to his mall Santa gig and picks up an extra shift from Clint Howard so he can try warnin' Derek not go to home, only he just ends up lookin' like a pedophile on account of what a difficult business it is explainin' how ya know about a covert Trojan hobby horse conspiracy intended to kickstart the war on Christmas with sincerity. Meanwhile, Pino's rootin' around in Sarah's house imaginin' how he'd look in 'er unmentionables and all the marvelous things he could do with her space if Mickey hadn't forbid 'im from takin' that interior decoration course at the community college, only the family comes home sooner'n he'd expected and he gets caught in the closet and ran outta the house in what appears to be a metaphor so obvious Stevie Wonder couldn't miss it.
Sarah's P.O.'d, so she goes back to Mickey's place and interrupts his 11am scotch break intent on ringin' his silver bells till he explains that he and Pino used to live in her house before Santa cut 'im loose as a subcontractor after the great elf strike of '74 when the little green ingrates tried to unionize, and so she decides to cut 'im a little slack since it's prolly only a matter of time before he gets boiled to death in a vat of holiday cider anyway. Then Mickey kicks the crap outta Pino for runnin' Sarah's delicates through the drool cycle and knocks 'im down the basement steps in a drunken stupor before gettin' this look on his face like he just realized he's destroyed West Virginia's entire economy due to the sheer volume of coal Santa's gonna need for his stocking. While all this's been goin' on Derek's hadda trash can another anonymous gift that turns out to be a set of rollerblades equipped with Wile E. Coyote rocket boosters. Unfortunately, one of the neighborhood kids witnesses his rejection of holiday commercialism, straps on the skates, and gets blasted all around the block until he ends up becomin' the hood ornament on a Ford Escort. Needless to say, havin' survived more attempts on his life in the last week than a Central American dictator, Derek's just a little bit hesitant when Noah stops by the house the next mornin' to offer 'im still another gift, and so Noah only gets about 15 seconds of face time before the babysitter catches 'im and tells 'im to piss off and to quit lookin' for tips on how to befriend children in the Vatican legal archive. Then Noah goes to the parkin' garage of LIVE studios where Sarah's fumblin' 'er keys like an arthritic mechanic tryna grease a wheel bearing and he slaps the tonsil torture liplock submission hold on 'er so she'll calm down and quit tryna open his package with 'er stiletto heels.
Turns out Noah's the kid's real father, and so the two of 'em get swept away in the moment and decide to make passionate parkin' lot love on top of the storm drain where the hobos stop to take a whiz on their way to the homeless shelter every night after Noah explains that he only left 'cause he didn't think he was ready for commitment and needed to pull a tour of duty in Desert Storm to prepare 'imself for marriage. Elsewhere, Mickey dresses up like Santa Claus and drops off a sackload of misfit toys at Sarah's place while the babysitter and 'er chunkhead boyfriend're cockin' around the clitsmas tree, and they're so distracted that neither one of 'em notices the squadron of tanker toys rollin' around the floor until the payload's been delivered. Then Noah tells Sarah about how Mickey got busted for weaponizin' Christmas long before Fox News was even a gleam in Rupert Murdoch's pocketbook and that a few of his friends got maimed by sabotaged slinkies and limited edition Booby Trap Barbie dolls when he was a kid. Probably shoulda mentioned that before they wasted so much time makin' the sign of the yuletide puffer squash in a puddle of engine coolant though, 'cause by the time they get back to the house and find the bloodied, bullet-riddled babysitter, Mickey's already hauled Derek back to Chateau Petto and slung 'im up like a deer carcass to lure his parents in for their season's beatings. If I go much further'n this I'm gonna end up spoilin' the twist for the six people who grew up without a mountain of clamshell Disney videotapes in the house, so I better just shut my trap before I go too far. Just don't watch the endin' with your mama in the room.
Alrighty, well, there ya have it - the conclusion to the most prolific Christmas horror series in history... 'least until we get two more Black Christmas remakes. 'Course the last two entries don't have much to do with Christmas, but they're a damn sight better than Part 1 and a half and Part 3 thanks to the under-appreciated efforts of Brian Yuzna. Some people actually consider The Toy Maker to be the best of the entire series, and while we know that's just a lotta eggnog-induced sacrilege, you could certainly make the case for it bein' the second best. Call me a traditionalist. Call me a sentimentalist. Call me a cranky old man that hasn't understood pop culture since 1998, but even the Hallmark Channel's willin' to pay an illegal immigrant $3 an hour to sprinkle confetti in front of a window to give us a touch of holiday magic, and that's why the original flick is the best of the series - ambience. What's more, I think we can all agree that Christmas horror is a lot better when Mickey Rooney is protesting its release like God intended instead of starrin' in it, 'cause if you remember back to 1984 when the original Silent Night, Deadly Night ads were runnin' in the middle of Little House on the Prairie, Mickey got all bent outta shape and started firin' off letters of condemnation to the Church Ladies of America until the PTA and enough helicopter parents got together and started threatenin' to geld the TriStar pegasus if the distributor didn't pull the flick outta theaters. If you think you may've encountered one of these people in real life but aren't certain, you'll know 'em by the fact that they're all hacked off about "cancel culture" nowadays. But I think the one good thing to come outta all this is the fact that Mickey eventually saw the error of his ways and came to appreciate the redeeming social value of a flick about a cybernetics visionary whose struggles with alcoholism create a compelling family dynamic as he tries to maintain a tenuous relationship with his troubled teenage son. I mean, it's either that or the man was a hypocrite of the highest order, but I'm choosing to believe that Mickey, in his twilight years, saw the light and wanted to make amends for his past transgressions. So Mickey, if you're out there, we're all proud of ya. It takes a big man to admit his mistakes. Even if ya did kinda go off the deep end durin' that Twilight Zone commentary track.
Sorry about that. I always get a little sentimental this time of year when I look around and see a whole new crop of kids who haven't yet had the everlovin' dump scared out of 'em by the guy who's supposed to be the embodiment of everything wholesome and good about the holiday season. I'll try cuttin' back on the sap from now on, and you have my personal assurance that the infectious spirit of Christmas will in no way affect my impartiality where it concerns the unbiased analysis of the series finale. The plot could be definitively summed up in a single sentence were I willing to make the comparison to the literary/cinematic story upon which it is based, and although most people will make the connection within the first half hour of the flick, I'm not gonna spoil the ending by naming names. It is, however, an interesting take on the story. Some people may be disappointed that the series didn't return to its original killer Santa roots after abandoning them at the conclusion of Part 3, and while I do understand that sentiment, it's best to remember what dumpster fires the first two sequels were and ask yourself if you really want more of that. The story may not be as original as that of Part 4, but it's a lot easier to follow 'cause they decided to only include plot twists that don't directly contradict the overriding theme of the movie.
The acting ranges from middling to good - the downside being that the middling actors have the two most important roles. Jane Higginson and Tracy Fraim are passable as the star-crossed couple who reunite to challenge Mickey Rooney's holiday reign of terror, but they both come across as uncomfortable and a bit inexperienced. 'Course, this is how you get experience, so I'm not gonna go dumpin' Grinch goobies all over 'em, but I will say that they were lucky to have the supporting cast they did. William Thorne gives a surprisingly good performance as the traumatized pre-teen who spends 90% of the flick unable to speak and he does this entirely with facial expressions and body language that actually make ya believe the kid's seen some shit. Meanwhile, Mickey Rooney and Brian Bremer steal every scene they're in, and while you'd expect that of Rooney after nearly 70 years in the business, Bremer is excellent as the maladjusted, socially awkward teenage son with a secret. It's definitely not the best horror flick Bremer ever did, but it's his finest acting performance to date, particularly given how absurd the story gets during the last 10 minutes. Neith Hunter and Clint Howard also reprise their roles from Part 4 in what amount to little more than cameo performances, and while it's strange to have them back in this fashion, it's also strangely satisfying that an effort was made to connect the flick to its most recent predecessor.
Here's who matters and why ('sides Mickey Rooney and Clint Howard): William Thorne (Demonic Toys, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey), Jane Higginson (The Silencers, Slaughterhouse), Van Quattro (End of Days), Neith Hunter (Near Dark, Silent Night Deadly Night 4, Carnosaur 2, Fright Night Part 2), Conan Yuzna (Silent Night Deadly Night 4, Society), Brian Bremer (Pumpkinhead, Society, Dead Birds, Vicious, Spontaneous Combustion), Gerry Black (Re-Animator, Howling VI), Jennifer Pusheck (Frankenstein: The College Years), Gary Schmoeller (Stitches, Return of the Living Dead III), Eric Welch (Vamp), Richard N. Gladstein (Silent Night Deadly Night 3 & 4).
The special effects were again handled by Screaming Mad George, but it's pretty clear that Part 5 either received a lower budget than Part 4, or received the same budget that disproportionately went towards paying Mickey Rooney's fee. In those days everybody thought you needed a name actor, 'cause apparently none of them ever saw Night of the Living Dead, Chainsaw, Evil Dead, Phantasm, or Nightmare on Elm Street, so I imagine they spent a lotta their cash gettin' Mickey on board. Anyway, what that means is we don't get the elaborate effects sequences you'd normally see when the studio gives Screaming Mad George an expense account and gets out of his way. You don't get to see much of the fire poker impalement, the placentapede-infested head of the hotelier just kinda looks like a football somebody left out in the snow for 4 months, the miniature car explosion is clearly just that, and the prosthetic torso built to absorb the toy soldier artillery blasts are decidedly unflesh-like (though the blood is pretty good and there's plenty of it). The only decent effects come at the climax, and while they're the best of the flick, they're just not up to the usual Screaming Mad George standards of flicks like Bride of Re-Animator, The Guyver, or Society.
The shooting locations are even less effective than those of Part 4, which itself was already mightily lacking in Christmas atmosphere. Don't worry though, 'cause they stuck a line in the script to explain this when they say, "That's Christmas in California for ya." I've said this before and I'll say it again - if you're gonna make a Christmas movie, make it in Maine, or Wisconsin, maybe Saskatchewan - don't give us this crapola where it looks like somebody hadda mow the lawn the day before to avoid a fine from the code enforcement officer. As far as specific locations, we got the family's residence, a short sequence in a mall, the LIVE studios building, a parking garage, and the toy store, the latter being the only decent one that manages to capture the feeling of a small, independent setup that's run entirely by a single person. Unfortunately, this one probably has the least holiday feel of any flick in the series, and while that's a pretty low bar, you can at least recall seeing people's breath in the earlier sequels so's to give the impression it's cold outside. We don't even get that here - it's pretty pitiful.
The soundtrack is the silliest thing about the flick, though not to the extent that you would suggest it tips the film's genre balance into Comedy territory. The movie is chock-full of cartoony nonsense, including but not limited to rocket-propelled rollerblades, and a wind-up arm that involves itself sexually in the babysitter/boyfriend scene. Truthfully, when looked upon in the context of the flick, you must acknowledge that not only is it perfectly in tune with the tone of the movie but that it's also the only aspect that successfully incorporates even a hint of Christmas as it samples music from The Nutcracker Suite and maintains that twinkly feel that makes ya all nostalgic for shakin' presents as a kid. Not especially catchy or memorable, but it works.
Overall, despite its refreshingly coherent plot, Part 5 suffers greatly from the loss of Clint Howard in a leading role, weak special effects, and the continued separation from the Christmas backdrop that got it to the dance. It's no match for Clint's brain-damaged hobo shenanigans, but still miles ahead of Parts 2 and 3, so check it out when 'tis the season.