Eric Freeman - Ricky Caldwell
James L. Newman - Dr. Henry Bloom
Elizabeth Cayton - Jennifer
Jean Miller - Mother Superior
Kenneth Brian James - Chip
Randy Baughman - Eddie
Randy Port - Loudmouth in Theatre
Genre - Horror/Slasher/B-Movie/Cult/Sequel
Running Time - 88 Minutes
In 1984, there was a very vocal group of parents who joined together to "ban" a film that they felt was inappropriate for their children due to the horrible depiction of Santa Claus. The film in question is, of course, SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT - a horror film where a traumatized teenager dresses up like Santa Claus and decides to kill all of the "naughty" people after he snaps. While the film isn't as bad as these overdramatic parents were claiming it to be, the film still left an imprint on children who watched it, now becoming a holiday horror classic due to its unwarranted reputation. The film made a slight profit due to the film being forcefully taken out of theaters [as well as going up against A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, which destroyed business for being innovative and scary], meaning that a sequel was most likely going to be produced.
The producers of the first movie hired Lee Harry to re-edit SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT for a re-release in theaters to build momentum for the upcoming sequel. Harry and his three [really???] co-writers, however, wanted to direct new footage for the film as a continuation with the original villain's brother, Ricky, as the main character. The two sides compromised each other's ideas in order to make this sequel. However, the script wasn't long enough to fill the length of a feature film, leading to the first third of the film being nothing but footage of the original SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT and a 10-minute closing credits scene to fill up more time! Who thought this was a great idea?
Apparently not many people at the time of its release. It was actually released in April of 1987 [because April is full of Christmastime sentiments] and bombed, not even making its small budget back. Even its appearance on VHS and on DVD is very limited, almost as if the producers of this film don't want this movie to exist for some reason. However, the internet age has given SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT PART 2 a brand new life - turning it into a monster cult classic and bad movie icon due to lead actor Eric Freeman's over-the-top performance, especially during the "Garbage Day!!" sequence [which has turned into an internet meme]. But is SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT PART 2 worth all this attention? Or does the film deserve to be punished for being "naughty"?
Ricky Caldwell (Eric Freeman) is in a mental hospital, recounting to Dr. Henry Bloom (James L. Newman) about his older brother Billy's (Robert Brian Wilson) rampage years ago in the original SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT. This eventually leads to Ricky discussing his own experiences, from having a beautiful girlfriend (Elizabeth Cayton) to hating his Mother Superior (Jean Miller) and wanting revenge on her for ruining his and Billy's life. This leads to Ricky escaping the psych ward, dressing up as Santa, and wanting to deliver a deadly present to his former Mother Superior. Will Ricky succeed where Billy failed? Will Ricky suffer the same fate as his older brother? And when exactly is Garbage Day?
Let me just to put it out there: SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT PART 2 is a horrible film in every single way. The story is awful. The acting is atrocious. The direction is ho-hum. There's nothing technically fantastic about it. Yet, it's one of the unintentionally entertaining films of all time, making it a success when it really shouldn't be.
Like I said, the screenplay by Lee Harry, Lawrence Appelbaum, Joseph H. Earle, and Dennis Patterson [now I know how many people it takes to write crappy cinema] is a big ol' mess. Things don't make sense. Continuity is thrown right out the window. Almost half of the movie is footage from another movie! This has to be one of the laziest and most pointless screenplays in movie history. I mean, the first half of the film is just a really long recap of the events in SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT "narrated" by Ricky. But instead of giving us footage from Ricky's perspective, it's just the same stuff we saw in the original. Speaking of which, how is possible for Ricky to remember his parents' death at the hands of a man dressed like Santa Claus when he was barely a year old [and crying his lungs out at the time, by the way]? Or how does Ricky know exactly what went down during Billy's final hours during his murderous rampage? Ricky tells the psychiatrist that Billy told him, which is absolutely impossible! Not only is this lazy and horrible filmmaking, but it makes watching the full-length SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT a waste of time! Just watch PART 2 and you won't miss anything! Is this a sequel or the Best of SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT: The Highlights?
There are other issues as well. For one, why would Ricky, a guy who murdered a bunch of people, not be restrained or drugged during his interview ALONE with the doctor? Is this proper protocol in psych wards to let the inmates take charge of the asylum? Is this Haddonfield, Illinois or something? Not only that, but there are items that could cause bodily harm around him. Genius! Were they really watching SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT during the date inside the theater? I don't know if that's horrible filmmaking or incredibly smart to make us feel and see Ricky's craziness as he watches his brother's torment on the silver screen. I also loved the fact that Mother Superior, who is wheelchair bound, lives in a two-floor home that's not wheelchair accessible. HOW THE HELL DOES SHE GET UP THOSE STAIRS??? And when does a stroke give its victim burn scars? I NEED ANSWERS!!!
While just thinking about the narrative hurts my brain, I will commend the screenwriters for adding moments of young Ricky within the material of SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT to make the character more of a presence. It makes Ricky's transition from innocent kid to crazy, campy bastard more believable. I also found moments unintentionally funny. For example, why was 17-year-old Ricky older looking than Adult Ricky? Was Ricky really sent with a Jewish family to get away from Christmas? How funny is the fact that Mother Superior's address is 666? And that "sex scene" was just laughable. I think Jennifer got more pleasure during her death scene. And the "Garbage Day!!!" sequence is definitely the highlight of the film, along with some of the one-liners. It's a terribly written film, but at least it made me laugh. Some supposed comedies can't even manage that.
Since the film is majorly low budget [$250,000], the gore effects here aren't all that impressive. We get blood from gunshots, an umbrella impaling, a dude run over multiple times, eyes bursting due to high levels of electricity, and moments seen from the original SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT [the antlers death is still cool after all these years]. The decapitation scene is ridiculous in the fact that the cut was so clean, meaning there was no blood gushing from either the head or the neck it sat on after the fact! I guess certain people don't bleed?
The direction by Lee Harry isn't that great. He seems to have a foot fetish, as a lot of the shots in the film were focused on feet. He also loves his extreme close-ups, especially if it's on Eric Freeman. The editing is a bit choppy at times. There's no tension or suspense. And the tone doesn't feel like Christmas at all [where are the Christmas decorations? The last fifteen minutes don't count!]. Supposedly, Harry had planned for this sequel to be silly and campy, for which I call bullshit on. This film was made as seriously as the first one and only claimed this after the fact. But at least the film looks decent and some shots are composed nicely. And I will say, even as lazy as it is, the flashback stuff was handled quite well. The fact that the film wasn't an eyesore is enough praise for me.
The acting is what really turns SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT PART 2 from a waste of time to so-bad-it's-good territory. Eric Freeman is either the worst actor or the greatest actor alive with his performance as Ricky. Never in my life have I've been captivated by a thespian's work like I am with Mr. Freeman. His eyebrow movements are amazing. There should be an acting class based on them. His reciting of dialogue is over-the-top magic. He laughs and kills people with menace and glee. The man is a true revelation and should be honored with his brilliant work in horror cinema. The man steals every scene he's in, and rightfully so. This is how I expect a nutjob to behave in my horror films - not like that boring Robert Brian Wilson guy in the original who took things too seriously. I'll never forget to celebrate Garbage Day for as long as I live. I hope the guy comes out of hiding and cherishes the level of fame he has received. It is quite well-deserved.
As for the other actors, they're bad but in an entertaining way. James L. Newman is actually pretty decent for what he's given. Elizabeth Cayton is your typical B-movie actress - hot, snarky, and willing to get nude if the price is right. Plus she can gulp with the best of them. Kenneth Brian James as Chip cracked me up with his terrible performance. And Jean Miller as Mother Superior knows to vocalize the word "naughty" really well. I'm not sure if this is the least impressive cast or one of the best gathering of horrible actors ever. This film is an anomaly in that way.
THINGS I'VE LEARNED WHILE SCARING PEOPLE IN MY SANTA SUIT
- Ricky is afraid of nuns. I guess he saw SISTER ACT 2: BACK IN THE HABIT. It's somewhat understandable.
- 17-year-old Ricky looks older than Adult Ricky. Joan Rivers should've asked him for his beauty tips before she decided to turn herself into an alien-looking mannequin with all that plastic surgery. I mean, can we talk?
- Don't attempt to rape a woman in front of a mentally disturbed person. Your heart, penis, and ego will be the last things to get bruised.
- Ricky killed someone with an umbrella. I see where Britney Spears took her technique from when she beat up that car that one time during her bald phase. It's more than I learned from watching CROSSROADS.
- Don't try to win back your ex in front of her current boyfriend. You might be shocked when he attacks you over it. Or the shock could be from the jumper cable attached to your tongue. Whichever comes first, I guess.
- Don't pull out a gun on a deranged murderer as you attempt to cuff him. The move is mindblowingly stupid. Literally.
- Mother Superior had a stroke, which unexplicably scarred her face as if she were a burn victim. I guess I won't need to watch THE MAN WITHOUT A FACE to find out why Mel Gibson looks deformed. Thanks for the spoiler, SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT PART 2!
THE FINAL HOWL
SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT PART 2 is a terrible film on a technical level, but a good film on an entertainment level. If I were judging this as a mainstream film, it would totally be WTF? Vault worthy. But since it's a B-movie, I have to use a different scale for it. And on that scale, SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT PART 2 should be a Christmas horror tradition every year. Hell, you get to watch TWO films in one! How many other films can provide that sort of cinematic feat? Truly a horrible, horrible film that deserves your undivided attention every December.
3 Howls Outta 4