Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Silent Night, Deadly Night / Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (1984/1987)

Welcome back kiddies! Did you have a good Hallowscream and Thankskilling? Good! Since Christmas is around the corner, I figured that we would talk about a little story that caused an army of angry parents to protest back in the winter of 1984.  You're in luck, I'm feeling extra generous this year. After all, Christmas is the time for giving. So, I'm giving you TWO regrues for the slice of one!  This year, Santa has some bones to pick with those who've been naughty all year, especially on Garbage Day!!!! HEHEHEHEHAHAHA!!!
 On Christmas Eve, five year old Billy Chapman goes with his parents and baby brother Ricky to visit his grandfather, who is in a mental hospital. Old gramps apparently is catatonic, meaning he hasn't moved and spoken a word in quite a long time.  Billy's parents step out of the room to talk with a doctor, while Billy stays with grandpa. Once Billy's parents leave the room however, the old man frightens little Billy by telling him that Christmas Eve is the scariest night of the year and that Santa Claus punishes those who've been naughty all year.   That night on the way home, Billy's parents stop their car to help a man dressed in a Santa suit who's vehicle has apparently died. It turns out that the man had robbed a store earlier that night and pulls a gun out of his pocket. The man shoots Mr. Chapman in the head. Billy gets out of the car and hides behind some bushes. He witnesses the man drag his mother out of the car, rape her in the middle of the road, and slit her throat. 
Three years have passed and Billy and his brother Ricky are both in an orphanage ran by the sadistic Mother Superior.  Sister Margaret can see that Billy needs professional help, but Mother Superior believes in strict punishment.  Mother Superior's plans to help poor Billy consists of forcing him to sit on Santa's lap even though he is terrified, tying his arms and legs to his bed when he has nightmares of his parents being killed, and whipping him with a belt.
Ten years have passed and now eighteen year old Billy has a job at a toy store. Everything is going great at first. His fellow co-workers love having him around.  And then the holidays come around, which then Billy begins to fall back into paranoia and fear.  Things get worse when the store Santa breaks his ankle and Billy's boss, Mr. Simms, makes Billy be Santa Claus unaware of Billy's phobia with Christmas. After the store closes on Christmas Eve, Billy witnesses one of his co-workers trying to rape the cashier girl Pam in the back room. This forces Billy's mind to snap and he goes on a killing rampage that makes the season of giving turn into the season of killing.
  In 1978 and 1980, HALLOWEEN and FRIDAY THE 13TH changed the genre of horror. The '80s brought on the slasher trend. No holiday was safe from those masked maniacs that love to slice and dice horny teenagers in creative ways.   We had PROM NIGHT, TERROR TRAIN, MY BLOODY VALENTINE, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME, NEW YEAR'S EVIL, APRIL FOOL'S DAY, and countless others.   Since Halloween was used for one of these films, why not Christmas? It is one of the biggest holidays.  Wouldn't it be cool to see some nutjob kill horny teens while dressed as Santa Claus?  There was already a slasher flick involving Christmas titled BLACK CHRISTMAS about a psycho that sneaks into the attic of a sorority house during Christmas break and begins to kill the sorority sisters one by one. But, we want to see a film where the big jolly guy in red gets to mess some people up! Well, that wish was granted not once but twice. CHRISTMAS EVIL came along about a man who went psycho and wore a Santa Claus suit, but kinda went under the radar. 
     In 1984, a little slasher flick titled SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT was released by Tri Star to cash in on the whole slasher trend with a Christmas approach.  Unfortunately, whoever made the advertisements for the film decided that it would be great to make it look as if Santa was the killer instead of a traumatized young man. This caused so much controversy since apparently little kids saw the television and newspaper ads and became scared of jolly ol' St. Nick. Parents from all over protested the hell out of this little film as if it were the Anti-Christ of cinema.  Seriously?  I mean, I get the whole point with how the advertisements went about this film the wrong way, but all of this shit over a 90 minute slasher film? Where were these parents when CHRISTMAS EVIL or SANTA'S SLAY came out? Hell, in SANTA'S SLAY, Santa is actually the killer and is written to be the son of the Devil! Why this film out of all of the stuff that has been released to a movie theater or on video?  I hope someone comes out with a killer Easter Bunny movie just to piss these protesters off even more.   SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT was pulled from theaters not long after its release and all of the ads were taken down too.  The film got the recognition that it truly deserved on VHS and now on DVD.
There's no denying that the controversy made this film even popular and made it the cult classic it is today.  Now, it is a Christmas must see for any horror fan.
   SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT has a really good story of child trauma and how it really can affect someone if it isn't dealt with rightfully.  Billy's problem keeps getting worse because everyone refuses to get him some help. He needs a way to deal with what happened to him in his past without it damaging his mind.  Since he is under the sadistic care of Mother Superior, his chances of living a normal life without the mirror of rape and murder are slimmer than ever.  The true villain of the movie is Mother Superior, not Billy.  If Mother Superior had actually given a rat's ass about this kid in the first place by providing him with mental care, he wouldn't have snapped and began killing people. That's what these protesting parents don't get about the film.   They all jumped to conclusions and refused to look at the movie closely. This film in no way, shape, or form is about Santa directly or him being a murderer. Parents and critics just saw the ads and forced themselves to not really see the story for what it really was representing.  General audiences will probably never understand why we love horror movies.  They treat these films as "garbage" or "trash" without really allowing themselves to experience their humanity.  Slasher movies are like seeing a magician do a trick. We all are stunned and find ourselves wondering how it was done. Same goes for seeing a character get killed in a horror movie. We are amazed at how real it looks and are curious how the special FX was done to make the killing look so real to us.  Also, we like to be scared every now and then. 
 The biggest thing I enjoyed about SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT is that it was a character piece, which doesn't usually occur in most slasher films.  We see this character gradually slip into madness.   Most movies like this just have some wackjob in a mask killing teens. The killer is human and expresses real emotion. This film is not trying to have us root for the killer, but feel sorry for him and understand his madness.   
 The kills in SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT are actually pretty cool. We get a guy getting choked to death with Christmas lights, a girl being stabbed with a box cutter, a guy gets a hammer to the head, a woman shot with a bow and arrow, a topless Linnea Quigley being impaled on deer antlers, a guy being thrown through a window and the glass stuck in him, and a sledder being decapitated with an axe.
The film definitely has a decent amount of female nudity. Linnea Quigley, ahhh!!  What? Eighties girls are fucking hot!
In case you all are wondering, yes, Billy does make it back to the orphanage for one last good kill: MOTHER SUPERIOR!
It's too bad that he didn't get the chance to off that bitch.  This lady shouldn't be a nun! She should be babysitting Damian Thorn. Oh well, at least she got it in that sequel thingy.
I do however have a few issues with the film.  The main issue isn't exactly for the film itself, but for the re-released DVD that Anchor Bay released a few years back. There's a few spots during the film where it turns really dark and then turns normal lighting/color again.  The second is that Mother Superior didn't get killed when she was the true villain of the movie along with that psycho who murdered Billy's parents at the beginning of the movie.
The story by Paul Caimi and screenplay written by Michael Hickey was pretty good. 
Charles E. Sellier, Jr. did a fine job at directing the movie.  It moved at a steady pace and really built up the character of Billy very well. 
The acting was fantastic.  Both Jonathan Best (Billy- 5 yrs old) and Danny Wagner (Billy- 8 yrs old) were really great as young Billy Chapman.  Robert Brian Wilson  was fantastic as eighteen year old Billy. This guy definitely convinced me that he had gone nuts.  Lilyan Chauvin was a totally evil bitch as Mother Superior. I wanted this character to die from the beginning!  Gilmer McCormick was very good as Sister Margaret, who felt sorry for Billy and tried to help him.  Linnea Quigley showed her boobs as Denise and was very sexy.  Britt Leach cracked me up as Billy's boss, Mr. Simms. This guy was just hilarious when he got drunk and had the best lines of dialogue.
" Christmas is over! Time to get shitfaced!!!"
The cast was great as a whole.
Overall, SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT is a must watch for every horror fan around the holidays.  You better watch out though because Santa is making a list and checking it twice and he'll find out who's naughty or nice.
Ricky Caldwell is locked up in some mental institution and tells his psychiatrist, Dr. Henry Bloom, about what happened to his brother Billy and about why he is locked up. After forcing us to watch the entire first movie again for 45 minutes and seeing Ricky go trigger happy on GARBAGE DAY, Ricky finally kills Dr. Bloom and escapes the mental ward. He returns to Mother Superior's 666 numbered apartment dressed in a Santa outfit to finish where Billy left off.
  In 1984, a little slasher movie called SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT was protested to death by outraged critics and parents.   SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT was immediately removed from theaters before it could really gain anything at the box office.  However because of all of the outrage, slasher fans were curious about seeing the film. So much so that SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT got a lot of its money back and gained a major cult status on home video.  Back then and even today, a movie that is a hit is usually guaranteed a sequel or franchise.  While SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT is a damn good slasher flick, I personally didn't think it needed a sequel. I mean, the killer got shot to shit at the end and died before he could kill that sadistic bitch of a nun named Mother Superior. How the fuck could there be a sequel to that? Well, people probably said the same exact thing when FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 came out in 1981 even though the killer was clearly decapitated at the end of the first movie.  
      However, it was hinted at the very end of SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT that the killer's younger brother Ricky may continue where Billy left off just by his facial expression and his use of the word "naughty" before the ending credits.
 The funny part is that SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT PART 2 did not start as a sequel.   Some guy named Lee Harry was hired to re-edit the original SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT and get it ready for a re-release, but to record extra footage of an adult Ricky kinda telling the story.  Lee Harry and his co-writer  Joseph H. Earle began to write the script for the new footage and somehow came up with the idea to turn this re-release into both a re-release and a sequel combined.  They wrote like forty-five pages of a story about Ricky  and then padded the movie out to ninety minutes with forty minutes of stock footage from the original film that was used as flashbacks.   I have to say that this was a pretty interesting idea. Terrible, but interesting nonetheless.
 The thing that makes SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT PART 2 watchable is the overacting of Eric Freeman as Ricky. This guy is so hilariously bad that I couldn't take my eyes off of him. From him widening his eyebrows to his hilarious evil laugh to his terribly yet hilarious dialogue.  What's not to enjoy?   The scene that everyone knows is the infamous scene where Ricky shoots a guy taking out his trash and shouts "GARBAGE DAY!".  You can see this clip just about anywhere on the internet and it is absolutely golden!  
 For Christmas Eve, it sure looks like one hot summer day outside. It looks more like I was watching THE ADVENTURES OF PETE & PETE with neighbors being killed by some wackjob bafoon carrying a gun than a SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT sequel.  I was just waiting for Artie to show up and show off his fake muscles before being shot in the face on GARBAGE DAY!
I also find it funny that the actor playing Ricky as a teenager actually looks older than Eric Freeman.  Dr. Bloom cracked me up when he just wrote "RED CAR!" in his notes while Ricky was describing the time he ran some rapist over with a red car because it reminded him of when his mother was raped in the first movie.  Ricky also used to have a girlfriend named Jennifer. Nothing sparks off a romance like a girl knocking you off your motorcycle and almost killing you only to smile and giggle.  The perfect date is taking your boyfriend who has post trauma of Christmas to a movie theater that shows a clip of the man who murdered his parents rob a convenient store that was obviously taken right from the first movie!
Speaking of the first movie, how the fuck does Ricky remember a lot of this? He was just an infant when his parents were killed and Billy went through all of the shit in the first film. The only thing Ricky would know is that his parents are dead, Billy was abused by Mother Superior, his brother went nuts, and he did see Billy try to kill Mother Superior. THAT'S ALL!  The only one who could tell us the rest was Billy and he's dead now! 
 SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT PART 2 really lacks in the continuity department. You know they got bad continuity in a sequel when the character's last name changes in the sequel. Ricky Chapman to Ricky Caldwell? That would be like if they changed Jason Voorhees to Jason Cunningham in one of the FRIDAY THE 13TH sequels.
The kills in this movie are absolutely funny. A dude gets stabbed with an umbrella, Ricky makes a cop shoot himself in the head, there's the whole GARBAGE DAY! clip, and a dude gets jumper cables shoved in his mouth causing his eyes to explode.   I also love it after Ricky kills Jennifer's old boyfriend and turns and says "PUNISH!" that she actually does a big GULP and says "UGH OH!" before trying to run. Oh well, he strangles her with the car antenna.
They decided that it would be best to recast Mother Superior with a much older actress. Probably because the original actress would have taken one look at the script and threw it back into their hands.  It's also funny that her house number is 666 and that she doesn't have any wheel chair ramps in her home, yet magically is able to get up the stairs without a hitch.
The cops show up and find that Mother Superior's head is detachable and doesn't squirt blood.  They see Ricky, shoot him up, and then he smiles at us with a drip of blood from his lip. THE END!
Like I said, Eric Freeman is what really makes this film highly entertaining. This is the best overacted performance that I've seen in a horror film since Matthew McConnaughey in THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE NEXT GENERATION and the entire cast of TROLL 2.
It's too bad that SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT 3: BETTER WATCH OUT sucked and that SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT 4: INIATION was kinda forgettable. The only other installment of this franchise that I can honestly recommend if you want some fun and enjoyment is SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT 5: THE TOY MAKER, which is like a horror/comedy take on the Pinocchio story with killer toys!
Overall, SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT PART 2 is a very hilarious B-Movie. It's so terrible from a filmmaking perspective, but so fucking entertaining from an audience perspective.  Total recommendation just for a great laugh. Plus, you get two movies for the price of one! 
2.5/4 STABS
Looks like Christmas came a little early this year.  Have a Scary Christmas everyone and a Happy New Fear!   HEHEHEHEHAHAHAHA!!!