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Overall Rating
2.21

Awesome: 12.5%
Worth A Look: 0%
Average: 33.33%
Pretty Bad: 4.17%
Total Crap50%

2 reviews, 12 user ratings


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Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2
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by Jack Sommersby

"Half a Literal Retread, Half an Enjoyably Silly Treat"
3 stars

It doesn't have to be Christmas time for one to get a kick out of the second entry in this popular blood-and-nudity series that goes down as agreeably as a whiskey-spiked eggnog.

Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 isn't exactly a groundbreaking, hardworking sequel or anything remotely of the like, but for what it is it's awfully easy to like -- that is, if you're a fan of the original; if not, you're as apt to as a Merchant/Ivory fan would a Michael Bay production. Director and co-writer Lee Harry was approached by the producers to merely re-cut the original (which was pulled from theatres back in 1984 due to its controversial subject of a killer Santa Claus) and release it as a sequel(!); instead, Harry chose to use the original's standout scenes as flashbacks, thus allowing him with the miniscule budget to shoot new scenes to fill out an eighty-minute running time. In the original, we were made privy to the story of Billy, an eight-year-old who witnessed the slaughter of his parents on Christmas Eve by an armed robber dressed as St. Nick. Adding to his childhood trauma were the stern physical punishments administered to him by the Mother Superior of the orphanage he was raised in until he turned eighteen. (When she addressed him as "William", it had the cold comfort of a North Dakota blizzard.) Not too surprisingly, Billy wasn't exactly in the best Yuletide spirit after being forced to dress as a department-store Santa at his first job -- after witnessing a co-worker aggressively grope a pretty female one he was sweet on, his present garb and flashback to his mother's death caused him to pop his cork and go on a neighborhood killing rampage before being gunned down right in front of his younger brother Ricky, who said in reply to Billy's death, "Punish!", just like Billy said right before killing his victims. Now, at the age of seventeen and a week before he's to be released from a juvenile psychiatric facility, Ricky begins a session with a new psychiatrist to determine whether he's fit to join the outside world.

Of course, things don't get off to the best of starts. First, Ricky greets the psychiatrist with the charming "Fuck off, Doc!" Second, when asked who killed his parents, he replies, "Santa Claus!" (Not the poster boy for mental health, to be sure.) Third, this doctor has the bad luck of being the thirteenth one to have a go at Ricky. Fourth, the session is being recorded by a reel-to-reel machine, and the moment you see the reel being changed you know it's only a matter of time before Ricky strangles the good doc with the tape from it. In between belaboring the obvious in these present-day scenes and rehashing brother Billy's past life in the flashback ones, the screenplay by Harry and Joseph E. Earle also flashes back to Ricky's teenage years from the age of twelve, when he was adopted by caring parents though still prone to panic attacks upon seeing nuns and the color red. At fifteen, a better-adjusted Ricky seems to be getting along fine -- that is, until he's strolling through a field one day and comes across a drunken lout slapping his not-beyond-second-base girlfriend. Responding in good-citizen's kind, Ricky drives over the lout in the guy's own car and thereafter receives a thank-you from the girl. (In a knowing jab on Freud, when the doc comments on it being a red car, Ricky mockingly shoots back, "Red car!" In fact, the beefed-up Freeman delivers almost every line like this, coming down hard on every last couple of words and syllables with a granitic intensity that could bring down the Berlin Wall.) At seventeen, a noticeably beefed-up Ricky has a hottie of a blonde girlfriend, but, again, unforeseen trouble manages to abound: when her jerk of an ex taunts Ricky and harms her, Ricky kindly affixes battery cables to the guy's teeth and electrocutes his eyeballs right through his sunglasses. A few equally colorful incidents later, and Ricky is, unsurprisingly, institutionalized.

What elevates Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 above many of its slasher-flick ilk is its ability at successfully sustaining a good-natured tone in light of its macabre story elements while never turning abrasively uncouth. Harry and Earle show a proper respect for this sub-genre, but they're also willing to toy around in it and poke fun at some of its inherent absurdist qualities -- they push to the extreme extremities we've grown used to over the years, adding a reflexive second layer to them that accentuates their garishness while winking at them with affectation. In a way, it's like being reminded why seeing someone slip on a banana peel is funny -- Harry and Earle would have shown the person slipping on it but also subsequently showing him slip into a cauldron of bubbling banana pudding on the follow-through. One wouldn't think an eye-bulging Ricky mowing down harmless suburbanites while walking down a neighborhood street armed with a .357 Magnum in the film's last quarter could be laugh-out-loud funny, but when this young man who's never fired a gun before manages to hit human bull's-eyes from thirty yards away and loudly (and uproariously) exclaims "Garbage day!" before nailing one carrying a trash can, you can't help but give in to the undiluted giddiness the filmmakers are obviously having at the expense of their own naughty outlandishness. Having the still-living Mother Superior residing in Apt. 666 doesn't exactly set off a laugh riot, granted, but Ricky bringing down an axe on a miniature Santa toy on the sidewalk outside her building that sends the surrounding children away screaming makes up for it. Add to this a yellow umbrella not only impaling through someone but opening up blood-red through the other end, and an appallingly fake movie-theatre set that's the worst of its kind since the pool-hall-masquerading-as-a-grocery-store one in 1995's equally enjoyable comedy chiller The Ice Cream Man, and you have yourself a perfectly enjoyable piece of cinema that never puts on the pretense that you're supposed to respect it in the morning.

The double-feature DVD package of this and its predecessor from Anchor Bay is a real treat, with good video transfers and telling behind-the-scenes info.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=3195&reviewer=327
originally posted: 01/02/05 11:03:16
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User Comments

4/12/13 cr a guilty pleasure sequel with some laughs and good kill scenes 3 stars
11/06/11 Quigley A few classic moments of unintentional hilarity, and that's it. Don't bother. 2 stars
8/04/07 Sambadi GARBAGE DAY! Muahahahah... 5 stars
10/02/05 John Freeman Greatest Movie EVER !!!! 5 stars
9/09/05 Elizabeth Lapicola I maded a casette audio on the morden day of Silentnight,Deadlynight 1 stars
1/08/05 Al Guy Lame. What a lazy attempt at movie-making. 1 stars
5/28/04 Hal Galikakick Take out the flashbacks and your barely left with a trailer 1 stars
12/14/03 Sugarfoot 0/5, by the way... 1 stars
6/16/03 Geo78665 "Garbage Day!!!" Good bad movie. 3 stars
5/21/03 Sugarfoot So bad it will scare the shit out of you. 1 stars
10/29/02 Charles Tatum If you like this, you are insane 1 stars
2/07/02 BINGO The theatre and killing spree scenes are hilarious beyond belief. 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  02-Dec-1987 (R)
  DVD: 07-Oct-2003

UK
  N/A

Australia
  N/A


Directed by
  Lee Harry

Written by
  Joseph H. Earle
  Lee Harry

Cast
  Eric Freeman
  Darrel Guilbeau
  Linnea Quigley
  James Newman



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