Monday, 28 April 2008

Silent Night, Deadly Night: Part 2 (1987)

"Garbage day!"

Silent Night, Deadly Night was a competent if unremarkable slasher. Apparently the sequel was intended to be more of a simple re-cut, with a few minutes of extra footage, but it ballooned into something much, much worse. I considered lumping the review of the second film in with the first, for reasons that will become clear, but it ended up too damn long, plus this film has enough koo-koo-crazy moments to deserve it's own post.

It opens with Billy's brother Ricky, who has now grown into a concrete slab of a man (Eric Freeman) being interviewed by psychiatrist Dr. Henry Bloom (James Newman). During the interview, Ricky recaps the events of the first film, a process that consists mainly of narrated footage from the first film and takes over 30 minutes.

Ricky starts with the whole Santa Claus murdering his parents story from the first film. Anticipating the audience's reaction, the psychiatrist asks how he could possibly recall events that took place when he was a newborn infant. He responds with "I was there, wasn't I?!" (he overacts so broadly that everything he says merits an exclamation point) which doesn't clarify things. To further puzzlement, he then has flashbacks to events he wasn't even present for. A few random facts have been changed for no apparent reason eg the man dressed as Santa Claus who was accidentally shot by police is now Old Man Kelsey the janitor instead of Father O'Brian.

After the first film has been thoroughly plundered of all interesting footage, Ricky starts recapping his life story post-Billy. After his brother was killed, the orphanage was shut down and Ricky was taken in by the Rosenbergs. You couldn't ask for a better family for a kid who is traumatised by Christmas, I guess. Unfortunately, Ricky also suffers from a fear of nuns (nunophobia) and goes into post-traumatic shock whenever he sees the colour red. After his step-father dies, his insanity starts bubbling to the surface. He witnesses some dude attempting (and failing) to rape some woman, so he runs the dude over about a dozen times in his own car. She thanks him, which seems like a strange reaction since she didn't seem hugely upset about his attempted rape moments before. He also murders some loan shark in an alley for some reason, impaling him with an umbrella and then opening it for the coup de grĂ¢ce.

One day while heading, I assume, to a 50s themed costume party, some girl Jennifer (Elizabeth Kaitan) backs into his motorcycle, prompting girlish giggles and the beginnings of a relationship. Ricky manages to keep his murderous urges under wraps at first, until some noisy jerk at a movie theater tips him over the edge. He murders the guy right there in the theater (nobody notices, or if they do then they don't care). It should be noted that they are there watching Silent Night, Deadly Night, which brings up all kinds of logical paradoxes I don't even want to think about.

While Ricky is busy murdering, Jennifer is harassed by Chip, some preppy asshole ex-boyfriend with terrible bleached hair. During a walk through a suburban neighbourhood they run into Chip again, and after a brief argument Rick electrocutes him with jumper leads until his eyes explode. Afterwards his girlfriend gets mouthy so he strangles her with a car aerial. This prompts the appearance of the most unprofessional cop ever. Stealing his gun and killing him, Ricky goes on a rampage, shooting everybody he comes across. He hilariously shouts "Garbage day!" before gunning down a fellow holding a garbage can. He also shoots a car in the radiator which causes it to flip over (props to the stunt double who stood mere centimeters from the flipping vehicle) and explode in an impressive fireball. Cornered by cops, he attempts suicide but finds himself out of ammunition.

Thus ends his series of flashbacks. Having murdered the psychiatrist, he escapes from the mental facility with the aim of killing the Mother Superior. She is a little worse for wear after the first film. She has had a stroke which has left one side of her face a morass of scar tissue as well as turning her into a completely different actor (Jean Miller). She has retired and lives alone but she still wears her habit. I guess old habits are hard to... oh, fuck it. Somehow Ricky tracks her down and starts chasing her around her house. At one point she is dumped from her wheelchair and tossed down the stairs. Not only is she okay, but apparently she keeps a spare wheelchair downstairs for just such an occasion! Anyway, Sister Mary shows up with a policeman but are they too late to save the Mother Superior? Yes, yes they are. Ricky gets blasted through a window by gunfire, but lest we think a sequel is an impossibility, he pops his eyes open just before the credits roll.

If the 30 minutes of recycled footage wasn't enough to sink the film, Eric Freeman's performance doesn't just sink it, it blows the sunken wreck to pieces with a depth charge. He snarls every line as if someone were holding a gun to his head shouting "Crazier! CRAZIER!" Maybe that's how director Lee Harry works, I don't know. Although it ruins the film as horror, his delivery of some of the lines is comedy gold. Probably not funny enough to sit through the film, though.

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