(US - 1987)
Directed by Lee Harry. Written by Lee Harry and Joseph H. Earle. Cast: Eric Freeman, James L. Newman, Elizabeth Kaitan, Jean Miller, Darrel Guilbeau, Brian Michael Henley, Corinne Gelfan, Michael Combatti, Kenneth Bryan James, Ron Moriarty, Frank Novak, Nadya Wynd, J. Aubrey Island, Randy Post, Lilyan Chauvan, Gilmer McCormick, Robert Brian Wilson, Britt Leach, Linnea Quigley, Tara Buckman, Charles Dierkop. (R, 88 mins)
"I can't think of a time I've ever been scammed. Well, except for SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT PART 2." - Video Junkie's William Wilson
The notorious Santa slasher SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT caused a major nationwide uproar when it hit theaters in the fall of 1984, leading to parent protests, condemnation from religious and political organizations, and even Siskel & Ebert admonishing the makers of the film and condemning its profits as "blood money." The outrage was so focused on SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT that another similarly-themed slasher film released at the same time, DON'T OPEN TILL CHRISTMAS, came and went with almost no notice. Such hysteria was commonplace in the era of the "Satanic Panic," when the media convinced nervous parents that Satan-worshiping cults were hiding in plain sight and everything from horror movies to heavy metal functioned as convenient scapegoats for kids behaving badly. It wasn't the first film to depict a killer Santa Claus (the opening segment of 1972's TALES FROM THE CRYPT had Joan Collins trapped in a house, trying to elude an escaped maniac in a Santa costume, and the 1980 films CHRISTMAS EVIL and TO ALL A GOODNIGHT both had killer Kris Kringles), or even the first slasher movie to have a Christmas setting (1974's BLACK CHRISTMAS, where sorority girls are offed by a lunatic who's hiding in the attic), but for some reason, America collectively decided to lose its shit over SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT. Once the controversy died down, people saw it for what it was: a serviceable and largely generic exploitation/horror outing with no more or less splatter and T&A than a dozen other holiday/calendar-themed similar slasher movies.
umbrella impalement--have an undeniable panache. He's also credited with editing, and indeed, there's a couple of creative cuts and some camera moves indicating that Harry possesses some degree of technical, if not screenwriting skill. There's also a legitimately hair-raising Spiro Razatos car stunt that's almost worth the price of admission, but everything else here is strictly amateur night, starting with the gratingly overwrought performance by Freeman, one of the worst actors you'll ever see. SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT PART 2 would've been just another crummy '80s horror sequel--albeit more cynical than most considering it's really only 45 minutes of new footage--but it's Freeman who almost single-handedly turns it into an MST3K-worthy bad-movie classic. Sure, there's plenty of WTF? bits like Dr. Bloom's gaudy rings and some memorably idiotic dialogue (Jennifer to Chip: "You stood me up! You cheated on me! You ruined my best sweater!"), but Freeman, one of the most charisma-deficient actors to ever be given the lead in a feature film, seems to be engaged in an endless battle with his own eyebrows to be the center of attention. Eyes bugged and veins popping, he overemphatically spits out every Freddy Krueger-esque bon mot in a way that suggests David Lee Roth starring in a community theater production of THE SHINING ("I've got a present for you!"), mechanically struts around like he's auditioning for a TERMINATOR ripoff, grunting pseudo-Hulk threats like "Punish!" and "Naughty!" when he gets pissed off, which is all the time, and randomly cackling. He plays to the back rows and beyond, and nowhere is his acting style better summed up than in the film's most infamous moment:
HELLHOLE and edited the 1986 Cannon pickup THUNDER RUN) and wanted to get into directing, seeing this as a challenge and an opportunity to get his feet wet. To date, his only other feature is the 1991 straight-to-video actioner STREET SOLDIERS. Freeman logged a few bit parts and TV appearances (including gigs on re-enactment shows like DIVORCE COURT and AMERICA'S MOST WANTED) before leaving the business in 1992. He remained blissfully ignorant of the burgeoning cult status of SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT PART 2 or that "Garbage Day!" had become a viral sensation. Freeman fell so far off the radar that Harry couldn't even track him down when he was contacted about recording a commentary for the film's first DVD release in 2004. He emerged from obscurity when he attended a screening of the film in 2013 and saw the response that it--and "Garbage Day!"--got from fans ("I've learned to accept it," Freeman says in the Blu-ray's 75-minute retrospective doc), and was inspired to give acting another shot. Since then, he's had a small role in the 2016 made-for-TV Vivica A. Fox holiday vehicle A HUSBAND FOR CHRISTMAS, and a guest spot on a 2017 episode of the CBS series BULL. SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT PART 2 was followed in 1989 by SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT 3: BETTER WATCH OUT!, inexplicably directed by a slumming Monte Hellman (!) and with a pre-Rob Zombie Bill Moseley stepping in as Ricky. The franchise concluded with two in-name-only sequels--both of which featured Clint Howard as a Ricky but not the Ricky--with 1990's SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT 4: INITIATION and 1991's SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT 5: THE TOY MAKER, the latter certainly not the pinnacle of Mickey Rooney's career.
|SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT PART 2
opening in Toledo, OH on 5/15/1987