Bonus Reviews: Silent Night Deadly Night Part 2 and 3
Horror Bulletin Bonus Reviews #147
For this week’s bonus films, we’ll look at a couple of, honestly, pretty awful ones: First up, “Silent Night Deadly Night 2” from 1987 and then the third part of the series, “Silent Night Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out!” From 1989. Screw on your brain-dome and get ready for Garbage Day, because here we go!
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Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (1987)
• Directed by Lee Harry
• Written by Michael Hickey, Paul Caimi, Lee Harry
• Stars Eric Freeman, James Newman, Elizabeth Kaitan
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 28 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgement Zone
It’s an over-the-top, poorly acted sequel that includes at least forty minutes of reused footage. If you watch the first five minutes and then fast-forward to the forty-two-minute point, you’ll be good to go. It’s a ham-fest for sure, but it’s one of those that’s bad enough to laugh at.
We see that Ricky Campbell, the younger brother who survived the incident in the beginning of the first film and was briefly seen in the orphanage with Billy, is now grown up and is institutionalized in a mental hospital as credits roll.
Dr. Henry Bloom comes in with a recorder and talks to Ricky on December 24th. He asks who killed Ricky’s parents. “Santa Claus,” he answers smugly. Then he goes into the story, and we see a flashback of his parents’ death, the orphanage, and pretty much the entire Cliff’s Notes version of the first film. Well, maybe note too Cliff-Note-ish, as the flashback takes over forty minutes of screen time. Yes, a forty minute regurgitation of the same footage from the first film.
Finally, the flashback ends. Ricky now tells his own story. The orphanage was shut down, and Ricky went to live with foster parents at age twelve. He’s terrified of nuns and the color red and has a seizure when he sees a pair of nuns on the street.
As Ricky got older, he often walked in the park. One time, he spotted a couple making out, and the man starts to rape the girl, causing flashbacks to his own parents’ death. “Naughty,” Ricky says and runs over the man nine or ten times with his red car. The woman thanks him and walks away.
A few years later, he got a job at a restaurant, and spotted a loan shark roughing up a guy in the back. Ricky goes berserk at the sight of the naughty man’s red handkerchief and stabs the man with an umbrella.
There’s nothing about these two incidents in Dr. Bloom’s records. Bloom asks about Jennifer. They met by accident and fell in love. They go to a movie, and there’s a loudmouth in the back row. The film they’re watching is, of course, more footage from part one. Ricky steps outside and Chip, Jennifer’s ex, comes over and starts talking to her. Meanwhile, Ricky kills the loudmouth in the back row.
Next day, they run into Chip again, and Ricky gets in his face. He ends up getting live jumper cables hooked to his tongue. Shocking— at least until his eyeballs explode! Jennifer yells at him, so he kills her as well. A cop runs up behind him, but it goes badly for the cop; now Ricky’s got a gun.
He marches down the street laughing maniacally and shooting people in the quiet suburban neighborhood. He shoots one guy taking out the trash and yells, “Garbage day!” He was going to shoot himself in the head as the police closed in, but he was out of bullets.
Back in now, in the institution, Ricky has strangled Dr. Bloom with the audio tape and escapes. A detective brings in a nun, who explains that the orphanage is closed, but Mother Superior is still alive.
Ricky kills a bell-ringer and steals his Santa costume (who hasn’t wanted to do that?). Somehow he knows Mother Superior’s phone number and heads to her house. He kicks in the door and chases her around. She’s ninety years old and in a wheelchair, but she still manages to give him the slip; she rolls down the steps and grabs a knife.
Mother Superior threatens to punish Ricky, ordering to put his axe down and take his punishment. “Naughty this!” He shouts and hacks her head off. The detectives arrive and shoot him several times. He looks up and smiles, hoping for yet another sequel…
Seriously, a forty-minute recap of the first film? The producers couldn’t or wouldn’t pay for a full film, so they just put half the original in here as a rerun. No matter what came after, I can picture a lot of people not sitting through all that.
Ricky says he remembers all the details about his parents’ murder, but he was only a couple of months old and was laying down on the car seat; he couldn’t have seen anything in the first place, much less understood or remembered any of it.
Eric Freeman, playing Ricky, is just so over-the-top hammy in this. That laugh. Those eyebrows. That smirk. He’s simultaneously the worst actor ever, but his performance on his rampage is also the only redeeming thing about this movie. It’s so hammy that it’s fun, but the first forty minutes are so uselessly time-wasting that it kills the whole thing.
Silent Night Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out! (1989)
• Directed by Monte Hellman
• Written by Rex Weiner, Monte Hellman, Arthur Gorson
• Stars Richard Beymer, Samantha Scully, Bill Moseley, Robert Culp
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 30 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
They do manage to have a sequel despite Ricky getting gunned down at the end of the previous movie. What? He wasn’t really dead. What’s worse than a homicidal maniac? Give him brain damage too. Overall it was decent, with hints of Nightmare on Elm Street, an interesting story, pretty good performances.
Laura wakes up in an empty white room. Except it’s not empty; there’s a man in a hospital bed with a plastic dome where the top of his skull should be. He picks up a scalpel and comes after her. She runs down the hallway, he catches her, but she gets away and runs straight into a room with Santa Claus sitting on his throne. She tells him what she wants for Christmas. He pulls out a knife…
Laura wakes up in the dream lab. She tells Dr. Newbury that in the dream she could see— she’s otherwise blind. She tells him about Santa Claus, but not the dome-headed man or the knives. She goes back to sleep and dreams of the pre-credit sequence of the first film where Billy and Ricky’s parents were killed. The doctor thinks Laura and “the coma victim” may be in psychic contact. “She may be denying her powers.”
The man with the dome over his brain is Ricky, asleep in the next room; he’s the coma victim to whom Dr. Newbury was referring. Laura is right in the room next to him with a huge viewing window, but since she’s blind, she has no idea. We get more flashbacks to the murders, but fortunately, far more briefly than in part two.
Laura wakes up, the experiment is over. She is going to her grandmother’s house in the country for the holidays. She wants to quit the experiments, and Newbury tries to guilt her into continuing. He thinks she subconsciously wants to connect with Ricky.
On the way out, while waiting for her brother to pick her up, she has a vision of the hospital desk attendant having her throat cut. Just her imagination? Nope, a psychic vision of the future.
Santa Claus visits the hospital patients, and stops in Ricky’s room. Ricky’s still in a coma, but he reacts to the rude Santa by killing him. Laura starts hallucinating about Ricky, but Ricky has left the hospital. Ricky can hear in his mind when Laura tells her brother Chris, directions to Grandma’s house. Chris’s girlfriend, Jerri and Laura don’t like each other much.
Chris, Laura, and Jerri have to stop for groceries along the way, so Ricky gets to Grandma’s house first. She gives him hot soup. She also gives him a gift— in a red package.
Dr. Newbury talks to Lt. Connely about Ricky. He remembers the case and Ricky being killed. Newbury explains that they surgically reconstructed Ricky’s brain after being shot multiple times in the previous film, a scientific feat that Connely doesn’t appreciate.
Laura and the others arrive at Granny house. Chris and Jerri take a bath, and Connely and Newbury try to track them down, but end up talking about cell phone plans. Chris and Jerri go outside to look at the stars. There’s no sign of Ricky— or Granny.
Chris finds his car turned upside down in the field, Granny’s missing, and the phone lines are cut. Ricky breaks through the door to strangle Jerri, but Chris stabs him in the arm. Newbury steals Connely’s car and leaves Connely behind.
Ricky kills Chris just as Dr. Newbury arrives just in time to get stabbed as well. Jerri leaves the room and is killed, leaving only Laura and Ricky in the house.
Laura gets a psychic vision from Granny, who tells her to “use your power.” Chris comes in, not dead, and shoots Ricky with a shotgun, but that doesn’t stop him, so Ricky kills Chris again. Ricky leans over Laura and impales himself on a stick.
Lt. Connely arrives, and it’s all over. He drives Laura away to a safe place. A paramedic mentions that they might be able to get Ricky on life support…
Ricky gets around really well for a guy who can’t talk and walks around with a fishbowl bolted to his head. He looks like a good shake would do him in. Ricky doesn’t get in a single line, much less the ridiculous quips and one-liners from the earlier film.
Nightmare on Elm Street came out in 1984, and the influence here is obvious, especially in the hospital segment. Other than the very first kill, the hospital's Santa Claus, the film has given up on the connection to Christmas and become a much more mainstream slasher film.
It’s weak overall, but it shines in comparison to the previous film. The budget, sets, film, and everything else looked better than either of the other two. It’s clear they were trying to go for a more mainstream look here, and it mostly worked. I’m not quite sure why they decided to continue the Silent Night Deadly Night series in this way rather than take the same script and simply start a new franchise; there’s really very little here connecting this story with what came before.
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