Grindhouse Review: 'Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2'
“Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2” (1987)
Directed By Lee Harry
Starring Eric Freeman, James Newman, Elizabeth Kaitan, Jean Miller, Darrel Guilbeau and Brian Michael Henley
From writer, director and editor Lee Harry comes the next installment to the cult slasher franchise, “Silent Night, Deadly Night” with part two. Shot on a budget of just under $300,000 and somewhat incorporating new material based on the original film’s storyline, the film picks up years after the death of Billy Caldwell (Robert Brian Wilson) who was the poor helpless soul who snapped after witnessing his parents being brutally murdered by a violent criminal in a Santa suit.
At the end of the first picture, Billy is shot several times, bringing an end to his blood rage madness. Just before the end credits roll, the camera pans up to Billy’s younger brother, Ricky, who chillingly gazes at Mother Superior (Lilyan Chauvin) and says “Naughty,” giving a blatant clue that the torch has been passed.
Fast-forward to Christmas Eve a decade later; Ricky (Freeman) is now a full-grown adult locked away in an institution where he’s waiting for a possible parole to get out and start a new life. However, before he can be released, he has to convince a psychiatrist (Newman) that he’s cured of his madness before he can be free once again.
“Let’s start from the beginning,” the psychiatrist announces. Ricky pulls up a chair, lights a cigarette and begins to tell the whole story of himself and his now-deceased brother.
First of all, I’m going to be brutally honest—this film is so horrible it makes Ed Wood’s films look like a professional studio actually took a risk with an upcoming director that actually knew what the hell they were doing. For 88 minutes, I witnessed this abomination to cinema with some minor hopes that it was going to at least be decent enough to get an average rating, but after the 45 minutes of flashbacks from the original film that slowly and painfully lead into its sequel, along with Freeman’s over-exaggerated performance, the whole idea of this being a continuation to the story falls flat on its face and explodes like a piece of low-carb bread in a toaster.
Most of the time, when it comes to grindhouse, exploitation or horror films, I’m very adjustable in terms of formalities; a cool effect, a touching moment, a unique shot, an interesting editing transformation or anything that catches my eye. If something excites or moves me about a film, I try to excuse its major flaws so I can focus on its strengths rather than its weakness.
But here, besides the editing that was somewhat effective in this pathetic attempt of a feature, the effects, the acting, the script, the direction, some of the camera work and pretty much the entire idea were a waste of time and money that could have been put into something that had depth and talent. It was almost like the producers and the production team felt they had a fresh idea that was only enough for a semi-completed, 25-minute short film, but had to find another film to fill the full feature running time to make it an actual feature. The new material mixed in with footage from the first film was constructed and acted with less talent than a grade school play.
The movie is merely an attempt to capitalize on gore, nudity and controversy. Good job guys. I’m going to give you an A, if that A stands for “atrocious.”
However, I did find one scene in particular so horrendous that I still can’t decide if I think it’s so bad that it’s good, or it’s so bad that it needs to be shot, urinated on and buried upside down with an inverted cross sticking out of its grave so the Prince of Darkness himself can banish this embarrassment to everlasting fire.
When Ricky eventually snaps, he then goes on one of the most hilarious shooting sprees in cinema history as he blows away innocent bystanders while cackling.
What makes this scene memorable, other than the lame one-liners that make Freeman’s face look like he’s about to pass a kidney stone, is the performance of his eyebrows. I kid you not—if you even dare to watch this film, watch Freeman’s eyebrows. They totally steal the scene in every frame as he tries to portray the frightening antagonist. You could play a drinking game and take a shot every time they flare like Clint Eastwood’s nostrils.
As such, if you haven’t seen the original, see it, because it’s a lot more emotionally moving than this so called “horror film.” If you go into this movie wanting to watch a badly made gore-fest, you’ll be disappointed. After witnessing this appalling piece of you-know-what, I’m not even going to attempt to watch the third, fourth and fifth. This is one franchise that should have beenstopped at one, much like the “Saw” films or even “Friday the 13th.”
Zero Out of Four stars