Color, 1987, 88 mins. 21 secs.
Directed by Lee Harry
Starring Eric Freeman, James Newman, Elizabeth Kaitan, Jean Miller, Darrel Guilbeau
Scream Factory (Blu-ray) (US RA HD), Anchor Bay (DVD) (US R1 NTSC), Umbrella (DVD) (Australia R4 PAL) / WS (1.85:1) (16:9)

One Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2of the Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2more infamous sequels in horror history, this outrageous and often baffling slasher saga seemed like a sure thing after the controversy stirred up by 1984's killer Santa outrage, Silent Night, Deadly Night. So volatile that its own studio, Tristar, ended up dumping the film back on the indie circuit, the film became a big hit on VHS and seemed poised to generate a horror franchise. That did come to pass, sort of, with a total of five films bearing the Silent Night, Deadly Night name, though only this second film really has any connection to the original. Actually, "connection" is putting it mildly given that a third of the film is comprised of a reel of highlights from the first film, albeit with none of the unrated gory highlights in place. That shameless gambit earned this one a sorry reputation when it first appeared, but gradually people came to recognize that the other hour is wildly entertaining and completely insane with a staggering lead performance by Eric Freeman that's unlike anything else in film history.

While confined under observation, Ricky (Freeman) is questioned by Dr. Bloom (Newman) about recent events that led up to a murderous rampage. Via flashbacks we learn that infant Ricky somehow became twisted by witnessing the first murderous antics of his older brother, Billy, whose serial killer tendencies were triggered by a sadistic Mother Superior. Ricky also has firsthand knowledge of each of Billy's crimes, and now we learn that Ricky's own path has veered into homicide directed at date rapists, loan sharks, boorish movie theater patrons, and jerky guys who dated his girlfriend. As it turns out, seeing nuns or the color red is enough to send Ricky off the deep end on a mission to "PUNISH!" anyone Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2who's asking for it, with one person in particular earning the wrath of his end game.Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2

Claims that this was made for a paltry $250,000 would explain the threadbare feel of this production, which cuts some other obvious corners in addition to the ridiculous padding of preexisting footage. Nowhere is this more evident than a surreal and highly memorable movie theater sequence, obviously shot in a small private company screening room, where Ricky's date with Jennifer (Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood's Kaitan) plays out like a particularly dark Saturday Night Live sketch. The Christmas element feels more like an afterthought with Ricky's legendary, gun-toting neighborhood stroll (including a car conflagration and the immortal "Garbage day!" kill) taking place in what looks like the middle of summer. He does eventually don a Santa outfit just in time for the grand finale, so if you're thinking of programming this into your holiday viewing, it does pay off eventually. Of course, the real reason this has endured is Freeman, who turned up in David DeCoteau's Murder Weapon soon after this. Wild-eyed and spouting one liners, he catapults the film into wildly different territory from its predecessor and makes all of his scenes a scenery-chomping joy to behold.

Since it bore none of the major personnel from the prior film, this one was a bit of a head scratcher until Anchor Bay released a double feature DVD containing this film and its predecessor. An audio commentary with Newman, director and co-writer Lee Harry, and co-writer Joseph H. Earle shed some light on the story behind it including the quick turnaround (it was written in a weekend, which isn't too shocking), the integration of the original Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2footage, and issues with producer Lawrence Applebaum, as well as milking every penny of the budget was what it was worth. And yes, the humor was most definitely intentional. The theatrical trailer was also included. Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2

Of course, Freeman's disappearance from the public eye for many years made him difficult to locate when the DVD was being made, but thankfully he did turn up in time for a greatly expanded solo special edition on Blu-ray from Scream Factory in 2018. In addition to the original commentary, the disc adds a welcome new track with Freeman, Harry, and Newman, hosted by Justin Beahm. Due to the nature of the film itself the tone is pretty straightforward and focused on production details with a lot of chat about the casting process and reiteration of some narrative from the earlier track; as the film escalates in entertainment value, so does the track. Stories about shooting the love scene, blonding up one character's hair, the reason for the weird editing during the cop shooting, and the mechanics of that insane exploding car gag. In addition to the trailer, the disc also comes with a wealth of new video extras overseen by Beahm. "Slay Bells Ring Again: The Story of Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2" (74m39s) takes an extensive look at the film's creation via interviews with Freeman, Harry, Newman, Kaitan (yes!), Darrell Guibeau (young Ricky), "rent-a-cop" Kenny McCable, and makeup effects artist Christopher Biggs. Pretty much anything you'd want to know gets covered here with lots of discussion about the "intense" audition process, the mounting of the production in L.A., the location scouting, the storyboarding process, the use of vodka shots as an acting tool, and more. In the new meta short film "Ricky Today" (7m55s), Freeman recreates his Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2most famous role as a two-camera prison interrogation by a doctor who's just shown him the feature film, with the obligatory little twist at the end. The fun "Garbage Days Are Here Again" (19m30s) with Robert Patterson covers the shooting locations in California (versus the Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2snowier Utah of the original film) including various spots around Sierra Madre, with Freeman himself popping up to share his own account of the umbrella, battery charger, and garbage day kills exactly where they were shot. Finally, "I Don't Sleep" (62m19s) is a very, very in-depth look at BIggs' career with tons of photos and stories charting the evolution of his work from an early production of The Wizard of Oz through his professional start with Roger Corman and his gig as the "lion guy" in Scalps thanks to a mask he had handy. On top of that you get tales about Ghoulies (and the crew not getting paid), Mausoleum, Critters, theme parks, and plenty more. If you're a make-up effects junkie, this is all priceless stuff. The transfer itself is cited as a new 2K scan of an "archival theatrical print," obviously kept in solid shape over the years. Anyone familiar with the series knows the first two films haven't been cared for as lovingly as they should have, but the results here look solid enough and fix a big problem with the DVD, namely its complete lack of day for night timing. The DVD looks extremely bright throughout even for scenes taking place either late at night or in supposed darkness (e.g., the movie theater scene), which was nonsensical at the time but is fully corrected here. (Check out the frame grab comparisons below for a few examples.) Since this is from a print, detail isn't as sharp as it would have been from a higher source and it can tend to clog up in darker areas, but it's still leagues better than what we've had before. The DTS-HD MA English mono audio track (with optional English subtitles) is perfectly fine for what has always been a very basic, thin sound mix. Direct orders from Scream Factory can also get a rolled poster of the cover art design or, if you really go all out, a deluxe limited edition with a Ricky action figure to confuse all your relatives every holiday season.

Reviewed on December 9, 2018.


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