Not in the Christmas spirit yet? Here’s a holiday movie that’s ho-ho-ho-rrible….
Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 (1987)
Director: Lee Harry
Stars: Eric Freeman, James L. Newman, Elizabeth Kaitan
Following the events of the first SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT, the killer’s little brother proceeds to… recap exactly what happened in the first SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT.
When someone recently suggested SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT 2 for Awfully Good, I was shocked to realize that we’d never featured it here. It’s a classic Christmas B-movie for many reasons. The obvious one—and why this film is so famous–is the fact that it gave rise to the legendary “Garbage Day” meme from the mid-2000s. Not to age myself, but I still remember interrupting my college roommate’s World of Warcraft game to force him to watch the hilarious, out-of-context scene of a homeowner taking his trash to the curb, only to be randomly shot by a terrible actor maniacally yelling, “Gar-bage day!” It doesn’t sound like much, but it really is a remarkable moment in cinema history.
No! Give it a few years and you’ll have a cult following!
Another thing that makes this movie so special is that it’s the only film I can think of that’s essentially a clip show. You know how sitcoms used to get lazy a few seasons in and had the characters reminisce about past events as an excuse for them to show footage from old episodes instead of having to write an entirely new one? That’s pretty much SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT 2 in a nutshell.
The first 40 minutes of this movie, which is barely 85 minutes long already, is nothing more than Ricky, the younger brother of the killer from the first film, retelling that story to his psychiatrist in a mental health facility. As he recaps everything, they actually show extended flashbacks to the original film. And not just highlights; they give you a Cliffs Notes version of the entire thing that shows the beginning, middle, and end, including every good kill. (So much recycled footage is used, the filmmakers actually had to run almost the full credits from the first movie during the end credits for this one.) And seeing as how Ricky, who really didn’t have much of a presence or make any sort of impact in the first film, is mostly telling stories about scenes where he either wasn’t there or was way too young to possibly remember, it’s an even more astounding choice.
Man, even the production company was lazy.
Why would anyone possibly do this? The story goes that the producers wanted to replicate the success of the first film with minimal effort, so they hired editor Lee Harry to direct (i.e. re-cut) SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT with a small wraparound story and repackage it as a sequel. It’s a cash-grab so lazy and so brazen, that it’s almost impressive. To their credit, Harry and his fellow screenwriters realized this was a terrible idea and tried to pad out the bookend scenes as much as they could to not completely rip off viewers. Most of the last half hour or so still follows the same flashback formula, but at least shows new footage of Ricky…being Ricky.
Unfortunately with limited resources and almost no budget, the “new” elements of the film never really had any chance at being good. Since we last saw him, Ricky was adopted by a Jewish family who doesn’t celebrate Christmas. He had what seems like a relatively normal, supportive upbringing, but still ends up a murderous psychopath after a relationship gone wrong. This leads to what still feels like a carbon copy of scenes from the first movie, except Ricky yells “Punish!” before killing his victims instead of “Naughty!” I get it’s supposed to show the cycle of trauma that causes Ricky to follow in his brother’s footsteps, but after watching a 40-minute “Previously on…,” seeing pretty much the exact same story play out again—including even more flashbacks to show just how similar the scenes are—is still disappointing.
It also doesn’t help that the writing is just very, very bad. Almost to the point that it feels purposeful. I don’t know how else you end up with a supposedly menacing line like, “It sounded like a squirrel getting his nuts squeezed!”
Daryl Jenkins: Electric Slide Champion, 1987.
If all you’re looking for in your holiday horror movie is fun kills, you might not be as disappointed. In addition to all the gory deaths from the first movie, you get a guy turned in to roadkill, a man who gets stabbed by an umbrella (which bloodily opens after it’s passed through his body), someone explosively electrocuted with a car battery, and a loud movie talker karmically getting his comeuppance. And then there’s of course Ricky’s famous neighborhood rampage, where he steals a security officer’s gun and walks down a suburban street just cackling like an idiot and shooting random people, including the poor schmuck who was simply removing the refuse from his domicile.
And if you’re wondering where the Christmas is in all of this, the murders finally get festive in the last ten minutes when Ricky breaks out of the asylum, murders a Salvation Army Santa for his outfit, and then goes on to kill the nun who tormented him and his brother in the first movie. What follows is a rather pathetic sequence where the killer has an impossibly hard time murdering a 90-year old woman in a wheelchair while chasing her all over the house. But hey, at least he’s wearing a Santa suit!
Don’t judge. You don’t know what face you’d make if you were just impaled by an open umbrella.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t give at least some of the credit for this famously bad motion picture to the performance of Eric Freeman, who gives it his all and then some as Ricky. The filmmakers admitted they hired him over a more experienced performer due to his looks, which I understand—the man does give a good psycho stare. And in Freeman’s defense of his strange overacting performance, on a commentary he claims he was given confusing notes from multiple crew members, some of whom wanted him to play things campy and over the top, while others were looking for a serious and scary performance. I have no problem believing this as the movie’s bewildering tone comes across in spades.
(Can we also talk about the film’s bizarre and wildly confusing decision to cast a separate 24 year old actor to plays the 15 year old version of Ricky in a handful of flashbacks? Even though he looks older then Freeman’s present day Ricky, who is supposed to be 18?!)
What? Your significant other doesn’t give you a signed headshot to show how much they love you?
If you haven’t seen the first SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT– then you might as well just watch this “sequel.” It essentially shows you all the good parts of the original with a few bonus laughs along the way.
You get all the nudity from the first one AND a little bit extra. It’s a Christmas miracle!
Take a shot or drink every time:
- Someone says the words “naughty” or “punish”
- Ricky laughs maniacally
- Ricky kills someone
- Someone makes a “That’s what she said” joke
Double shot if:
- Someone takes out the trash
Thanks to JC, Jim, and Sophia for suggesting this week’s movie!
Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email and give him an excuse to drink.