Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (1987)

Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2

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Many years after Billy’s death on that fateful Christmas Day, Billy’s younger brother Ricky, now a grown man, sits alone in an empty white room with nothing more than a table, a recorder and two chairs. There he explains to a near stone-faced Dr. Bloom the trauma he and his brother Billy suffered as children, Billy’s continued abuse at the orphanage, how his older brother became a murder and his perfectly logical reasons for doing so, and the series of events in his youth that triggered Ricky’s very own murder spree.

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Goodness those boys are strong. They must have religiously been eating their Wheaties every morning.

Oh, it is never a good sign when you’re only on the first sequel and you’re already relying on stock footage from the first film to tell the bulk of your story. Though, I guess when your first film is prematurely yoinked from theaters after only two weeks, maybe it makes sense as a way to try to keep everybody up to speed on a plot they very likely could have easily missed. At least that’s how it would work in fantasy land. In reality, Tristar just wanted the filmmakers to re-cut the first film and splice it with scenes with Ricky from an insane asylum to turn the first film into some sort of psychotic dream and to recoup some costs from the dismal performance the first film suffered thanks to all the controversy surrounding it. In short, they wanted to make a sequel as cheaply as possible. Instead, the filmmakers in charge wanted to build a new plot around their movie. Which is what they did… Also as cheaply as possible, because they had a dismal budget and didn’t have the funds to create an entirely new story. The result is a very slapdash attempt as a slasher that was thrown together so quickly (it was shot in only ten days) that it somehow turned into a ridiculously entertaining dark comedy.

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The bulk of the first half of the movie, and really close to 40% of the film’s total runtime, is taken up by little more than re-cap footage of the first film. And while the film does speed through everything, these aren’t just quick, little clips, either. We’re talking a good 30+ minutes of footage and full on scenes from the ENTIRETY of the first film, beginning to end. It covers every abuse and every death, only cutting out the miscellaneous bits and all the gory details that you would have seen in the uncut version. But it still clearly lays out the whole plot, while Ricky dictates all the missing pieces. It’s so thorough that if you hadn’t seen the first film already you could easily skip it entirely and just watch this instead without missing a beat. On the other hand, if you’re like me and just watched the first film, then you’re going to sit there watching this and be bored out of your skull until Ricky gets off his butt and gets to the killin’. Cause lord knows that boy doesn’t really start to be entertaining until after all the flashback scenes are done.

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His weird, bug-eyed stare will forever haunt me now.

It’s very clear from the start that this movie never really pinned down what it wanted Ricky to be. Is he supposed to be a vigilante, crazy, or just out for revenge? We don’t know, because the actor, director and writer couldn’t agree on his persona, so as a result, he’s kind of all over the damn place. The actor, Eric Freeman, wanted to portray Ricky as a cold-blooded murderer, while the director and writer wanted him to either be a wise-cracking psycho, or as over-the-top as possible. So Ricky ends up being all three, and he seemingly flip-flops between personalities at a whim. Meaning he’ll go from being completely serious, to dropping lame jokes, to suddenly laughing like a cartoon villain. It also doesn’t help that the dialogue is terrible, his delivery is fragging atrocious, and that Freeman appears to think that 90% of all successful acting seems to rely solely on optimal lateral eyebrow movement (Someone went to the trouble of counting, and it turns out Ricky’s eyebrows move up and down a total of 130 times). It’s all just so, so bad…. But it’s also so horribly stupid and ridiculous that it somehow ends up being bizarrely and hilariously entertaining. I mean, in how many other slasher films does the killer hit a car with one well-aimed shot and cause it to flip and sporadically explode, all while laughing like an idiot? I can think of none.

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Then again, is that a Pinto? Weren’t they always one butt tap away from chaos anyway?

Once the film finally finishes its stroll down memory lane it turns into a serviceable, but still highly stupid slasher. Which works, surprisingly, since Ricky is already as ridiculous as he can be, so it makes sense for the rest of the movie to go all out too. That’s fine, and makes it more fun to watch. I don’t care. MY biggest problem with the movie isn’t the ridiculous acting or the stupid plot, it’s the number of factual errors that the movie has that are meant to tie it to the first film. I guess during all that flashback splicing either no one bothered to actually pay attention to what they were watching, or they took a page from Charles Band’s playbook of “Why You Shouldn’t Give A Shit About Continuity”, because they screwed up and made a bunch of small goofs that probably wouldn’t bother a lot of people, but particularly bothered me, since I just watched the first one a couple days earlier. Names get changed, identities get switched, and the entire timeline gets all out of whack. Ricky’s last name is inexplicably changed from Chapman to Caldwell. He erroneously identifies the person who got Billy his first job, and the Santa that got shot in his place. And at some point he says he was adopted at the age of 12, when the orphanage was closed after his brother’s death. But that would be impossible, since the first film began in 1971, and ended in 1984. Since he was just a baby in the first scene, even if he had been born the day before his parents murder, at the very least he would have had to have been 13 when the orphanage closed. So either Ricky is a really unreliable narrator, or one of the four writers in charge of that scene has issues with basic math… Or paying attention.

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Could you please focus, my dude. You’re supposed to be a professional.

So this movie ends up being completely absurd, but I gotta admit, even with the continuity issues, the plodding and redundant beginning, I kinda like it more than the first film. Billy may have been a more engaging and sympathetic character, but Ricky… Hell, he’s entertaining. He’s crazy and over-the-top in all the best of ways, and it also doesn’t hurt that most of the deaths he causes are equally as comical as he is himself. So there’s some stupid fun to be had here if you’re a fan of such things. It may not be a good movie (it’s really, really not), but by god, I must acknowledge that it’s an amusing one.

Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 is available on a variety of streaming services.

Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 is also available on DVD and Bluray.

Here are some helpful links:

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Michi

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