Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker
A young Derek Quinn witnesses his father being killed by a mysterious toy that was anonymously delivered to their house several days before Christmas. After the incident, Derek is so traumatized that he refuses to speak. To try to cheer her son up, Derek’s mom takes him on an outing to visit the local toy maker. The proprietor, Joe Petto, and his son, Pino, are eccentric, but seem friendly enough. But as Christmas draws closer, more strange, malignant presents keep popping up and causing harm. And though it takes a couple more days, the combination of all the fiendish toys, coupled with a strange man roaming around the neighborhood, finally forces Sarah Quinn to realize that something more nefarious than simple toy making may be going on at Petto’s Toy Shoppe.
An interesting thing about this fifth, and final (at least until the remake came out), installment of the Silent Night, Deadly Night franchise, is that it stars Mickey Rooney. Which is an interesting factoid all by itself, because Mickey really didn’t do horror, outside of maybe one or two small roles in earlier films and an episode of The Twilight Zone. But what really makes his involvement in this film noteworthy is that back in 1984 when the first Silent Night, Deadly Night film came out, Rooney, like many others, took great umbrage with the content, particularly the ‘desecration’ of Santa Clause, and was one of the film’s most prominent vocal detractors. He’s quoted as saying:
“How dare they! I’m all for the first amendment but… don’t give me Santa Claus with a gun going to kill someone. The scum who made that movie should be run out of town.”
And yet here he is in the series fifth installment, walking around wearing a Santa suit and causing mischief. Granted, he doesn’t actually kill anyone while in the suit (technically), but he does kidnap a small child (which really isn’t that much better), so I guess his Santa desecration outrage had a limit. Or more likely the man just had bills to pay and money talks. Personally though, I like to think that he had no idea about the title of the film he was making, and instead he took the role thinking he was making some film called “The Toy Maker”, only realizing his error after-the-fact, when some executive in charge of linking the film to an existing property decided to inflict some cruel irony on his ass. But I’m petty like that. I mean, either way he took the job knowing full well that he was going to be causing death while wearing a Santa outfit, gun or no gun, so I feel no pity for him.
You brought this scorn on yourself, Mickey.
But perhaps the sting of his hypocrisy isn’t quite so heavy upon his restless spirit, knowing that despite his sanctimonious stuffiness, he did at least manage to pick one of the better sequels in this uneven series to star in. Thanks in part to Brian Yuzna’s continuing involvement as both co-writer and producer, the film continues to have an off-beat brand of humor and a solid story, which is more than can be said for that dribbling third film in the series (not that outdoing that movie was ever a high bar to overcome.) There still may not be a murdering Santa this time around, but at least the film IS squarely centered around Christmas this time, and watching all the toys come alive to cause mayhem and murder is highly entertaining, with the suffering they inflict upon the babysitter and her boyfriend, in particular, being gruesomely delightful (and just like the last film, all the effects were done by Screaming Mad George, who also worked on The Predator, Nightmare on Elm Street 4 and The Guyver, so you know they’re good). It’s just a bummer that all those fun scenes end up being broken up with a bunch of boring scenes in between. Especially when some of them end up being “red herrings” with nothing to do with the overall plot other than to be annoying distractions. Silent Night, Deadly Night 4 had a tendency to do that too sometimes, but in this film that problem seems to be much more pronounced, and at least Silent Night, Deadly Night 4 had the benefit of being filled with so much weird imagery that even the useless parts tended to at least still be engaging. I mean, they were often disgusting and confusing, sure, but at least you can’t claim that it’s boring.
Unlike this guy.
The overall acting is decent, but not as good as the last film. Rooney is Rooney, meaning he chews more scenery than he knows what to do with. Brian Bremer ends up being a bit more believable as Pino because he doesn’t go to quite the same extremes. William Thorne as Derek is tolerable, but only because 99% of his part is completely non-verbal and relegated to “WTF” and “Shit, not this again” facial expressions. Tracy Fraim as the creepy stalker guy is okay, but he’s trying too hard to do… Whatever the heck it is he’s trying to do, and mostly comes across as unintentionally awkward. Overall, I think Jane Higginson as the mom fares the best of the group, but her character makes so many dumb decisions later on that it’s kinda hard to feel too sympathetic for her. She gets nookie twice in this film, and each time she does someone ends up dying in her friggin’ house. Not that I begrudge her a good boink (I don’t, good for her), but dang if her timing ain’t poor as all hell.
Oh, if only someone was here to help this poor lad, instead of being across town getting porked in a Jeep.
In a very curious addition to the cast, three former actors from Silent Night, Deadly Night 4, Clint Howard, Neith Hunter and Conan Yuzna, all make a return appearance for this movie. I’ve read contradictory accounts, with some claiming that they’re just cameos, and that they’re not actually playing the same characters from the previous film, but I find that claim a bit suspect. You’re telling me that three actors from the last film came back to play roles in this film, in fairly minor roles I might add, and they just happen to have the same personalities and names as their previous characters? Yeah, nah, I ain’t buying that. Dollars to donuts Yuzna gave Hunter and Howard a call and asked if they wanted some small part in the sequel, and he just dragged his son to the set and gave him some lines. Yuzna had a hand in writing the script, after all, so you know their inclusion was planned and not just incidental. Granted, they all have very minor roles, what with Howard only being in one short scene, and Conan getting two, but Hunter at least had a recurring supportive role as one of Sarah’s friends and made a reference to the events of the last film, so I’m sure she was glad to be there. Especially since she got to keep all her clothes on this time and didn’t spend half the movie covered in some sort of slimy goop.
“You would not believe the things that I’ve been through.”
…. Though now that I think about it, their inclusion does bring up some disturbing questions. Like, what the hell happened to the creepy coven? Are they still operating out of the bookstore? Are they just still out there, forcing new membership against people’s wills? Why is Lonnie living with Kim? Did he have nowhere else to go after **SPOILER** Ricky killed his whole family? **SPOILER** And speaking of that lunatic, shouldn’t that fool be in jail? How the hell did the mass murderer get a job as a Mall Santa? Alas, I have so many questions now, and suddenly none of them are related to the plot of the actual film.
Wait, weren’t you eaten by giant worms at the end of the last movie?
Despite being a markable improvements from some of its predecessors, Silent Night, Deadly Night 5 is still not a great film. The script has issues, the characters are kinda dumb, some of the acting is wooden (heh, heh, heh), and the pacing really needed to be tighter. But it has an interesting story, excellent effects, a decent twist ending, and some really fun parts involving the deadly toys, which is probably reason alone for horror fans to give it at least one viewing. So yeah, it’s not necessarily good, and the series didn’t go out with a bang like it should have, but for the most part it’s still a pretty fun outing.
Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker is available on a variety of streaming services.
Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker is also available on DVD.
2 thoughts on “Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker (1991)”
Yes! A+ work here on these! I’ve always thought these things were decent enough, I guess except the one I forgot somehow. Are you now prepared to defend yourself and those around you from any Santa Clause activities that want to harm you??
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Ha! Thank you! They’re pretty fun (if not a bit cinfusing). I think I’m now reasonably prepared to deal with any rogue Clauses I may run into. Though I might be SOL if any inanimate objects jump up and attack me. That could prove to be a bit more tricky to deal with.
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