Friday, December 14, 2012


I've been so busy trying to finish this end of the year movie wrap-up (which should be ready some time next week) that I didn't give myself enough time to do a Christmas movie entry. Luckily my good friend Doug Frye (one of the few people I know that truly understands this terrible masterpiece of a film) was available to write about the movie I had in mind - Silent Night, Deadly Night: Part 2.
If you haven't read his piece on The Punisher that was part of our Expendables Special back in august or tuned in to his Schlock Treatment Podcast at some point, you're doing yourself a disservice.


      -The Incredible Hulk 


      -Billy Caldwell 


      -Ricky Caldwell

Some monsters come alive with a single word, as if by magic. When not magical creatures, they must be surely gamma-irradiated—I assume this to be the case with Billy and Ricky, the Hulk-strong brothers starring in, respectively, Silent Night, Deadly Night and its sequel. In deference to whomever Mr. Pinn has tapped to review the original, I’ll stick to writing about Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 as best I can, though somewhere between forty-five and sixty percent of the sequel consists of scenes from the original film presented as flashbacks. In fact, nearly all of the film’s action takes place in flashback, as Ricky relates his story (and his older brother, Billy’s) to his court appointed psychologist. Ricky has apparently been placed in the most minimum-security facility they could find, without a single guard present. I think SN,DN2 might be a revolutionary film, in that only the black guy setting up the recording equipment for Ricky’s session survived the film, a feat he accomplishes this by not trusting the murderer not to murder him. He’s the closest thing resembling security, and he’s a tech. This becomes even more ridiculous as Ricky’s story unfolds. He relates his earliest experience, a carjacker in a Santa suit killing his parents while he was just a baby. These are actually his brother’s earliest memories, but it’s cheaper for the producers to just recycle these. Long flashback short, Billy endures a brutal upbringing by nuns that combines with his childhood trauma, resulting in him killing a lot of people and leaving a murderous legacy to Ricky.
A couple, the Rosenbergs (perfect because they’ll “have nothing to do with Christmas”), adopts young Ricky, though even after having never been informed of the multiple traumas that Ricky has lived through, they still can’t seem to handle him, like when the mother shushes him as he trembles at the presence of a murder of nuns (a pack of nuns is called a murder). I thought at the scene where the parents went to the nice Sister Mary, they might be giving him back to the orphanage, just to rub some salt in his wounded psyche, but no, they keep him until their deaths, in about ten years. So, to recap the events: no one has made the slightest attempt to help this kid process his trauma—the closest thing he’s had to therapy are regular sister-issued beatings and being called “naughty.” The latter plays a big part in his development.
Ricky’s big break as a murderer comes in a deserted field, where he happens upon a picnicking couple for some reason. There’s no explanation for why he’s walking out there so far from anything. Anything, that is, save the film’s third attempted rape scene in only forty-five minutes (two of which came from the original film, in case you needed its actual legacy). Only Ms. 45 can compete with that kind of efficiency. This provides Ricky the opportunity at a sympathetic killing, driving over a redneck would-be-rapist with his own red jeep. While I found this detail unimportant, Ricky’s therapist felt the need to write down and highlight RED CAR in his notes. Ricky follows this up with a second killing—a mob enforcer collecting a gambling debt in the alley behind Ricky’s workplace. This is truly Ricky’s finest example of his handiwork, as well as the place where his gamma-irradiated genes come alive. Though the goon outsizes him significantly, Ricky is able to lift him off his feet singlehandedly, freeing his other hand to fish an umbrella from the garbage, spear the guy through his belly, and still have the dexterity to open the now blood soaked umbrella. It puts the much more popular “Garbage Day!” to shame. It won’t be Ricky’s last feat of superhuman strength, but it remains his most impressive.
Now, Ricky has developed a taste for blood, but presumably also for defending the weak from their tormentors. The film should have stuck to this logic, developing Ricky as a kind of pre-Dexter antihero. Instead, he’s all over the place, killing indiscriminately, and his “Naughty” catchphrase loses any meaning by the time he reaches the shooting sequence that’s the reason you’ve heard of this movie. At the end of this rampage, he’s just blindly shooting anyone who crosses his path. There is no punishment being delivered, just a massacre being enacted without any sense of Ricky’s busted moral compass guiding him. It’s unintentionally hilarious, but also drags the movie down in its abandonment of Ricky’s logic. Oh, and Ricky finishes his therapy session by making good on the veiled threats against his counselor, something he should have taken more seriously than the paintjob on cars his patient confiscated, leading to said patient escaping to the sounds of “Oh God, he’s loose!” into the completely unguarded facility holding this dangerous, super-powered psychopath.

From here, the movie gets confusing, devolving into a standard “slasher-stalks-heroine” act, except that the heroine is an aged, burn-scarred Mother Superior, the same nun who tormented young Billy so much that he went insane. The scene goes through all the classic beats, except I don’t want this evil woman to survive—I’m rooting much more for the demented result of her child-rearing approach. The whole scene ends up about as you would expect, with cops gunning down the now Santa-suited Ricky and him proving to be still alive for the promise of a sequel.

Had star Eric Freeman been available and interested, I’d have been game for a sequel, too. His weird energy and mugging in lieu of offering true menace carried the film to the cult status that it currently enjoys (according to the producers in a DVD commentary track, Freeman has vanished without a trace). While I won’t pretend that this is good, intended to be, or stood a chance to be on its meager roots, Sn,Dn2 is far more entertaining than it has any right to be. Could “Garbage Day!” have been a written line, or is Freeman an ad-libbing genius? I’ll probably never know, but he made this film. Even better, I’d love a Punisher­-style part three featuring the return of both Ricky and Billy as twin murderous Santas, exacting punishment on all the naughty people at Christmastime, like two parents fighting over Cabbage Patch Dolls and Ticklish Elmos. Had they actually embraced the camp factor and dumped the slasher tropes, the Caldwell clan’s adventures could have continued for as long as Freddy Krueger managed to churn out sequels.
Well, they could have reached at least Leprechaunesque heights. Silent Night, Deadly Night in the Hood, anyone?


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