How shameless is Silent Night Deadly Night Part 2? Well, if you missed the original Silent Night Deadly Night, not to worry. Number two gets you right up to speed.
In its first 40 minutes.
That’s right. Nearly half of its 88-minute running time is devoted to completely rehashing the earlier film. It unapologetically recycles half of the footage from its predecessor.
It’s fairly obvious why. Part 2 doesn’t have nearly enough material to justify being a feature. In fact, it’s one of the silliest horror sequels I’ve ever seen.
At the end of the first film, poor, tormented Billy, the kid who saw his parents murdered by a thief in a Santa costume, comes very close to getting revenge against the sadistic nun who put horrible ideas in his impressionable head about punishing the naughty at an orphange she ran.
His little brother, Ricky, who was just a screaming baby when they suddenly became orphans, witnesses his final moments and inevitably follows in his slasher footsteps.
As Part 2 begins, we catch up with him again as an impatient, chain-smoking adult in a mental institution as he’s about to be interviewed by his 13th psychiatrist, a mild-mannered widow who has no idea what he’s in for once he hits record on the reel-to-reel machine.
Eric Freeman, who plays the demented Ricky, overacts constantly with his eyebrows. His glare is not even close to being intimidating. Sometimes, he turns his head slowly and robotically like The Terminator. His line readings are routinely forced. After he needlessly recaps his brother’s story in full, he delves into his own troubled history.
Adopted by a Jewish couple who gave him a good life, like Billy, he had traumatic flashbacks as a child. Two nuns walking down the street freaked him out. Seeing red fabric brought up more bad memories about Santa.
After his stepfather died, he started going for long walks in the woods. In one flashback, he spots a drunken man attempting to rape his girlfriend. (A blatant rip-off of a similiar scene in the first film.) Once she successfully fights him off, he retreats to his truck to get another beer. By the time he discovers Ricky in the driver’s seat, it’s too late. The aftermath leads to an unintentional laugh, one of many.
When he turned 18, Ricky became a busboy at a restaurant. We see him throwing out trash one night as he overhears an argument between two men. One is owed money and a beating is in progress. When it ends, Ricky prevents the thug from leaving and after no-selling a few punches Terminator-style, he stabs the man with an umbrella. And yes, it opens up.
Then we find out about his girlfriend, a cute blond he met after she literally bumped into his motorbike with her car. (There’s a genuinely funny scene when they go to the movies (a clip from Silent Night Deadly Night is shown in full screen, for some reason) and are bothered by some loudmouth in the back row.) He lost his virginity to her but when he found out about her obnoxious, overbearing ex, well, he became a fan of “slut” shaming.
And that’s when Freeman’s already laughable performance devolves into full-on camp. It’s hard to tell if he gave up trying to be scary. After he escapes the mental institution to track down the evil Mother Superior (sadly played by a different actress who isn’t nearly as effective), now retired with strange bumps on the side of her face (does this happen to stroke victims?), Ricky starts channelling Jack Nicholson from The Shining. Badly.
At no time is any of this scary. How can it be? It’s so over-the-top you can’t take it seriously. (That electrocution special effect is particularly noticeable.) I mean right from the very begininng there’s a big credibility problem. During Ricky’s interview, he’s not in a strait jacket or handcuffs. He’s not shackled at all. He’s free to roam around the entire time.
Um, guys? He’s killed half a dozen people! Doesn’t that make him dangerous? Shunning good judgment and common sense, the dumb shrink (it turns out 13 isn’t his lucky number) shoos away an orderly who rightly eyes the occasionally smiling Ricky with suspicion.
Can you believe they made 3 more sequels? Thank God none of them played in theatres so I don’t have to see them.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, August 24, 2016