Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 DVD Review
Written by ZigZag
DVD released by Anchor Bay
Written and directed by Lee Harry
1987, Region 1 (NTSC), 88 minutes, Rated R
DVD released on October 07th, 2003
Eric Freeman as Ricky Caldwell
James Newman as Dr. Henry Bloom
Elizabeth Kaitan as Jennifer
Jean Miller as Mother Superior
Once upon a time (1984), there was a movie called Silent Night, Deadly Night and to everyone’s surprise it was both controversial and lucrative. Three years later, the company that owned the video rights (L.I.V.E. Entertainment) hired director-editor Lee Harry and three other writers (Joseph Earle, Dennis Patterson and Lawrence Appelbaum) to pen a sequel using ample footage from the original film to pad the running time. Forty minutes of the first movie ends up in this installment and when that proves to not be enough, the entire closing credits of the original are tacked on at the end of this one!
Billy Caldwell went on a killing spree for Christmas and didn’t stop until the cops shot him dead in front of his little brother, Ricky. Several years later, little brother Ricky (Eric Freeman) went on a killing spree of his own and ended up in a mental hospital. He escapes and soon he is stalking the streets in his own Santa suit with his focus on the nun (Jean Miller) who caused so much unhappiness in his childhood.
Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 is guilty of a lot of things, but failure to entertain is not one of them. Much has been made of the extensive flashbacks that mark the first half of the picture, but as a nice counterpart, a second wave of flashbacks are presented for the next 20 minutes explaining why Ricky is now insane. The material is fresh, but the willingness to attack the basic elements of narrative structure is absolutely fascinating.
Ricky commits his first murder after witnessing a guy beating up his girlfriend to put her in the mood for some sweet lovin’. It turns out that the color red is a trigger for our favorite psychopath and this abusive asshole is driving a red jeep. Ricky kills the schmuck and the punching-bag thanks him for it. Later, he witnesses a merchant being roughed up and dispenses with some improvised justice involving the world’s handiest umbrella.
Elizabeth Kaitin (Friday the 13th Part VII) appears as Ricky’s girlfriend Jennifer. In an extremely surreal turn of events, they go on a date to the movies and watch… Silent Night, Deadly Night. Despite her choice of films, Jennifer is a girl that likes Ricky enough to have bland vanilla sex with him. Apparently she was a bit more fuckable in the back seat of a car with Chip (Kenneth Brian James), a notion that drives Ricky over the edge. He goes on a murderous rampage that ends with the deaths of several innocent bystanders and one of the most dangerous car stunts in low-budget cinema.
Ricky Caldwell is a character so complex that not just one actor can successfully portray him, as witnessed by the 6 actors credited with the role between these two films. The actor/age breakdown is as follows: From the archived footage of part one, we see Ricky age four (Max Broadhead), and at age 14 (Alex Buxton), not to mention the footage of the baby that witnessed his parents’ murders. New footage for Part 2 brings us Ricky at age 10 (Brian Michael Henley) and at age 15 (Darrel Guilbeau) before settling on the fantastic originality of Eric Freeman. The Ricky character would return a final time in Silent Night, Deadly Night 3, played by Bill Moseley.
Freeman does not get enough credit as an actor. His interpretation of the character is so compelling that it deserves repeat viewing. Many will point to his intense eyebrow acting or the questionable line readings and forced laughter, but the sensitivity he brings to the role is unmatched by anyone who spends half a feature recounting events that his character was either too young to recall or was not even present for in the first place.
Director Lee Harry is an opportunistic talent, who makes the most of a less than fantastic situation. Saddled with incorporating half a feature into your own material can be daunting or even leave an artist discouraged, but Harry makes it his own. Although he only directed one other feature (Street Soldiers), he has made a solid contribution to the B-movie world of terrible. Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 is worth checking out if for no other reason than to see how a train wreck can be polished into a minor car accident.
Video and Audio:
The film sports a solid 1:85 anamorphic transfer with strong colors and deep blacks and flesh tones are properly represented. The source material has never looked better, but there are still minor issues concerning print damage, especially in the material pulled for the 40-minutes of flashback sequences from Silent Night, Deadly Night.
Audio is presented in a glorious mono mix that is crisp and clear and free of any subliminal messaging.
Anchor Bay has stuffed this edition with actual special features that come as a pleasant surprise.
First up is a highly entertaining commentary track featuring director Lee Harry, writer James Earle and actor James Newman. The track is pretty solid and full of amazing information (i.e. the film was written in six hours and shot in ten days!) and maintains a pretty respectable pace until falling a bit short by the end. Particularly fun listening to their comments over the copious flashback material they did not create.
Next up are promotional materials ranging from a poster gallery to a collection of production stills and storyboards. The theatrical trailer is also provided.
Finally, the original screenplay is offered in a PDF format for your computer.
If ever a cult film deserved its reputation as a true underground favorite, it is Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2. The entire film is a treat that only gets better upon repeat viewing. When asked which is the best holiday of the year, many kids will answer either Halloween or Christmas. Personally, I will have to go with…Garbage Day!
Day three of "ZigZag's 12 Days of Christmas".
Day 2: To All a Good Night
Day 3: Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2
Day 4: Jaws: The Revenge
Day 5: Christmas Evil
Day 7: Santa Claws
Day 9: Elves
Day 10: Dead End
Day 11: Santa's Slay
Day 12: Black Christmas (1974)
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