Tuesday, December 18, 2018

SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT PART 2 (1987) Blu-ray review

Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (1987) d. Lee Harry (USA)

Despite sequel fever running rampant throughout the 1980s, the genesis of SNDN2 is surprisingly unconventional. Seems that producer Lawrence Appelbaum approached editor Lee Harry with the assignment of simply re-cutting the footage from the original 1984 flick and attempting to re-issue it under a different title, one without the stigma of the notorious ad campaign that led to protests by concerned parents and scathing reviews from top critics like Siskel and Ebert. Somehow or other, Harry convinced Appelbaum that it might be worthwhile shooting new footage and employ the original footage as flashback material, serving as a kind of “greatest hits” montage, which is exactly what happened. With this knowledge in mind, it’s easier to appreciate the fact that the first 40 minutes (yes, OVER HALF THE ACTUAL RUNNING TIME, not counting the ultra-slow ending credits) are comprised of pre-existing material which you more than likely already watched this holiday season.

That said, the new footage is pretty doggone hilarious in its own right, often unintentionally so. In his first lead role, Eric Freeman is built like a Mack Truck and about as nuanced with his cackling, eyebrow-waggling, bicep-bulging performance that gives a new meaning to “over-the-top.” Playing the all-grown-up version of Ricky, the younger brother of our original Psycho Psanta, Freeman relates the siblings’ respective tales of woe to his latest psychiatrist (James Newman), first that of his brother Billy (cue the 1984 footage) followed by his own adoption from the orphanage and the revelation that he is also deeply traumatized, though triggered less by Santa and more by nuns… and the color red… and people having sex and… well, anything that serves to set him off his rocker for our viewing amusement.

Harry, who co-wrote the new material with Joseph Earle as well as serving as editor, isn’t really concerned with continuity or plausibility – he’s there to deliver the splatter that matters and boy does he ever. The “It’s Garbage Day!!!!” sequence (made infamous on YouTube) still manages to amuse within context, as well as the “Jumper Cables Make Eyes Go Blammo,” “Let’s Run This Guy Over with His Own Jeep,” “Boy, That Car Stunt Could Have Gone So Wrong,” and it all culminates in a showdown between our bonkers beefcake and the wheelchair-bound Mother Superior (Jean Miller, buried under scads of scar makeup to conceal the fact that she is not Lilyan Chauvin) who taught him the essence of naughtiness. It’s all very silly but enjoyably so if you’re in the right mood.

Shout! Factory knows how to treat fans of this guilty pleasure right, with a Collector’s Edition that includes two commentary tracks (including a new one hosted by Justin Beahm with Freeman, Newman, and Harry), and Beahm’s feature-length documentary, Slay Bells Ring Again: The Story of Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2, which brings together the cast and crew in a good-natured attempt to provide context for several of the strange artistic choices on display.

In addition to the main stars, we are treated to the talking heads of several of Ricky’s unfortunate victims, among them Elizabeth Kaitan, Darrel Guilbeau, Kenny McCabe, as well as the guy who did the damage, makeup effects artist R. Christopher Biggs (The Unnamable). Biggs is also given an hour to discuss his extensive career on “I Don’t Sleep,” ranging from his early days at the Roger Corman factory (Galaxy of Terror) to the big-budget studio world of Star Trek VI and Super Mario Bros.!

There are also the “Garbage Days Are Here Again” featurette, revisiting the shooting locations, and “Ricky Today,” a short film that sits back down with our favorite ’roid-and-revolver-loving fruitcake for a brief chat. An original theatrical trailer rounds out the goodies.

Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 is available now on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory and can be ordered HERE:



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