The second Silent Night, Deadly Night film was actually supposed to be a mere re-cut of the first film, in an attempt to finesse a few more dollars from a film whose impending success was stopped cold by the public outcry. But, as is often the case with no-pressure sequels to underground cult horror hits (Critters 2: The Main Course, The Bride of Frankenstein), the filmmakers used the original’s legendary framework as a jumping-off point into far more interesting territory. Though the film opens with the promised re-cut of the original (staged as a flashback that lasts an astonishingly lugubrious 40 minutes), director/editor Lee Harry manages to both tighten up the original (and cleanse it of most of the unsavory rape-evisceration fantasies) and then make mischievous mincemeat of the first film’s sequel-inviting doormat finale. Part 2 finds young Billy’s brother Ricky following directly in his older sibling’s carnage-spreading footsteps. Harry and co-scripter Joseph H. Earle show little-to-no reverence for the original film, gleefully trashing or blowing out of proportion nearly everything they can think of. For evidence, look no further than their choice of leading man. Whereas Robert Brian Wilson’s Billy was a handsomely cut but hammy lead, Eric Freeman’s Ricky is a fucking muscle monster who takes overacting to eyebrow-lifting new levels. The original’s skeptical (to say the least) take on Catholic schooling is made excessively clear in the sequel when the gargoyle-like Mother Superior is now slathered in horrifying scar make-up and resides in apartment number 666. Though Part 2 isn’t much more dignified than its predecessor, at the very least its isolated pleasures have a culminating effect (climaxing with a truly disturbing gun rampage and the most insanely dangerous car stunt ever seen in a Z-grade film). But it won’t make you feel any better than the first film. Both share the same Achilles’ heel: all throughout the supposedly subversive Christmas image-destruction, the audience is being led to identify with and eventually cheer on the actions of their doomed protagonists. Naughty indeed.
Score:Cast: Eric Freeman, James L. Newman, Elizabeth Cayton, Jean Miller Director: Lee Harry Screenwriter: Joseph H. Earle, Lee Harry Distributor: Silent Night Releasing Corporation Running Time: 88 min Rating: R Year: 1987 Buy: Video