Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (1987): Horror? More like Hilarity
It’s now the holiday season and Christmas songs now dominate the radio in a time known for being full of kindness of the human spirit. So with that said, let’s start the month’s first Bad Film Friday by looking at something that isn’t that, more specifically about a murderous Santa Claus. No, I’m not talking about Violent Night starring David Harbour (yet), I’m talking about Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2, which is an infamous film for not only being garbage, but unintentionally funny rather than outright being scary.
After the first film, where a young man with mental issues dressed as Santa Claus killed people before eventually being killed himself, Ricky Chapman (played by Eric Freeman), the brother of the killer, is now in a mental institution after his own episode occurred. Ricky tells his story to the psychiatrist about how he ended up there. After his story, Ricky kills his psychiatrist and escapes from the mental institution to exact revenge on the nun who raised and abused both he and his brother from the first film: Mother Superior.
Let’s first address the elephant in the room: why are we reviewing a sequel over the original? Well, that’s because the first 40 minutes of this film is literally recycled footage from the first film. And the funny thing is that these 40 minutes are treated as an extended flashback which does a really poor and unnecessarily long job summarizing the first film! I should also add that the whole film is only 88 minutes long, meaning that half the film is just footage from the first film. This concept really had no way of actually working in any sense of the word. The makers of the film were told to re-edit the first film and pass it off as a sequel or re-release with the director insisting that new footage be shot, despite not having the budget for a full sequel. Honestly they should have stuck to a re-release.
But besides re-using a good chunk of footage from the first film, Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 is perhaps one of the most comical horror films I’ve ever seen, and I mean that in the worst way possible. During the scene where Ricky snaps and kills his girlfriend’s creepy ex-boyfriend and later his girlfriend, he begins a killing spree. One person he killed was simply taking out his trash, which gave birth to the now infamously hilarious “garbage day” scene. But besides that scene, I want to talk about Eric Foreman’s acting. While yes, it’s certainly bad, I think there’s a reason to why he uses his eyebrows so much. I think his “eyebrow acting” was likely the result of a theater background, since in theater you have to often exaggerate not only your facial expressions, but also your vocal intonations when reading your lines. Despite his theatrical training, it doesn’t make the film any better. In fact, it made Ricky as a protagonist far too comical to be taken seriously.
Speaking of the unintentionally comical nature of the film, a better question to ask is what kind of tone was director Harry Lee going with? Because if he was trying to make the film scary in any form, he failed miserably. Was it supposed to be a tragedy, because it isn’t that good of one. And if he were trying to make it a comedic horror film, my question is why? The tone of the first film was played straight so if anyone liked the first film they will be disappointed. While horror comedies exist, even in long-running franchises, they still have actual horror elements and are funny because they have good writing, for example, Shaun of the Dead. Here though, the film isn’t scary and doesn’t have any wit that a comedy needs. It’s not a mockumentary aimed to poke fun at a murderous psychopath, it’s trying to present itself as an actual horror film.
Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 was made on a budget of $250,000. I’m actually not surprised by this, since the production looks cheap as hell. Not only does the film have this sterile quality to it, as if it were made in a lab, but it also has no character. Also, aside from having to re-use footage from the first film, they couldn’t even get all of their actors back for the sequel. With all of these troubles, a better question is why did they decide to even make a sequel? It’s not like the first film made a huge profit. The idea for a sequel wasn’t a studio mandate, it was basically made because the director wanted to, so it didn’t need to be made in the first place. Hell, Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 made back only $154,323 at the box office yet for some reason spawned three more sequels (which may not even have any connection with the first two films)! What kind of a world do we live in where Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 get sequels, but 2012’s Dredd doesn’t?!
Was there a way to save this film? Perhaps. But the abysmal result is what we get with a low budget, stock footage returning cast and a tone that exchanges all horror for unintended comedy. While Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 is not the worst film I’ve seen, it’s still one of the worst sequels ever made, as if it could’ve improved the first one. But despite its failure, the idea of Santa Claus dealing vigilante justice (sort of) is still apparently popular, as a film with a similar premise, Violent Night, is just on the horizon. No matter how bad it could be, it’ll never be as bad as Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2. So this holiday season, gather around the Christmas tree with your family and join in on the festivities! Just make sure that no murderous Santa shows up at your doorstep looking for punishment.
Co-Written By: Owen Gonzalez