Silent Night Deadly Night Part 2 (1987)
The younger sibling of the teenager who killed while dressed as Santa carries on in his brother's bloody footsteps.
VHS release pictured: 1987, IVE.
Starring: Eric Freeman, James Newman, Elizabeth Kaitan | Director: Lee Harry
Silent Night, Deadly Night 2: VHS of the Month Review
by Sam Rakestraw
Holy crap! The “garbage day” guy is shredded! It’s the end of the year and after two attempts, we finally have a legitimate sequel. Silent Night Deadly Night Part II is everything our past two “sequel” movies have been -the niche 80s slasher like Prom Night II and the production value and execution of Troll II. Because of that, it’s probably why everyone remembers this one the most out of all of them, and Ricky as the killer Santa during Christmastime more so than his older brother Billy from the first movie. Of course, one thing censors had in common in 1984 and 1987 is that they absolutely hated Silent Night Deadly Night Part 1 and 2. Part I was pulled from theaters and Part 2 was denied a British home video release. I can’t stress it enough, it’s the lowest budget movies that get censored the most. Either these filmmakers with next to nothing have the most realistic gore effects or someone is paying them off for the big guys. But enough being a conspiracy nut and let’s celebrate the most joyous time of the year with a glorious counterculture Christmas slasher that is now only memed on.
The original cast and crew from the first movie weren’t involved in the production of Part 2. In fact, director Lee Harry was just an editor in Burbank that had been tasked with re-editing the first into an entirely different movie that would be distributed as a sequel. Harry and Joseph Earle weren’t being paid a whole lot either. Despite this, they were able to put together a rag-tag group of actors and a film crew for some shoots to expand upon the edited footage. This was a total budget of $250,000. Had it been a larger one, they have said that they would’ve written their own plot with a whole new set of characters and setting. Instead of an entirely different movie, we have one that feels the same and for more than 30 minutes, is actually the same.
If you haven’t seen Silent Night Deadly Night, then that’s a-okay because Part 2 is two movies in one. Through over 30 minutes of footage from the first movie with nearly no edits, we’re told the story of Billy Chapman. Like all slasher stories, the inciting incident began with his family when they were attacked by a rogue Santa. His parents are killed in a dark Bruce Wayne-like moment and he and his baby brother Ricky are sent to an orphanage run by the strict Mother Superior. With punishment at the forefront of their upbringing, this only exacerbated things. Billy would slowly go insane over the years before donning a Santa Claus outfit and going on a bloody killing spree against anyone he deemed to be naughty. This is usually people who are, you guessed it, having sex. That’s another great thing Mother Superior taught him. The rampage ended when he was killed by police before he could get to Mother Superior. However, no one accounted for Ricky. This is all included in Part II told by Ricky (Eric Freeman), and that is where our story truly begins.
Eric Freeman should be a postman because his deliveries make everything humorous. I like to think that he was the spark to the fire of Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker. I truly mean that with how it opens in with Ricky in the all-white sanitarium with Dr. Bloom (James Newman) not only giving a recap of the first movie but also how he ended up there. There’s a lot of the first movie here -even kill scenes. It’s like watching an episode of Dead Meat. Ricky’s story began when Billy’s ended. Like Terry in Blood Rage, he grew up with a darkness within that was just waiting to be unleashed at the right moment. Ricky even had a love life going for him with the neighbor girl, Jennifer (Elizabeth Kaitan). Of course, her ex Chip (Ken Weichert) is the flame that lights the fuse and sets Ricky off as they’re his first kills along with a security officer. Then, with his gun in Ricky’s hands, thus begins the garbage day massacre, in what can be a very real but amusingly executed scene of indiscriminate shooting. Ricky is arrested and that leads up to now. And with all that exposition and we’re already at the halfway mark of the movie if not over it. At least people who haven’t seen the first one at all are treated to something.
With all that over, let’s see some of the new footage Harry and the crew shot. He was attempting a new movie after all. So, Ricky kills Dr. Bloom and escapes and dresses up like Santa like his brother from the last movie. Then, returns to the orphanage to kill Mother Superior…just like his brother from the last movie. It’s really hard to find the attempt to make it different here. The only difference is that Lilyan Chauvin isn’t Mother Superior, it’s Jean Miller with a scar prosthetic. We can all agree that Ricky was more entertaining with a gun than an ax, but at least we get to continue to enjoy his deliveries.
Despite a totally different production company, cast, and crew -Silent Night Deadly Night Part 2 absolutely does not come off as its own movie. It would be like saying Halloween II was standalone, and even John Carpenter was involved in that. Again, the best part is that you don’t have to watch the first and second one back-to-back with all the archival footage. Now, I watch Godzilla movies. I have a lot of patience for use of footage from previous movies used in newer ones. But the majority of people do not, and that was probably why Silent Night Deadly Night Part 2 grossed under $155,000 on a $250,000 budget with such a limited release. Whoever Lawrence Applebaum was, he gave Lee Harry and everyone involved little to no money for their work. It’s a sad case of a grubby producer who just wanted a quick result and sequel to market.
If you do want to talk about saving grace, it’s Eric Freeman as Ricky. There were two spikes of when people began watching Silent Night Deadly Night Part 2. The first was when it hit the video store. Tapeheads and slasher fans eagerly added it to their collection as was customary for every movie that largely went unseen in theaters. The second came about when “Garbage Day!” became a meme, and for a lot of people, that was their introduction to Silent Night Deadly Night as a whole. It was the same effect as “Oh my god!” from Troll II. It wasn’t just a garbage day. Everything Ricky says is quoted like Johnny from The Room. “Good point,” “punish,” and “bingo!” I’m telling you, it’s all in the cadence and the delivery that’s so funny.
We have another VHS release from International Video Library (IVE). You can see their full history on the Girlfriend From Hell review from earlier this year. But, long story short, they exist as Artisan Entertainment and are owned by Lions Gate as of today. Unlike that tape, Silent Night Deadly Night Part 2 doesn’t have any trailers on it. However, this was one of their earlier releases in 1987, three years before Girlfriend From Hell. It’s possible that they didn’t build their film library as big as it was so they couldn’t advertise future releases. Regardless, it was good to see that opening logo again.
Silent Deadly Night would get a direct-to-video conclusion to the killer Santa trilogy and move on with a new story by Re-Animator’s Brian Yuzna in Silent Night Deadly Night 4: Initiation. That one concerns a cult while the fifth one starred Mickey Rooney as a demented toymaker that made, you guessed it, killer toys for Christmas. Yuzna would produce that as well. There was a modern remake in 2012 with Malcolm McDowell as well. As with some of the films we looked at this year, the legacy is still alive. There’s no holiday to tarnish with horror like Christmas.
With every Merry Christmas, there is a Happy New Year. I was always excited to get to this point because it means I will have written about and watched every movie Jacky made awesome photo art out of and talk about things I’ve been passionate about since 6th grade. But I was also dreading it because all good things come to an end as they say. I’m damn happy to say that is not the case. There’s another year of curated photo art featuring tapes that need to be watched, celebrated, and talked about. In that regard, can’t wait to see what Rotty Rentals whips up for us next year!