This has to be one of the worst holiday horror movie franchises in existence. It may also be the only holiday horror movie franchise, which makes it that much worse. Where is Black Christmas 2? Jack Frost 2? No one asked for Gingerdead Man and its many sequels but we got them anyway, and that’s really it.
The first film follows two brothers orphaned after a criminal in a Santa suit murders their parents. Years later, the eldest brother Billy now works at a toy store, and becomes unhinged when he is forced to fill in for the store’s Santa. There are quite a few Christmas-themed murders happening: aside from murders committed by “Santa”, there is also strangulation by Christmas lights and impalement by deer antlers. Of course the murders are sparked because Billy can’t handle people having sex, so the tagline “He knows when you’ve been naughty” is pretty accurate.
The second movie, creatively titled “Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2” is where we run into problems.
Basically, you could skip the first movie and just watch the second. The second movie contains a complete recap of the first movie, and is made up of at least 50% footage from the first movie. The movie is about Billy’s younger brother Ricky, who takes up the mantle of Killer Santa (after killing a Salvation Army bellringer for the costume). Ricky’s still upset about people being “naughty,” but also upset about the abuse he suffered as an orphan. His main goal is to kill Mother Superior, who is now in a wheelchair and puts up a good fight before he finally offs her.
The third movie still contains footage from the previous movies, but thankfully not as much. Part 3, or “Better Watch Out,” follows the experimentation of a blind psychic girl, who a doctor is trying to connect to the comatose mind of Ricky. Why? Who the hell knows. So Laura starts having visions of Santa killing people. And then, of course, Ricky is awakened by the drunk asshole playing Santa at the hospital and he begins his murder spree anew. This movie continues the tradition of laughable acting, but unfortunately, there weren’t very many Christmas-themed murders in this one.
“Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: The Initiation” finally drops the footage from the original movies! Instead of Ricky as the main murderer, we are treated to a feminist cult that worships Lilith and causes our protagonist, Kim, to see cockroaches everywhere and makes her fingers do a weird twisty thing, and later lets Ricky (now a homeless weirdo – or is this even the same Ricky??) rape her and impregnate her with some weird giant larvae. Aside from being set around Christmas time, the deaths and theme have little to do with Christmas. There’s a lit Christmas tree on the top of the building where our initial sacrifice spontaneously combusts, and where our finale takes place. A man is killed having fallen into said Christmas tree. There’s also a lovely scene where Kim hangs with her current bf’s family, who turn out to be pretty sexist and anti-Semitic. Given that the ending involves the defeat of the Lilith cult, I’m not sure what the takeaway is meant to be. Are we for or against feminism?
“Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker” proves that maybe the fifth in a franchise can be the best. It amazes me that the actors in this franchise have become more recognizable (Mickey Rooney, what are you doing here??). The Toy Maker starts out with a Christmas bang as a young boy listens to his parents having sex. Little Derek then discovers a gift clearly marked “do not open until Christmas.” After his father practically beats him down for opening it, Derek watches on as Dad opens the gift and is attacked by the Santa ball within. The toy attacks Dad’s face (is it kissing him? eating his face off?) and kills him. Derek’s mom isn’t much better and quickly loses patience with him after the brutal death, deciding that buying his happiness is the only way – Mom doesn’t seem too upset it. There’s a nod to SNDN4 with a larvae toy, and Ricky returns as a department store Santa. “You would not believe the things I’ve been through,” says Kim, who also returns, and doesn’t seem too freaked out by mysterious Christmas gifts that keep showing up for Derek. There’s a murderous Santa and a full-on assault by an army of toys (while the baby-sitter is having sex, naturally).
The finale of the last movie almost makes up for how terrible the first four movies. I mean, a robot/puppet named “Pino” created by “Joe Petto” who just wants to be a “real boy” with a real dick, and somehow figures he’ll make that happen by sex with his mommy? Didn’t see that one coming.