4 out of 5
Directed by: Lee Harry
No pun intended, I swears it, but Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 is one of the kings of trash cinema. Can you make a sequel to a flick for less than 1/7th of the original’s reported budget that’s better than that original, and even deserving of the claim of being a classic? If you’re director / co-writer Lee Harry and you’re working on the Silent Night, Deadly Night “franchise”… apparently the answer is: yes!
Not only does Harry somehow get away with repurposing SNDN footage for almost half of Part 2, he manages to improve upon it by cutting around some of its sleazier, rape-focused elements and also reframing it via “Ricky’s” retelling of things, which is amplified – for the better – to mustachioed villain extremes by a fantastically maniacally enthusiastic performance from Eric Freeman. SNDN (Part 1) isn’t a bad movie in the first place, it’s just kind of a strange one, with an interestingly sober approach for the majority of its runtime that butts up against the aforementioned sleaze and a somewhat unconvincingly-delivered one-liner from its Santa killer of “punish!” that makes its concluding descent into slasher kills less fun than it could be. (Freeman picks up the line, mind you, and makes wonderful mincemeat out of it.) So Part 2 has its fun by picking up the younger brother thread from the preceding flick’s conclusion and then essentially remaking the first film – Ricky is triggered by naughty behavior and starts killing offenders – but with its tongue fully and clearly in its cheek the whole time. What it maybe lacks in some of the more tonally unique qualities of the first film it more than makes up for via its sense of humor and energy.
And its probably accidental metaness: at one point, Ricky and a girlfriend go to see a film about… a guy who dresses up as Santa and kills people. The film happens to be (or has clips from) Silent Night, Deadly Night. Sure, why not.
Despite there only being about 45 minutes of original footage, SNDN, Part 2 vastly exceeds the overall quality of the first flick with in-yer-face filming from Lee Harry, a bouncy score from Michael Armstrong, and especially the over-the-top performance from Freeman – whether he’s interjecting his SNDN flashbacks while explaining them to his psychologist, or taking much more enjoyment than brother Billy in his killing rampage before and after his incarceration in the mental hospital where he’s being interviewed – make it a downright horror classic. You can pretty much skip the first film if desired, and that may be for the best: even with the entertaining re-presentation of the clips, the recycling of that movie into this one gets pretty exhausting by a certain point, although I respect the “creative” budgeting of that. And we get plenty of campy, goofy, (occasionally) bloody goodness to tip things well in Part 2’s favor overall.