DECEMBER 16, 2009
Lionsgate recently did horror fans a solid and FINALLY released the final 3 Silent Night Deadly Night sequels on DVD (which means I actually bought SNDN 3 twice this year, after obtaining a VHS copy earlier in the spring). While the DVD is a bit of a ripoff (all full frame transfers, no extras whatsoever, for 15 bucks?), and it is given a completely misleading cover (a killer Santa, something that is not a plot element in any of the films within), it's nice to finally have them all, especially Silent Night Deadly Night 4: Initiation, which was the only one in the series I had never seen in whole or in part.
SNDN 4, I now realize, is sort of like the Halloween III of the series, in a couple of ways. Like that unfairly maligned film, SNDN4 has no relation to the previous films, other than (possibly) the character Clint Howard plays. He is simply called Ricky, and that was of course the name of the killer from parts 2 and 3. Now, the fact that it's a different actor means nothing; if it IS the same Clint would be I think the seventh actor to portray him. Likewise, seeing a clip from SNDN 3 on the TV wouldn't really mean much either - Ricky goes to see the first SNDN in the 2nd film, despite being a direct sequel. Look - this franchise is either as lazy or as meta-crazy as they come, if not both.
It's also like H3 in that it concerns a cult using bugs to get their not-very-clear plan set in motion. Cockroaches are the primary antagonists here, though some traditionally icky worm like creatures (courtesy of Screamin' Mad George) show up as well. But unlike H3, the film's ties to its namesake holiday are incredibly thin; if not for a few shots of Christmas decorations and an extended discussion about Christmas vs. Hanukkah, the film could just as easily have occurred in the middle of June.
Otherwise, it's a surprisingly fun movie. The batshittedness of the whole thing was a definite plus (dude this movie has a giant swirling mass of killer pasta at one point), as are the light lesbian undertones and a brief role by Reggie Bannister back before his casting was little more than a gimmick. And George's makeup effects are pretty awesome (read - pretty damn gross), especially a scene involving a parasitic worm thing being inserted in the heroine's belly button and then emerging (much larger) from her mouth. Ew/YES!
Plus, any movie where Clint Howard dons a phallic mask and takes part in a ritual led by crazy lesbians can't be all together bad.
In a few days I will watch the 5th film, which I saw some of when I was 12 and is apparently a prequel to this one (since Clint reappears as Ricky, who dies at the end of this one). I believe that makes him the only actor to appear in more than one film of the series (not counting flashback footage), so congrats to him! And while no film in the series is particularly great, I will say this: so far it's the only major horror franchise that never got boring. The quality of the films vary, but they are all uniquely strange and often surprising. Who would have thought while watching part 2 that the next film would include a killer with a mixing bowl on his head?
What say you?