• Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 (Shout! Factory) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: December 11th, 2018.
    Director: Lee Harry
    Cast: Eric Freeman, James Newman, Elizabeth Kaitan
    Year: 1987
    Purchase From Amazon

    Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 – Movie Review:

    In 1987, Lawrence Appelbaum decided to bankroll a sequel to the controversial 1984 Santa slasher Silent Night, Deadly Night, a film that drew no shortage of controversy to its theatrical release by using an image of Santa Claus holding an axe in its advertising campaign. The plan for this sequel was to incorporate a whole lot of existing footage from the original film, something that has gone on to give this second picture in the series almost as much notoriety as the original (really, this movie recycles roughly forty-minutes from its predecessor!).

    The story follows Ricky Caldwell (Eric Freeman), the younger brother of Billy, the killer from the original picture. Ricky is a troubled young man who lives in a prison hospital where Dr. Henry Bloom (James L. Newman) hopes to successfully pick his brain in order to find out why he's turned out the way he's turned out. It's Christmas Eve, and Bloom intends to record their conversation, which starts with a discussion of how his parents were killed. This, of course, allows the film to use ‘flashbacks' which is where all that recycling comes into play. We learn about his parents and about what happened to Billy, how they wound up in an orphanage run by an abusive Mother Superior and how at eighteen years of age Billy snapped while working at a toy store before then trying to kill Mother Superior only to be shot dead in front of the population of the orphanage.

    From here, we learn how Ricky was sent to live was sent by Sister Mary (Nadya Wynd) to live with a family called The Rosenbergs and how during this time things would set him off: the sit of a nun, the color red, the sound of a car backfiring and certain ‘naughty' behavior he just so happens to witness. When Ricky sees a teenager get too fresh with his girlfriend, he steps in and kills the young man, clearly set to follow now in his older brother's footsteps. As the interview continues, we learn how Ricky killed a few undesirables in his teenage years, how he fell for a lovely young woman named Jennifer (Elizabeth Kaitan), how Ricky got into it with her ex-boyfriend Chip (Kenneth Bryan James) and how when he learned that they had sex before she was dating Ricky, he kills him. It's all down hill from there, as Ricky completely loses it and sets out to finish what Billy started.

    While half the damn movie might be made up of footage from the original film (it plays like a ‘greatest hits' reel), this second entry in the franchise does have its own wonky charm and, in its own screwy way, turns out to be a lot of fun. Yes, there's a certain laziness inherent in reusing what was made earlier, we can't really get around that, but the new material with Ricky is pretty entertaining stuff. Much of the credit for this has to go to leading man Eric Freeman, who seems to really relish the opportunity to play a psychopath in this picture. His performance is key to making this movie as watchable as it is and he's just a lot of fun to watch in this role. If nothing else, the guy has no shortage of enthusiasm!

    The rest of the cast are fine. Newman is well-cast as the doctor and does fine with the material he's been given. Nadya Wynd makes for a reasonably sympathetic nun while Elizabeth Kaitan, who would later show up in some of the Vice Academy sequels and in Friday The 13th Part VII: The New Blood, is cute and likeable here, a good casting choice for the part. Kenneth Bryan James does a fine job as Chip, the obnoxious ex-boyfriend who finally sets Ricky off for good. Pretty much everyone who appears in front of the camera for this one delivers the goods.

    As to the production values? Well, this was clearly made on a modest budget but the kill scenes are decent and when there's makeup effects work involved, it turns out well. The cinematography from Harvey Genkins (who shot The Garbage Pail Kids Movie the same year!) isn't particularly inventive but it is effective enough to work. Michael Armstrong's score is fine if not all that memorable.

    Really though, it's Freeman's manic performance that makes this one stand out. He's the main reason that the film is as entertaining as it is and as such, he's the main reason you'll want to see this in the first place. He absolutely owns this film.

    Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 – Blu-ray Review:

    Shout! Factory brings Silent Night Deadly, Night Part 2 to Blu-ray on a 50GB disc in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition offering framed in the film's theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85.1 widescreen. The film begins with a disclaimer noting that in order to provide the best version of the possible two separate sources were used for this presentation. With the original negative missing in action, what we have here is a composite made using a good quality theatrical print and the high definition restoration that was done for the first film. Given that a whole lot of this sequel is made up of footage from that first film, the bulk of the film looks quite good. Shout! has done a decent job making the two elements match fairly closely, so we're not really taken out of the movie anytime there's a shift in the transfer source. Some minor print damage does show up and there are occasional color fluctuations but nothing to get particularly worked up over when you consider the nature of the film's origins. Detail and depth are solid if never quite approaching the quality you'd get with a scan of the OCN. Colors fare well and black levels are good. The image is nice and film-like, showing no problematic noise reduction or edge enhancement problems. Some fine detail does get lost against darker colors here and there but overall this looks fine given what had to be done to put this project together and it's certainly a nice step up from the past DVD edition of the movie.

    The film gets the DTS-HD 2.0 Mono treatment. Optional subtitles are provided in English only. There are no issues with the sound here at all. Dialogue is clean, the levels are properly balanced and the score sounds good. No noticeable issues with any hiss or distortion were detected during playback, and there's decent range for a single channel mix. The music in the film in particular gets a nice boost here, it's stronger and has better presence without sounding artificially pumped up or boosted.

    Shout! Factory supply two commentary tracks, the first with co-writer/director Lee Harry and actors Eric Freeman and James Newman. Getting the chance to hear Freeman's thoughts on all of the work that he did on this picture is a very good thing indeed, so fans will want to check this out. Harry and Newman chime in as well, but we've heard from them before on the second track included on this disc. This track features Lee Harry, co-writer Joseph H. Earle and actor Newman and appears to be the one that was originally included on the old Anchor Bay DVD release. Regardless, there's a lot of information in here about how the movie wound up the way it wound up, the use of footage from the first movie, the kill scenes, the different cast members that show up in the film and quite a bit more.

    From there, dig into the seventy-five-minute documentary Slay Bells Ring Again: The Story Of Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 which interviews Harry, cast members Freeman, Newman, Elizabeth Kaitan, Darrel Guilbeau, Kenny McCabe and makeup effects artist Christopher Biggs. Well worth the time it takes to get through this piece, here we learn about how everyone interviewed came to be involved in the production, what it was like on set, the shooting and production schedule, the film's ‘ties' to the first one, the characters that populate the film and how all involved feel about the movie years later. As these stories play out, the nicely edited piece uses archival footage from the picture and some great behind the scenes images to ensure that the visuals stay interesting throughout. It's quite good, this should make fans of this particular film very happy.

    After that, we get a sixty-two-minute interview with Biggs entitled I Don't Sleep. More than just a talk about his work on the feature, he goes in-depth here about how he got his start in the business before then detailing some of his early work and then a few of the better-known films that he has been involved in over the years, including some notable horror projects. He's an interesting guy with some great stories to tell. This is worth checking out.

    Garbage Days Are Here Again is a twenty-minute featurette with Freeman where we visit the locations that were used in the film and see them as they appear in the modern day, compared with how they look in the movie. Freeman basically plays tour guide and tells some interesting stories about the locations as we see them.

    Shout! Factory has also included an amusing eight-minute short film called Rick Today which is posited as a talk show style piece with Freeman revisiting his role from the film and talking about the events that took place in the picture and how the ‘movie' that was made of his story differed from the ‘real life' version he lived. It's a fun and clever piece worth checking out.

    A trailer for the feature, a trailer for an Eric Freeman ‘documentary' called Finding Freeman, menus and chapter selection round out the extras on the disc. As to the packaging, Shout! Factory has included some nice reversible cover art for this release as well as a collectible slipcover limited to the first pressing of the disc.

    Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 – The Final Word:

    It may have seemed an unlikely choice to receive a special edition Blu-ray release but Silent Night Deadly, Night Part 2 has one thanks to Scream Factory and the world is a better place for it. The presentation is solid given what was available and the extras are not only plentiful but both genuinely interesting and entertaining as well. The movie itself is a demented blast, thanks mainly to Freeman's performance in the lead. Highly recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 3 Comments
    1. Maureen Champ's Avatar
      Maureen Champ -
      For me, that's strange that 1984's people who were against release of original missed a similar flick like Lewis Jackson's Christmas Evil (1980)
    1. Ignatius's Avatar
      Ignatius -
      Quote Originally Posted by Maureen Champ View Post
      For me, that's strange that 1984's people who were against release of original missed a similar flick like Lewis Jackson's Christmas Evil (1980)
      It was probably a small enough release to slip under their radar. Silent Night, Deadly Night went all out with newspaper ads and primetime TV spots that pushed the killer santa angle hard.
    1. Killer Meteor's Avatar
      Killer Meteor -
      I always loved how Mickey Rooney was up in arms about it, then 7 years later starred in part 5!