Friday, January 25, 2013

Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (1987)

**This review contains spoilers**

Following the events of Silent Night, Deadly Night, Billy Chapman is dead after taking a series of gunshots to the back at St. Mary‘s Orphanage. But the sight of his dead brother’s body was too much handle, so as a child, Ricky issued a deadly warning to Mother Superior by placing her on his “naughty” list.

Billy failed in his mission to kill Mother Superior, but Billy’s attack forced the closure of St. Mary’s Orphanage. Bound to a wheelchair, Mother Superior (Jean Miller) is retired and recovering from a stroke, and with the help of Sister Mary (Nadya Wynd), Ricky found a foster family. The Rosenbergs embraced Ricky as their own child, but Ricky still experienced flashbacks from his traumatic childhood.

Heartbroken over his stepfather’s death as a teenager, Ricky tries to fight through the depression, but after witnessing an attempted rape, Ricky embarks on a brutal killing spree. But Ricky runs out of luck after murdering his girlfriend Jennifer (Elizabeth Kaitan), her ex-boyfriend Chip (Ken Weichert), and other innocent  bystanders. During the standoff with the police, Ricky tries to commit suicide, but he runs out of bullets.

As an eighteen year-old man, Ricky’s (Eric Freeman) last name is changed to Caldwell, and he’s a patient at a mental hospital. One day, Ricky receives a tape recorded evaluation from Dr. Henry Bloom (James L. Newman). Ricky already angered other psychiatrists, so after failing numerous evaluations, Dr. Bloom becomes Ricky’s last chance to avoid a trip to the electric chair. But as Ricky recalls his troubled childhood and murders as a teenager, Dr. Bloom slowly shows signs of fear after each story. Ricky takes advantage of Dr. Bloom’s fear, murders him, and Ricky escapes the hospital.

Ricky finds a Salvation Army-like Santa Claus, murders him, steals his suit, and Ricky plans to follow in his brother’s footsteps. Picking up where Billy left off, Ricky plans to take his axe to the retired Mother Superior’s home, and finish his brother’s mission.

Eric Freeman’s Ricky is more devious than Robert Brian Wilson’s Billy. Billy was someone, who snapped, AND he showed remorse during his final moments. Billy’s innocence was believable, because his character was victimized and tormented, but Ricky’s a different story. Mother Superior was nice to Ricky. Ricky had a girlfriend, who cared about him, and The Rosenbergs loved him as a child and a teenager. But Ricky chose his path as a sadistic asshole. He enjoyed killing people, and he embraced the murdering psycho inside of him. With all that said, I enjoyed Eric Freeman’s Ricky more than Wilson’s Billy. Yes, Freeman is hammy, but his dark side is more creepy, in a comical way of course.

Also, they added another layer to the Chapman Brother’s traumatic triggers here. In Part I, Billy’s flashbacks from St. Mary’s Orphanage and his parent’s murders trigger his killing sprees. In Part II, Ricky’s rage is triggered by flashbacks from the same events, but the color red and nuns also play an important factor in causing his tirades.

Unfortunately, my praises for this film stop with Freeman. Kaitan is just eye candy, and Newman is solid enough, but the constant flashbacks (more on that later) kill any chances of momentum for his character. Sister Mary is a caring character, but she can’t measure up to Gilmer McComrik’s Sister Margaret.

And they changed the actress, who portrayed Mother Superior! Miller’s crabby and feeble old lady act is painful to watch. Yes, I understand Mother Superior had a stroke, but Lilyan Chauvin was irreplaceable, because she MADE the Mother Superior character. They tried to use the stroke, and awful, distracting deformed skin make-up to justify  Mother Superior’s new personality, but fuck, if they couldn’t get Chauvin to reprise her role, then they should’ve  just killed off the Mother Superior character altogether. Superior is the main target for Billy and Ricky. She’s the reason why they went on the killing sprees in the first place. You can’t use an underwhelming replacement for such an important character, and try to pass her off as the same person in the original. Superior ‘87 is a major problem, and I usually cringe or face palm before her first appearance, because Superior’s presence just KILLS the final climax in this film.

Flashbacks are okay, if you just use a few CLIPS here and there, but Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 literally replays entire scenes from the original. As Ricky retells his story to Dr. Bloom, the story shifts back to Part I, showing select scenes in their entirety (Santa murdering Billy & Ricky’s parents, Billy’s tirades, Billy’s abuse at the orphanage, the ending, etc.). This style of storytelling is just lazy, and it kills all of the momentum for the present story. Yeah, they play flashback footage from the present storyline, but you won’t see it until the forty minute mark. And everything feels so rushed and underdeveloped, when they finally make the transition to Ricky’s escape at the very end. It feels like you’re watching two movies in one, and the constant back and forth shifts to present and past straggle into a giant clustered mess.

I try to stay in suspension of disbelief mode for movies, but Silent Night Part 2 pushes everything too far. SOMEHOW Ricky has vivid memories of his parent’s deaths? Really? How? He was a baby when it all happened. Plus, Ricky was strapped to seat in the car as a baby, and the Santa murdered his mother outside, so he couldn’t see anything. Ricky explains how Billy told him the story of his parent’s murders, but still, I have a hard time buying into an eighteen year-old vividly remembering a tragedy as an infant. They tried to recreate the “flashbacks trigger a tirade” effect with Ricky, but Ricky recalling the tragedies from his childhood was just too far fetched for my taste.

Also, before he reaches the age of eighteen, Ricky is strolling through the woods one day, and he accidentally witnesses a couple having a picnic. The boyfriend tries to rape his girlfriend, but Ricky jumps inside his red jeep, and he runs him over, killing the boyfriend. Umm, why was this necessary? Did they really have to stretch things so far to include a random attempted rape scene to maintain continuity from the first film?

So Ricky EASILY kills Dr. Bloom, and escapes the mental hospital? Umm, if killing psychiatrists and strolling out of the mental hospital is SO easy, then why didn’t Ricky kill one of the psychiatrists before Bloom? I’m suppose to believe Ricky just decided to kill the last psychiatrist out of the blue? No. Just no. 

Ruining the big climax/final showdown with a replacement Mother Superior was bad enough, and Superior’s decapitation just made everything worse. Ricky chops off her head with an axe, but when the cops and Sister Mary arrive at her house, Superior’s body is still in the wheelchair……until Sister Mary’s slight touch causes her head to fall off. AND when the head falls off, you can clearly see signs of a prosthetic dummy head. Ugh, I always roll my eyes at this moment. Unbelievable, just unfuckingbelievable.

Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 is mostly remembered for Ricky’s famous “GARBAGE DAY!” outburst during the wild killing spree towards the end. It’s become a popular and well-known meme over the years, and here’s a pic:


But Part 2 is still a terrible film. Freeman’s nutty raging lunatic act is hilarious, but in good conscience, I can’t give this film a positive score. I just can’t.

Final Rating: 2/10

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