Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out! (1989)


Sorry I've been absent for a while, but I've been busy job hunting, and it's a time consuming pain in the ass. Coming back with some more reviews, so be on the lookout!

Six years after the events of Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2, Ricky Caldwell (Bill Moseley) is still in a coma. Ricky was presumed dead after the gunshot wounds, but Dr. Newbury (Richard Beymer) surgically reconstructed Ricky’s deformed brain. Dr. Newbury and his assistant revived basic functions with a machine attached to Ricky’s head, but Newbury wanted more.

Dr. Newbury developed an obsession for Ricky, so in an attempt to bring him back to the real world, Dr. Newbury began conducting a series of experiments with a psychic. With the help of some persistent goading from Dr. Newbury, Laura Anderson (Samantha Scully), a blind clairvoyant,  reluctantly uses her powers to form a connection with the comatose Ricky. Laura is frightened by Ricky’s childhood memories, and after a series of lifelike nightmares, where Ricky hunts Laura as his primary victim, Laura contemplates leaving  Dr. Newbury’s mission to study Ricky.

On Christmas Eve, Laura, her brother Chris (Eric Da Re), and his new girlfriend, Jerri (Laura Harring) take the annual trip to their grandmother’s house for Christmas Day. Meanwhile, Ricky is taunted by the hospital’s sleazy Santa Claus. Santa triggers a reaction from Ricky, and once Ricky awakes from his coma, he brutally murders the Santa Claus. In the lobby, Ricky notices the receptionist’s red flower pin, steals her letter opener, and Ricky uses the letter opener to murder the receptionist. Eventually, Ricky hitchhikes a ride, but the driver shows Ricky his hand knitted red Christmas sweater. After murdering the driver and stealing his clothes, Ricky decides to pay a visit to Laura’s grandmother.

Laura is still haunted by Ricky’s childhood memories, and during Dr. Newbury’s experiments, Laura unknowingly developed a telekinetic connection with Ricky. Dr. Newbury teams up with Lt. Connely (Robert Culp) to stop Ricky, but Newbury will do everything in his power to take Ricky alive. Laura, Chris, and Jerri arrive at Granny Anderson’s (Elizabeth Hoffman) house, but Granny’s unusual  disappearance creates an unsettling Christmas Eve atmosphere. Ricky is waiting for the right moment, and things take a turn for the worst, when Chris’ red jeep disappears……..  

Technically, Ricky is the main character in this film, but the story revolves around Laura, and I give the nod to Scully for the best performance in this film. Scully showcases her eardrum, shattering shrieking skills throughout this film, and she’s believable as the sympathetic victim. Moseley is mostly known for his role in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, and more recently, Texas Chainsaw 3D. Also, Moseley worked with Rob Zombie in the past (House Of 1,000 Corpses & The Devil’s Rejects). The replacement Mother Superior in Part 2 annoys me, but Ricky is brain-dead in this film, so you can’t expect any familiar characteristics from Billy’s brother here. Moseley’s dialogue is mostly limited to slow whispers of “Laura,” and it might work for some people, but I can’t buy into Moseley’s silent and zombified deadly killer act. It’s not his fault, though. I blame that fucking ridiculous contraption on the top of his head. Ricky’s brain machine is so cartoonish, and it looks like something out of a bad sci-fi movie. Here take a look:


You won’t see much of her, but Elizabeth Hoffman is spot on as Granny Anderson, and Laura Harring is okay as Jerri. Eric Da Re is just there, and I guess they wanted someone, who embodied the look of an 80’s rock star. Dr. Newbury is a douchebag. A creepy douchebag, but he’s still a douchebag. Plus, Beymer’s pompous “I’m studying Ricky for the good of mankind!” shtick brings too many unintentional laughs out of me. And Robert Culp’s lighthearted approach towards the hard ass cop persona is enjoyable.

Better Watch Out! is the first serious film in the Silent Night, Deadly Night franchise. No corny one-liners, or over the top characters, and the hammy 80’s slasher routine is toned down. Also, Better Watch Out! is the first Silent Night film to drop the killer Santa Claus theme.

I appreciate the effort for change here. The telekinetic connection storyline with Laura and Ricky is something different, BUT the execution in this film is just horrible. During the trip to Granny’s house, Connely and Dr. Newbury go back and forth during a series of annoying arguments about morals and science. I can’t comprehend the point of the “Ricky’s  future” duel between Newbury and Connely. Connely obviously won’t respect Newbury’s opinions, and Newbury is too smug and eccentric, so it’s hard to take him seriously.

Laura has psychic powers. I get that, but Part 3 dropped the ball, because Laura NEVER uses her psychic powers to thwart Ricky’s attacks, or defeat him. In fact, Laura unknowingly gave away Granny’s location, as Ricky listened to Laura’s directions to the house. And during the final confrontation with Ricky, Laura has visions of Granny urging her to use the psychic powers to defeat Ricky. Instead, Laura spends time listening to Ricky’s movements, and destroying the only light bulb in the basement to “even” the odds? And as Ricky is trying to choke Jerri to death, Laura just stands there, and accepts the inevitable?

I understand the dynamic of Ricky searching for Laura, because during his coma, Laura was the only person from the outside, who tried to bond with him. Although, you won’t see the long awaited one on one confrontation between Laura and Ricky until the very end. And everything leading up to the final showdown might put you to sleep. After Laura’s first interaction with Ricky in a nightmare, Better Watch Out! slowly goes through the motions. It’s an unbearable bore-fest, and the underwhelming climax doesn’t help anything.

When Laura, Chris, and Jerri arrive at Granny’s place, the house is empty, and Granny is missing. Laura shows concern, but instead of launching an immediate search party, Chris decides to spend time with Jerri instead. Apparently, making out with and taking a bath with Jerri is more important than your grandmother’s safety? Okay then. Chris is a clueless doofus, and of course, when he finally decides to do something about Granny’s mysterious disappearance, it’s too late. Ugh,  I always dread watching the fiasco at Granny’s house, easily the most mind-numbingly stupid series of events in this film.

Why is Ricky indestructible in this film? All of the sudden Ricky is capable of walking through windows and doors? How? While Ricky chokes Jerri, Chris stabs him with a knife. The knife goes through his arm, Ricky just pulls it out, and continues his pursuit of Laura like nothing happened? Seriously?

The violence and gore in this film is laughable. The splatters of blood in the opening nightmare sequence resemble cheap red paint, and I have the same feelings for Laura’s vision of the receptionist’s death. And I always laugh at Dr. Newbury’s “tragic” death scene…….that shouldn’t happen.

FINALLY they dropped the “attempted rapes trigger a tirade” bullshit in this film, and they used clips from Part I again, but they didn’t show any scenes in their entirety, which is a good thing. They also maintained continuity for Ricky’s character, because red and Santa Claus trigger Ricky’s killer instincts. Still, Part 3 is a pretty lousy film. Every time I decide to watch Part 3, it takes me at least a week or more to finish the entire thing, because I can’t sit through this tedious mess in one viewing. The sub-plot featuring the friction between Laura and Jerri is good for a few laughs, and Laura’s insults are hilarious. But overall, Better Watch Out! fails to meet the very low standards of straight-to-video horror. Better Watch Out! tries to be a “smart” slasher flick, but the end result is a pretentious bore with a convoluted and senseless story.

Final Rating: 2/10

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