The best thing about Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out! is the cover, and to even suggest that it’s a great cover is solely based on the pre-shrunk SNDN branding from the original film combined with an absolute love for the IVE logo at the bottom of the poster/cover box. The content of the film is completely trash. Late 80’s hooey! I’m not gonna be the guy who’s complaining that it is a sequel in name only even if it does follow around poor Bah Humbugged Ricky Caldwell. I mean at least Ricky Caldwell’s back and following the late 80’s psychic saves the day/psychic causes all the problems trope. And yeah, there’s a Santa Claus and he’s a killer and there’s creepy Christmas imagery, so I can see why it has a fan base. This epitomizes how the direct to video market worked in the late 80’s. The warm familiar cover box with slight modification and franchise branding followed by a loosey goosey plot to tie the potential cash cow to the original series in an effort to milk us at the video store. Don’t hate the player, hate the game, right? I do not by any means hate Silent Night Deadly Night Part 3. How could I? It’s pure camp, cheese, bad dialogue all around and to top it off, it’s got Bill Moseley in it. IT CAME FROM 1980x continues the Silent Night Deadly Night retro series to celebrate the release of one of my favorite remakes in recent memory, Silent Night and to promote heavily the double feature box set that was re-released by Anchor Bay. I consider both of these must buy holiday classics. Let’s see why you’ll be glad that the newest incarnation of the DVD release is in a three movie box set with Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 4: Initiation and Part 5: The Toymaker.
Ricky Caldwell, the notorious “Killer Santa Claus,” awakens from a six-year coma after being kept alive on life-support by a slightly crazed doctor experimenting with ESP and other special abilities. Ricky targets a young, clairvoyant blind woman named Laura, who is traveling with her brother Chris and his girlfriend Jerri to their grandmother’s house for Christmas Eve. Ricky decides to go after her, leaving a trail of dead bodies in hi s wake.
Is the bad acting too much for you? Of course it isn’t. We’re horror fans, and that means we can pretty much handle it all. We are experts of riffing on the baddest of the bad. Many of us feel that we could have been understudies for any one of the robots on Mystery Science Theater 3000. In fact that just may be the perfect place for a movie like SNDN3. Somebody get the RiffTrax legal team on this immediately and secure the rights. Yes, Bill Moseley is an obvious exception to the rule, but even his performance as Ricky had me underwhelmed. Do you know how it pains me to put down Chop Top? He was only doing Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 two years earlier and now… he’s uncreatively playing killer Santa. I can definitely see why a horror movie budding star would want to appear in this franchise. I would. I probably would try to get on board script unread. That’s probably why I don’t make movies and just write about them. No scruples. This is not Moseley’s best role, but at least it kept him type cast and in horror and working. Samantha Scully on the other hand, my heart cannot find a way to allow love to be released for her and her performance. She gets a role in Best of the Best and Bloodsuckers after SNDN3 and then everyone pretty much realizes this acting thing ain’t for her. Richard C. Adams as Santa… sheesh. Let’s not even discuss that lest I end up on the naughty list and fail to fulfill sufficient acts of kindness to afford me a present under the tree. We’re all glad to see a star like West Side Story’s Richard Beymer give this installment some street cred. No singing. No dancing. No problem. He’ll just play a doctor like the guys on TV. Fail. Maybe if Silent Night Deadly Night had been a musical… I suppose that time has passed.
I was reading that Monte Hellman was at the Alamo Drafthouse screening o SNDN3 and said that it really wasn’t his favorite effort. Some of Monte’s early work included an uncredited directorial effort on The Terror (yes, that The Terror), Beast from Haunted Cave (schlock is as schlock does), Back Door to Hell (sounds like a porn title) and Cockfighter (which sounds like a porn parody of Street Fighter only was released in ’74 so maybe Street Fight was an effort for Hollywood to make a legit release of Cockfighter?… Naaaaah!). Writer Carolos Laszlo made this his only writing effort. Arthur on the other hand went on to produce 1993’s Cronos, Night Watch, Rock in Rio (the Iron Maiden live vid) and Still Reigning (Slayer’s live video). Monte Hellman even got in on the writing effort… way to put your name all over this Ring Run, shit filled flaming bag of a movie. You may be considered a cult video icon, but I don’t really care for any of your previous work, so I guess I’m the bastard for watching the movie and expecting more.
The 1980’s wanted so badly to be the era of psychics in horror movies. One might look at the movie Creepers or even Friday the 13th Part 7: New Blood for examples of the inclusion of psychic ability in horror. The real problem with the inclusion of psychic phenomenon is not that you take a supernatural power and put it in the hands of your protagonist. The problem is when the movie that features the psychic ability is a sequel of a movie that doesn’t even remotely have anything to do with the psychic ability. I kinda like Friday the 13th Part 7. Great effects work. Kane Hodder. Good kills. It completely falls apart with the inclusion of mind power as the weapon du jour for the protagonist. What’s the matter? Couldn’t think anything else up to make the series continue (oh wait… send the killer to the big city!). Silent Night Deadly Night Part 3 comes out a year after Friday the 13th Part 7. I’m not saying that the writers of SNDN3 were playing copy cat, but the trend that continued into Nightmare onElm Street completely took away from each of the series. Want a reason that I dislike SNDN3? This is at its core. Sure it’s a sequel and somehow gets away with driving without an artistic license, but trend following and pandering to an audience that was at the whim of direct to video marketing during the late 80’s helped bring down the greatest decade for horror since the 1930’s.
The kills are subpar especially when you line up the masterful and creative kills of the first and second installments. There’s nothing quite like dropping a battery charger in someone’s mouth, impaling a topless beauty on a set of antlers, hanging someone with Christmas lights or beheading a sleigh rider. Impaling someone in the chest just won’t cut it. It’s Brand x. Generic. Who cares? That’s not working? Well stab someone in the fucking stomach! Then let’s just add in a semi-mad scientist in the form of Dr. Newbury and play on all the great tropes involving that historical favored horrific subgenre. In fact, throw in the goddamn kitchen sink while your at it and not in that create, inspired way that a movie like say House might. It’s a slasher film at the end of the slasher film boom which leaves the viewer an emotional ghost town with a dried up well and an uncreative one at that.
International Video Entertainment
Perhaps the most intriguing thing to come out of the research for this edition of 1980x was the history of USA Home Video, International Home Entertainment and Family Home Entertainment. USA Home Video put out the original SNDN, IHE put out the subsequent two sequels and Artisan was bought up by Lionsgate for the fourth and fifth parts. FHE is responsible for family content that would include on of my favorite VHS tapes as a kid, G.I. Joe. I actually picked it up again at a garage sale for $.50, watched it again, fell in love with the series again despite the new movie adaptation. The hierarchy that surrounds the conglomerate known as Artisan Entertainment (whoa, right… big name in the biz) was an epiphany to me. Live Entertainment, ThrillerVideo… all interrelated. Makes you want to draft an organizational chart and start watching the complete filmography.
It’s nice to know that people want to watch this horror movie despite my feeling that it’s the low point in the series (although part 2 could easily have grabbed this honor had it not be the comedic value of the later part of the film). I love that it came out during the era of VHS marketing when a laser disc was also an option. Silent Night Deadly Night 3 on laser disc? That sounds like a collector’s wet dream. It has seen release on DVD as a part of the aforementioned “trilogy” and as part of a four movie combo pack with My Best Friend is A Vampire (which is hilarious, features David Warner, a great song by Oingo Boingo and a sexy vampiress who pretty much took my virginity… in my mind), Repossessed (laugh riot), Slaughter High (cult classic, genius high school horror with brilliant kills) and… of course, this stinker. Remember that I come from the LeVar Burton school of media which basically says, “But don’t take my word for it”. I encourage you to watch any movies that I rip apart. I really do. I’m just giving you something to think about while you’re trying to mack it to your grandma’s friends while sitting on the sofa half paying attention, half gagging. I don’t like writing negative reviews. Period (although it can be fun to be the bully).
I would love to hear your feedback and even further I would love to tabulate it. I’m including a special survey of sorts. Please answer the questions below and let me know how you think the movie should have ended, what you think of the kills and most importantly, what should have been the sequel if the producers had stuck with the Ricky Caldwell as Santa storyline. You’re participation is much appreciated. We’ll try to announce the results when available. This will go on for an undetermined amount of time to begin. Thanks in advance for participating.
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Until next time, keep your heads clean!
Make sure to pick up Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 3 so you can prove me wrong and intelligently argue my complete incompetence (tisn’t hard). The Four Pack can be purchased HERE (cheap as of the time of this post). Make sure to pick up Silent Night HERE and the new Survival Double Feature of Silent Night Deadly Night 1 and 2 HERE. If you’re still feeling limber after all that buying you can check out my review of Silent Night over at Dr. Terror’s Blog of Horrors HERE.