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Stream to Scream: “SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT PART 2″

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As many fright fans already know, FANGORIA offers a great selection of gruesome movies, old and new, for free at our Hulu channel. To give you a better idea of what’s available, FANGORIA is taking in-depth looks at some of the channel’s terrifying titles with Stream to Scream. Today: Lee Harry’s Campy, Crazy SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT PART 2!

There aren’t many sequels as maligned and parodied as SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT PART 2. In context, the film didn’t stand a chance critically. PART 2 was made to take advantage of the newly acquired controversial title from the producers and prominently features nearly 40 minutes of footage from the first film. But despite all of its misgivings, there is a lot of fun to be had here, both intentionally and unintentionally.

While the original film is known for its over-the-top gore scenes and enthusiastic mean streak, the sequel dips into absurdity by vicariously projecting the story of Billy onto his younger brother, Ricky. Since we don’t necessarily see Ricky’s traumatizing experiences through a credible lens, Ricky’s motivations are much thinner, leading to a surprisingly imaginative and often hilarious descent into pseudo-slasher camp. SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT PART 2 isn’t just wayward hilarity; while the film isn’t exactly scary, there’s a lot of intentional fun and colorful moments that show glimpses of the film’s potential.

Once the glorified clip reel comes to an end (highlighted by some truly implausible storytelling by Ricky), the film actually settles rather well into its plotline. The story about Ricky’s adoption, as silly as it is at times, is approached with genuine sincerity, and there’s actually a bit of empathy one feels for Ricky, even more so than Billy in the first film. And once we get into Ricky’s double life as a crazed vigilante of sorts as well as his audacious romantic subplot, the film accelerates to full-on insanity.  Some moments are executed with such brilliant comic timing, especially when Ricky takes revenge on a loud moviegoer, that it’s hard not to be aware that SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT PART 2 has its tongue firmly in cheek.

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Director Lee Harry brings an impressive amount of technical skill to this rather thankless and rushed sequel. Harry’s hold on practical effects may bring the most violent moments of the film to life, but the director also boasts a great understanding of spatial movement which provides occasionally unique visual storytelling. And while Michael Armstrong’s score and Harvey Genkins’ cinematography tries hard to ape the aesthetics of the first SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT, their efforts are still worthy of praise in how seamless the replication is throughout.

While the performances range from laughably generic (James Newman as Dr. Bloom), to admirable yet painfully underwritten (Elizabeth Kaitan as Jennifer), there is nothing in the movie as fascinating and enjoyable as Eric Freeman in the role of Ricky. Despite all the criticism and laughter that comes with his delivery throughout the film, Freeman is completely driven when inhabiting Ricky and every moment is sold with the utmost confidence.  For better or for worse, Freeman has a great on-screen presence and is trying his damnedest to sell an out-of-control psychopath with no reservations whatsoever.

Though SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT PART 2 offers enough unintentional laughs and illogical goofiness to be a work of awkward hilarity, there’s still a spirit to the film that substitutes its lost chances for horror with incredibly fun set pieces. Harry’s directorial efforts are technically focused and proficient, even if his way with actors leaves much to be desired. And Eric Freeman’s genuinely inspired performance is worthy of your time alone, especially when he goes into rampage mode in the third act. It may be easy to dismiss SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT PART 2 as ironic entertainment, but if you watch this twisted flick with a pinch of objectivity, perhaps you’ll find a new holiday horror mainstay.

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About the author
Ken W. Hanley
Ken W. Hanley is the Web Content Manager for FANGORIA, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, a graphic novel and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
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