The Bizarre Genius of Silent Night Deadly Night 2

Tim Boden

Christmas means many things – family, presents, eating mince pies until you feel queasy and ashamed – but for many of us, one of the highlights of the holiday season is getting the time to just veg out and watch a few movies.

Whether it’s an old classic like It’s A Wonderful Life or a subversive modern take like Bad Santa (or possibly one of those films that’s nothing to do with Christmas but that always seems to be on TV at this time of year anyway, like The Great Escape), everyone’s got a favourite Christmas film.

It’s probably fair to say that Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 doesn’t top anyone’s list of Christmas classics. Which is a shame, because in its own terrible way, it’s kind of brilliant. Let me tell you why.

Note that 2. It’s important. The first Silent Night, Deadly Night was a cheap and nasty 80s slasher flick with the gimmick that the crazed murderer happened to be dressed as Santa Claus. SNDN (as it will henceforth be referred to in order to save my time and yours) isn’t  ‘so bad it’s good’, it’s just plain bad. Back in the day it was pretty controversial, attracting protests outside cinemas in the USA, and only being released in the UK in any format in 2009, but to modern eyes, it’s tame stuff; it’s no more shocking than your average episode of South Park, and probably cost about the same to make. Its real problem is just that it takes too long to get going – which is particularly bad for a film that’s all of seventy-five minutes long – and doesn’t do enough when it finally gets there. Add on a nasty undercurrent of eroticised sexual violence, and it’s not worth your time.

Luckily for you, SNDN Part 2 saves you the bother of watching the first by recapping it in its opening scenes. And by recapping, what I really mean is that practically the whole first forty minutes – of a ninety-minute film! – is taken up by explaining what happened in the first film. That should give you some idea of the quality we’re working with here.

Only once it’s finished with the edited highlights does SNDN Part 2 get going with its own, original plot. Not that there really is a plot beyond ‘man kills a bunch of people’. We’re not talking Tarantino here. Hell, we’re not even talking Michael Bay. (Although there is a gratuitous nude make-out scene, and a bit where a car explodes for no reason whatsoever, so maybe the comparison’s fair.)

But a film like this isn’t the kind of film you watch for the plot. The appeal of SNDN Part 2 is all in the acting, or rather, lack thereof. The film is pretty much made by Eric Freeman in the lead role of Ricky, although equal billing ought to go to Eric Freeman’s eyebrows, which have a personality all to themselves. Freeman only has one mode as an actor, and that’s a kind of deranged sarcasm, in which everything anyone does is greeted with a manic stare, a bitter retort, and the wild flailing of the aforementioned eyebrows. You may be wondering how it’s possible for eyebrows to flail, but trust me, that’s the best way to describe it. You know how pigeons can’t walk without bobbing their heads? Freeman can’t talk without those eyebrows leaping up and down his forehead with wild abandon. It’s incredible.

Not that anyone else in the cast is exactly talented in the acting department. Most of them are somewhere on the scale between ‘meh’ and ‘what were you thinking?’. The only one who comes close to matching Freeman, though, is the guy who plays a character called Chip, and this is less to do with his personality and more to do with his distractingly 1980s haircut, which appears to have been carved from a wedge of loft insulation.

The script is of course nonsense, littered with leaden cliché and bizarre plot holes. There’s several unanswered mysteries in the script, but my personal favourite is the sheer number of scenes that depend on people not having noticed Ricky being there, despite the fact he’s six foot tall, built like a brick shit-house and is completely fucking nuts  – this reaches its peak, I think, when a small girl on a bicycle runs straight into him, even though he’s spent the past five minutes out in the street firing a handgun and laughing hysterically. But that’s all part of the appeal; unlike so many irony-laden B-movies deliberately aiming for kitschness, SNDN Part 2 isn’t doing this in a wry, self-deprecating way. It really is that stupid, and that’s what makes it great.

But don’t take my word for it – watch this short selection of highlights that someone on Youtube has thoughtfully put together. And then if that makes you laugh, get some mates, get some drinks (you’ll need them), and watch the whole thing. You’ll laugh, you’ll sigh, you’ll be unable to hear the word ‘naughty’ without involuntarily smirking.

And remember: Santa’s watching, Santa’s waiting…

About Tim Boden

Tim Boden has been a grumpy old man since he was about 13. Born and raised in the darkest East Midlands, he now lives in Australia as part of an ongoing project to avoid getting a proper job and settling down for as long as reasonably possible. His interests include comics, beer, rugby league, 20th-century history and other things mostly favoured by middle-aged men who spend a lot of time in sheds. He has very strong opinions on vegetables.