Thursday, December 16, 2010

Santa Rooney!

One of the truest tragedies of the ‘90s had to be the sudden death of the Silent Night, Deadly Night franchise. Few other horror series managed such an odd mix of seasonal sleaziness and utter awfulness to the point of comedy gold. The first two films will remain classics of a different era, one where a great movie could be made pieced entirely from scenes of its predecessor, mixed gloriously with some of the worst acting (though to be fair, best by eyebrows) in cinema history. Part 3 was something of a bore, while Brian Yuzna’s followup offered something new, if imperfect. 
So with the hot chocolate cooling, I finally sat down to rewatch, after a decade and a half, Silent Night Deadly Night 5: The Toymaker.
Quick Plot: Like so many Christmas themed horror movies, a young boy briefly watches his parents get it on. That’s just foreplay for a mysterious Christmas gift from a stranger, one that shirtless dad has the unluck of opening, being facehugged by, and strategically eye-impaled on a firepoker. 
No wonder why some people hate the holidays.
Little Derek (the toy soldier from Demonic Toys, boo yah!) catches the kid from Scrooged’s disease wherein such a traumatic event has left him mute. Newly single mom Sarah does what she can to cheer up her kid, even going so far as to take him to the local toy shop run by Joe Petto (get it? really, do you?) and his awkward teenage son.
Oh, and Joe is played by The Manipulator himself, Mickey Rooney.

Meanwhile, a self-inflicted mysterious man named Noah enters the picture, buying Petto’s toys and conducting Jack Skellington-like experiments to trace their evil. Sure, he also causes the death of his landlord and terrifies Derek with an awful mall Santa gig, but since he’s the best looking male onscreen, we can at least count on his wavy brown locks to see us and our women and children through to the end.
There are, of course, a few California Christmas-related side notes. Neith Hunter, who savvy viewers may remember as the bewitched lead in SIlent Night Deadly Night 4, pops in as Sarah’s neighbor, occasionally offering knowing remarks with hints to how “You would not believe the things I’ve been through.” This comes right before her bratty baggy pants wearing teen son nearly explodes from some mischievous roller blades, which is slightly fabulous. Even Clint Howard stops by in an all-too brief cameo. Also of note is a horny couple that proves why parents should simply never hire teenage babysitters and why horny babysitters should never expect to survive an evening of consummated affection.

High Points
For a movie that was clearly heading straight to video, you reallly have to admire the playful score, which subtly calls up fitting musical themes for its death scenes, including an Egyptian-style toot for a snake kill and an almost Psycho-esque staccato for a water pistol shooting
The full reveal of the main villain is nicely bizarre and rather icky
Low Points
Perhaps it was some budgetary restraints, but there's something about this film that feels so ...small. Aside from a handful of main characters, we never see the killer toys cause any real mayhem on strangers. Even the fact that Noah has a connection to Sarah and Derek, and yet also *happens* to be investigating Joe Petto is in itself a seemingly easy way to keep costs low by confining all conflict to our leads.

Lessons Learned
It's perfectly normal for a child to never speak again after witnessing the horrific and bizarre death of his father

Not all kids are asking for Larry the Larvae crawling toys, especially when they're known to cause fatal car accidents

In the 1990s, California shopping malls employed one dozen workers at a time to man the Santa/Elf station
It’s a shame Silent Night, Deadly Night 5 doesn’t have any special features, as it’s a surprisingly interesting little Christmas movie and easily one of the best of its series. Sure, that’s not saying a whole lot when your biggest competition is Garbage Day!, but The Toymaker is a strange watch, filled with passable performances and some groovy kills. 


  1. Mickey Rooney?

    And I had no idea Silent Night, Deadly night had so many installments.

  2. See, I quite enjoyed #3 - I thought having a blind lead was an interesting choice, and Bill Moseley is always massively watchable.

    Of course, it's nothing compared to 4 and 5. After the sheer bonkersness of 4 (possibly my favourite), I was pleasantly surprised that 5 decided to go in a somewhat different direction instead of just rehashing.

    The particular scene that stands out for me is Pino humping away at the mother while screaming about his love for her. So much what-the-fuckery it's impossible not to enjoy. And in all honesty, the inclusion of robots took me by complete surprise. It's a shame there weren't any follow ups, this series had so much potential. Alas.

  3. Liam, I completely agree that this franchise had more life in it. Part 5 was just so lovingly bizarre, and the revelation of Pino's body/Oedipal leanings was simply fabulous. I kind of dug the Halloween III, take each film on its own direction the series took with 4 & 5, but I guess it didn't connect enough with an audience to keep going. I found 3 to have a lot of potential but to ultimately be the dullest of all 5, but Mosely is a great find there.

    Andrew: Parts 3-5 are now available in a DVD collection (I got mine for about $15 last year). 1 & 2 remain unreleased, but some detective work should yield the joy of garbage day. I highly recommend catching 4 & 5, two genuinely different early 90s xmas horror.

  4. To this day, still the only installment I have been lucky or unlucky (depending on the point-of-view) not to see. Maybe I will try to run the gauntlet this year and watch every installment. That should be a real "garbage day".

  5. Unlucky! Start backwards this year to ensure Rooney goodness!

  6. Why couldn`t you have shown a picture of Mickey Rooney with a little girl?, then he would`ve been heterosexual instead of a bloody dirty faggot.

  7. Well I apologize for tarnishing your image of Mickey Rooney. Perhaps you'll be cleansed with a viewing of his horrifically racist performance in Breakfast At Tiffany's?

  8. Emily, my last com-girl-t here was left to provide you with some Christmas laughter, why did you delete it?.

  9. Believe it or not (it's Christmas so you should) I never deleted your comment. It appeared in my email. When I went over to comment on it, it was gone. Blame the Internet fairies or those who really do think Mickey Rooney was at his worst in Breakfast At Tiffany's.

    And of course, merry xmas!

  10. You mean i`ve got to write the whole bloody sodding thing again, O.K. here goes. I dont give a hoot in hell about the other aspects of his personality (either in real life or as a character he played in some fag movie from 1961) all that matters to me is that he is rampantly heterosexual, thats all that ever matters. By the way, with regards to the fag movie, i want to bugger Audrey Hepburn (as she was in 1947 when she was 18, not as she is now obviously, which is dead). One last item, read the com-girl-ts sections over on "Soiled Sinemas" reveiws of "A Christmas Story" and "Killer Klowns From Outer Space" for some more similar hilarious com-girl-ts on the same subject, you`ll fall about laughing when you read them, Merry Christmas sexpot.

  11. Emily, you still haven`t responded, i`m waiting darlin`, for instance, did those com-girl-ts make you laugh?.

  12. You seem strangely determined not to respond on this one Emily, i wonder why?.

  13. I know it's pretty baffling to believe, but sometimes I have better things to do than comment on a reply about someone's hatred for homosexuality. Shocking, I know, but sometimes I have alternate hobbies, like feeding my cats, alphabetizing DVDs, or watching paint dry.

  14. Yes Emily, i understand, but i was wondering more specifically about w-HEATHER those com-girl-ts over at "Soiled Sinema" made you laugh or not?.

  15. Emily, when you said "Yes, they are lovely." i sensed slight sarcasm and even boredom. Why cant you accept that i just want to provide you with endless laughter, wittisisms, enlighten-girl-t, entertain-girl-t and education about the bizarre, surreal, idiotic, hideously sexually repressed and in girl-l ways totally unfathomable society that we unfortunately have to live in, thats how much i fancy you darlin`.