The title of this week’s episode of The Walking Dead is “Still.” Still alive. Still surviving in a world that is still dangerous. A still moment trapped inside the trunk of a car. A moonshine still as a source of cathartic release for a character that has people wondering, “why is she still on the show?” An episode that highlights that even though this diverse cast of characters is living in a dark new day, they are still trapped with the preconceptions of their previous lives. All their wants, needs, wishes, and desires bleed through into their zombie apocalyptic lives.
An equally apt title for the episode would be “Haves & Have-Nots.” The driving motivations of Beth and Darryl are towards things that they have been deprived of, not just in the Land of the Dead, but in their lives before that. Beth’s desires a drink. She’s never had one before, and even though she knows how it tainted her father’s life, she wants something to take her mind away from the pain of losing Hershel and (presumably) Maggie. Darryl’s desires are multiple but mostly left unstated. He picks up a purse and fills it with money and jewelry. These things have no meaning in their current predicament, but the desire for wealth is a holdover from his previous life. We learn that before the dead walked he was just a drifter, mostly following the whims of his older brother Merle. While a viewer may have previously felt that Darryl finally metaphorically stepped out of his brother’s shadow in the last season, when he put down Zombie Merle, this is clearly not the case. Truthfully, Darryl has been accepted as an integral member of the group, as Rick, Carol, Beth and all the others accept him. Still, he feels that he didn’t do enough to prevent the Governor from attacking the prison again.
The haves and have-nots are illustrated by the two locations used in this episode. The majority of the zombie action takes place at a golf course country club, where Darryl takes out his repressed anger on a roomful of walkers. The distinction between low class and high class is not subtle. Darryl in his tattered leather vest is almost in worse shape than these zombies in their brightly colored polo and collared shirts. Beth changes into a white cardigan that quickly gets covered with gore. Darryl might insist that she’s just an insulated college-girl — the carefree singer of the group — but Beth’s survival instinct has been newly asserted. Nice clothes don’t matter when you’re dead. Survival is the only thing that matters.
Of course, it’s always nice to have a drink too. Beth and Darryl escape the country club and arrive somewhere that symbolizes where Darryl came from in the world before. It’s a run-down shack out in the woods. Something like his old man used to have. Something familiar. But this familiarity breeds a discontent in Darryl. Beth goads him into drinking with her, and that opens up his perception of the have/have-not gap. He is tired of dealing with every dangerous situation and having everyone depend on him. There is a tense moment when Darryl makes Beth look down the sights of his crossbow at a pinned walker, but Beth proves that even without bow skills, she can handle herself by braining the zed.
They get the bright idea to burn down the shack. It is not a logical one considering the danger of not having shelter, but it is fitting of the characters and their personal progression through the series. Plus, Beth is in good hands being under the protection of who she says will be “the last man standing.” (On that she is probably not wrong. Not because he is so equipped to survive, but because of his popularity, particularly among the female fans of the show.)
Geek of the Week
This one is not a walker, but a corpse. The torso stuck onto mannequin legs was pretty damn cool. Plus, it really drives home the distinction between the haves and the have-nots. I doubt that she was killed because she was well off, but someone, obviously in disdain, took the energy to construct this effigy against rich bitches.
- It looks like next week will continue with Beth and Darryl and expand the show’s POV to Maggie, Bob, and Shasha whom we haven’t seen since the return episode. Also, Beth is in danger, and with all of her good feely moralizing in this episode it wouldn’t surprise me to see her get bitten.
- I liked the bit of hiding in the car. That and the random shack in the woods reminded me of a great, recent zombie flick called The Battery. It is a low budget but compelling character piece with only two main characters. And they spend a lot of time at a woods in a shack and stuck in a car.
- How long do you think a zombie would hang before the rope finally cuts clear through the neck? A dead body would probably hang for a pretty long time. But I imagine that the friction caused by all of their undead movement would slowly cause the rope to saw through dead flesh. We’ve already seen hanging walkers before in season two. Let’s see some headless bodies and scattered heads underneath empty nooses!
- Norman Reedus and Emily Kinney put on some of the finest acting since Andrew Lincoln’s Rick lost his wife last season. It is not surprising to see how Reedus has given his character such longevity, but who would have thought that the whiny suicidal girl from the farmhouse would have stuck around for so long?
- Peach schnapps really would be a shit first drink.
That’s it for this week. Thanks for reading!
Well, I missed posting up a timely review of last week’s episode of The Walking Dead, “Inmates,” so I will briefly touch on that before I delve into last night’s episode “Claimed.”
“Inmates,” in two words:
OK, I’ll explain my disdain in more than two words.
Glenn’s use of a molotov cocktail on a previously destroyed automobile to lure away walkers in a direct line of sight from him, is an incredible leap of logic. It’s the part I took away “Inmates,” more than the awesome introduction of Abraham, Rosita, & Eugene, more than my annoyance of the bus full of red-shirts being conveniently slaughtered, more than Carol’s uneasy return to the show. Again, Glenn used a molotov cocktail to cause a distraction that lured a zombie to turn away from him and go towards a burning car. This is the sort of thing I expect in an Asylum zombie film, but not in America’s most beloved zombie television series!
Other than his usage of burning brandy, I wasn’t bothered by Glenn uniting with Tara to escape the ruin of the prison. Glenn raiding the prison cells for supplies and donning the riot gear was the smartest thing (outside of wearing zombie guts) he could have done to aid his escape. Of course, it is a bit of a stretch of belief to think that he didn’t just die (you know, from the flu superbug that got everyone else on the bus) while lying just out of reach of the walkers, but I digress.
“Inmates” started with Beth and Darryl escaping through the woods while Beth has a voice-over of words written in her diary. I’m actually less annoyed by Beth than other commentators. I’m glad that she has stuck around, even if her character shift (being the one to push Darryl to keep going) seems a bit forced since she was just suicidal 2 seasons ago. Still, I think she is a more interesting character than her sister Maggie, although I will admit that she’s probably more expendable. Hopefully this added screen importance will lead to her having an awesome death. Darryl in this episode doesn’t do much, besides tracking and kicking dirt on a fire.
As an aside, okay, I get that it is a necessity to build a fire. But, lets say you are in a zombie apocalypse situation. Nightfall comes. You’re in the woods. How do you best ensure your survival for the night? Sulking about next to the campfire, or perched up high in a tree and out of the reach of hungry hands? Hmm . . .
Elsewhere in the woods Tyreese has become primary caretaker of the children, Mika, Lizzie, and Baby Judith! Hooray, Shane’s baby is still alive. (Although we still have to sit through the Grimes’ grieving process.) Now, I’m not surprised that the baby wasn’t killed. Maybe if this show was on HBO, but I don’t think that AMC has the cajones to kill a baby, either on-screen or off. Although, it obviously doesn’t mind killing off the red-shirted children. Do you remember Young Mop Head and Hairband Girl?
Neither Tyreese, nor Mika, nor the psychopathic Lizzie seem to be grieving for them. Perhaps Lizzie smothered them on their way out of the prison. Lizzie could very well be my new favorite character. She is certainly the most interesting, and you can’t fault her methods (quiet the baby!) for being ineffective. If you’ve read the comics then — SPOILER — I’d put her in the role of the murderous Ben/Billy twin. Only, instead of Carl putting her down, my money would be on Carol. Oh the conflict, oh the drama! — END COMICS SPOILER.
Fortunately for the unawares Grimes family, (and the at home viewers), Carol’s hand-of-God return into the story prevents the death of Baby Judith at the hands of Lizzie, as well as Lizzie & Mika’s death at the hands of walkers. There was tense moment as Carol assesses Tyreese who doesn’t actually know of the hideous act of mercy that she had committed. Not that it should really matter at this point. Did Tyreese’s girlfriend even have a name? If not, she wouldn’t have made it this far anyway.
The other group of stragglers is Maggie, Bob, and Sasha, in this episode representing EMOTION, ACCEPTANCE, & RATIONALITY. Maggie is driven to find Glenn, Bob the Alcoholic Combat Medic shot through the shoulder is cool with dying on a nice rock near the water, and Sasha is the only person who seems to still have her head on her shoulders and tries to regroup and rest up. Emotion wins out and they hunt down the bus, where Maggie kills a bunch of walkers that aren’t her husband. There was a bit of iffy acting as she killed the last zombie on the bus (whose face we don’t see). She seems to convey a range of emotions from happy to despondent, but none of them give a firm indication that she didn’t just off Glenn. Until after the commercial break . . .
At the end of the episode Glenn passes out and Tara is saved by a very badass-looking Sergeant Abraham Ford, his hotpants wearing Latina girlfriend (okay, well, just really like fuckbuddy in the comics) Rosita Espinosa, and the mulleted ‘Dr.’ Eugene Porter. It’s nice to have some fresh faces in the show who have names and who will actually do something!
That’s probably enough about “Inmates,” but before I go on, I want to bitch about red-shirts some more.
Darryl finds some footprints, to which Beth says, “Could be Luke’s, or Molly’s. Whoever they are it means they’re alive.” Darryl responds by saying it means they were alive four or five hours previously (classic Darryl). Now, as an astute viewer, I searched back in my memory to a Luke or a Molly. Couldn’t picture anyone. It took me a bit of Wikipedia sleuthing to deduce that Luke and Molly are Young Mop Head and Hairband Girl. Now, I’m a fan of this show. But I sure as hell don’t think that I should have to look up a character name in order to figure out who is being talked about. Beth could easily have dropped the names Lizzie or Mika, but by mentioning the other two she pulled me out of the narrative. Especially when neither Luke nor Molly actually show up! Maybe they are dead, but then again, we didn’t see them die onscreen, and following Walking Dead logic that means they could still be alive. Tyreese or the other two girls never indicate that they were separated from the others. They never mention that Luke & Molly got eaten either. They are just gone.
Goodbye Luke and/or Molly.
Here is the other thing that I want to mention. There is a walker that attacks and is killed by Beth. He is obviously fresh, although neither Beth, nor Darryl seem to know this recently deceased individual. This show isn’t smart enough to do a metacommentary about its shitty use of red-shirts, although I admit that I had to stop and consider for a moment. Who is he?
Later on, in a moment that happened before he turned, Tyreese, Carol & the kids stumble upon this hapless bitten individual. Turns out he was from a separate group, trying to go up the railroad tracks to the safety of ‘The Sanctuary.” Well, he doesn’t call it that, but for the sake of a better term, I will. This guy is someone completely new. Yet, because of how all of the other new characters have been mishandled, I have no idea who the fuck he is! In fact, because of the poorly fleshed out background characters, and the fact that Beth & Darryl are following them, I thought they were just unnamed prison people. But no . . .
All these nameless folks though, they were good people.
Which brings us to this week’s episode, “Claimed,” which focuses on the groups of Rick, Carl, & Michonne, and Glenn, Tara, Abraham, Rosita, & Eugene. But, actually, fuck it . . . I’ll just write up my thoughts on that episode tomorrow since it’s late and my other recap ran long. Stay frosty folks!
Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in!
I’m a bit rusty, but fortunately this episode was light on the complicated plot points. This episode follows Rick and Carl as they flee from the zombie madness that the prison became. We also follow America’s favorite scowling samurai Michonne as she gets some new zombie pets and also flees. Joy!
He is the least consequential character in this episode, as he fights a bit with Carl, fails to fully hatchet a zed in the head, and eventually passes out for a day-and-a-half. There was a brief is-he-or-isn’t-he-a-walker scare, but readers of the comic knew that he would pull through. The mid-season finale had a few iconic shots that were lifted from the comic books, but this entire episode was a bit of a self-contained arc in the comic as well. The dynamic between Rick and Carl works here too, but I felt that it was actually a bit better in the comics as Carl was then still his young child-like self.
The zombie apocalypse only exacerbates teenage angst. Rather than just idiotically running around the woods and taunting zombies, Carl is now cockily and idiotically running around the woods and killing zombies. It is interesting how he has turned survival into a sort of game, proclaiming, “I win,” when he scavenges more food than his father, as well as when he narrowly manages to kill 3 zeds that fall on top of him. If this show wouldn’t completely fall apart without the kid I’d have a bit more suspended disbelief, but I just can’t believe that AMC would kill off Carl and leave Rick a widower and childless. I wonder if Carl will bring up Shane again, or if he has got all of this rebelliousness out of his system.
Rounding out this episode is a bit of character development (about a season & a half too late) for the sword-wielding badass of the group. The best, and most confusing, shot of this episode was the dreamlike (well, actual dream!) scene involving Michonne remembering her brother and lover, before her child Peanut runs up and jumps into her arms. Sadly, Michonne seemed just as awkward in this scene as the other times she tries to not be a badass. Establishing her missing family members at this point seems a bit too late to be genuine. But, I suppose it explains why exactly she has been so reluctant to form any sort of bond with the last few people living in Georgia. Also, she killed Walker Hershel.
Geek of the Week
Which brings us to this episode’s most memorable zombie. It has to be Hershel for me. He looks a bit despondent lying there on the ground, but Michonne mercifully puts him out of his misery. Unfortunately, she isn’t kind enough to do that for any of the other dozens of walkers she beheads in this episode.
Michonne leading around two walkers on a leash was a very cool introduction to the character in the comic book. Here it just seems a bit silly, especially when it is established that her previous two pets were known to her in her real, before the end of the world life. Theoretically it would make up for them being just two random walkers and I would also assume that it took a while for them to calm down to the always present meal before them. But here she was able to de-jaw and de-arm two zombies and tame them in the space of a commercial break. I guess my main question is this: why the hell aren’t they still trying to gnaw on her with their top incisors?
In the next episode I predict more of the same. It will be a lot like this one, only focusing on different characters. Will Glen and Maggie reunite? Will the psychotic children get to Tyreese? Will the Governor’s lover and her sister reappear? Will Beth sing a sad song? Will Darryl eat a squirrel? But, the most important question is this: will a busfull of redshirts all namelessly die? Find out next week’s episode, “Inmates.”
The Twelve Slays of Christmas 2013
For the eleventh Slay of Christmas, this genre gave to me, sleigh-vans-a-flying, ten vids-a-streaming, Santa’s assassin, crazy dancing eyebrows, Santa vs. Zombies, the anti-Santa Nackles, BILL GOLDBERG!, four creepy songs, Tales from the Crypt, Santa’s demon Krampus, and a scream queen hanging free!
Welcome back to the holiday horror list that I’ve been checking twice. Today’s pick is 1980’s Christmas Evil starring Brandon Maggart (note the misspelling in the print ad above) as the quintessential disturbed man in love with Christmas. Harry Stralding is a man with a fragile psyche. He’s been that way ever since Christmas Eve 1947 when he walked in on his mom and Santa Claus in the midst of some uncharacteristically festive activities. Although the film has established that Santa is just their father in costume (Harry disbelieves this when told by his younger brother Philip, later played by Jeffrey DeMunn), Harry’s glimpse of this encounter causes him to snap. He breaks a snowglobe and in a fit of rage uses it to cut a gash into his hand.
Years later, Harry is still a man with a rather fragile psyche. He works as a middle-manager of a toy factory, but feels dismayed when his coworkers don’t share his same admiration for the Christmas Spirit. Harry lives and breathes Santa Claus — his apartment is packed with red-and-white memorabilia, and he playfully gives himself a white shaving cream beard before shaving in the morning. This is all well and good, but his obsession has a much more sinister manifestation: he’s been spying on the children in his neighborhood. He’s been taking notes in his books of nice and naughty little boys and girls. Harry is pleased to see one boy taking out the garbage for his family, but another perusing a Penthouse magazine only takes Harry one step closer to the edge.
Where will his murderous rampage take him when he finally breaks and decides it is time to punish the bad people of the world? You’ll have to check out my guest appearance on The Phantom Erik‘s 100 Years of Horror podcast to find out!
The 100 Years of Horror is one of the finest horror film podcasts out their as Erik always thoroughly researches his films and covers each picture’s place in the history of the horror genre. Listen in as we discuss, not just the plot of Christmas Evil, but also how it relates to the battle between consumerism vs. traditionalism, what it says about the role of family and mental health issues, and where this film falls in the ranks of other holiday horrors such as Silent Night, Deadly Night, Santa’s Slay, and Santa vs. the Zombies (bleeeh . . .). We also manage to compare it to It’s a Wonderful Life, Psycho, and Maniac! Please have a listen to this excellent podcast by clicking HERE.
Christmas Evil, directed by Lewis Jackson, unfairly gets lumped into the slasher flick pantheon of the 1980s. Truthfully though, this is a character study of a man brought to (and past) his breaking point. This ain’t a body-count film, but it is a well-crafted picture portraying one man’s mental breakdown. Or, a closer inspection may reveal that Harry Stradling, vehemently clinging to the lovely essence of Christmas, is sane, while all of us, disregarding peace on earth and good will towards men, are the crazy ones.
Merry Christmas Eve! I’ll be back tomorrow for one last goodie, but until then, feast your eyes on these posters.
The Twelve Slays of Christmas 2013
For the tenth Slay of Christmas, this genre gave to me, ten vids-a-streaming, Santa’s assassin, crazy dancing eyebrows, Santa vs. Zombies, the anti-Santa Nackles, BILL GOLDBERG!, four creepy songs, Tales from the Crypt, Santa’s demon Krampus, and a scream queen hanging free!
Hopefully my previous slays have gotten you into the horror holiday mood, but if not you are in for a treat today. That’s right, this Axe-Wielding Santa is early for you good boys and girls and I come bearing the gifts of 10 short horrific films. Now, I’ve dug really deep into the pile this year to ensure that you don’t just get all of the same as previous seasonal holiday lists on other sites. But I will admit that there are a few chillers here that I found listed elsewhere that I didn’t want to leave off. Some of the flicks are animated. Some are claymation. Some are obviously amateurish (but still a good deal better than Santa vs. the Zombies, yeech). These yuletide treats were made with love, and I hope you enjoy them just as much as I do.
Honorable mention: there is an excellent 7 minute short film that served as the precursor to Rare Exports. I don’t want to spoil the movie for those that haven’t seen it, but I do want to say that this is a very respectable short that covers the exact same material from the film. If you’ve seen the full-length Rare Exports then the shorter version is interesting to view to see a much more condensed version of the idea!
#1 The Winter Stalker
(these are in a mostly arbitrary order)
The 1980 film Christmas Evil (come back tomorrow for a longer review) details just how creepy it is for a middle-aged man to spy on children (both nice and naughty). Here is a short film written and directed by Stephen Reedy that distills the idea of becoming the target of a Santa Claus stalker.
#2 My Name is Kris Kringle
This one takes things a step further from just stalking children, as Santa is hauled into the police station after hacking up a few naughties with a meat cleaver. It isn’t until after explaining that he is simply following the orders on his list, that the full enormity of the situation comes to light. This very dark tale was written and directed by Drew Daywalt.
#3 I Still Believe
In this claymation short we can see a despondent Santa inches away from simply giving up. He hasn’t wandered into creepy stalker/killer territory yet, but it is very clear that this Old Saint Nick is far from jolly. Then he gets a visit that is simply out of this world. Can extraterrestrials get Santa Claus back into the Christmas spirit? This short was animated by the artist Mr. Oz.
#4 Night of the Living Santa
This darkly humorous cartoon was made by Michael Friedman for aniBOOM. Again, we find a depressed Santa, and see exactly what happens when he gives up. This is probably the most funny pick on the list, as the elves use the Christmas Necronomicon to bring Kris Kringle back from the dead. As you can imagine, an undead Santa would prefer brains over cookies on Christmas Eve!
#5 Vampire Santa
Following the idea of a zombie Santa is this one where Santa Claus is a vampire (possibly?). This is an episode of a show called Boss Hospital by Raym Hensley, which appears to be a little know gem of comedic weirdness. It’s a 2 and a half minute strange non-sequitur, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t say I enjoyed this. Hopefully you will too as you find yourself repeating “Merry Christ’s Mass” in a few days time.
#6 Elf on the Shelf
Elf on the Shelf is a recent holiday tradition, but a strange one none-the-less. Santa has enlisted the help of these stone-faced smiling creeps the world over to watch over kids and ensure that they stay good during the holiday season. As Child’s Play, The Puppet Master, or more recently, The Conjuring, have shown us, dolls are inherently off-putting. But when imbued with magical powers they become all the more unsettling. There are several weird Elf on the Shelf videos online, but this one is the most effective.
#7 Christmas Morning
Here is an amateur film that has to be, technically speaking, one of the best. It doesn’t suffer from shaky cam, the special effects aren’t too bad, and the song featured is actually pretty funny. The girl lip-synching is a bit off at times, but that doesn’t take too much away from the video’s effectiveness. It was directed by Ryan Richardson and seemingly only featured his family members. I’d be interesting to see what he could put together with more of a budget.
#8 Little Cracker
Well, let’s say you’re a child, and your parents are murdered on Christmas. If you’re not lucky enough to have a grandma to live with, then probably you’d end up in an orphanage. Orphanages never seem to be especially happy places, but as Silent Night, Deadly Night, and this short film (and the following one) show us, they can really be deadly during the holidays. In Little Cracker, director Paul Mayers does a lot with very little to craft a story about an orphan boy who just isn’t right.
#9 The Bottleberry Orphans
This is a creepy poem about another deadly Christmas at the orphanage. The imagery used in the video is great, and the poem is off-putting. Lyrically it doesn’t rhyme, but that adds to its unsettling effectiveness. Unfortunately, this poem is not spoken, so you’ll have to read along with a spooky rendition of Silent Night, Holy Night in the background.
#10 976-Evil 2
My last pick for this holiday themed list of scary shorts comes from the full-length 976-Evil 2. The movie itself is largely unmemorable, but this mash-up of Night of the Living Dead and It’s a Wonderful Life is an excellent way to spice up that annual showing of Jimmy Stewart’s tale of angelic redemption. Just beware of Zuzu’s trowel.
So holiday horror hounds, cuddle up close to the fireplace and try to keep warm while watching these chillers!
The Twelve Slays of Christmas 2013
For the ninth Slay of Christmas, this genre gave to me, Santa’s assassin, crazy dancing eyebrows, Santa vs. Zombies, the anti-Santa Nackles, BILL GOLDBERG!, four creepy songs, Tales from the Crypt, Santa’s demon Krampus, and a scream queen hanging free!
Welcome back to the list espouse all of the ho ho horror this holiday season. Today’s pick sees a return to the realm of audio fiction as the latest episode of Drabblecast contains a short story featuring Santa Claus squaring off against a hitman. In Michael Marshall Smith‘s Unbelief the naughtiest of acts is commissioned for a professional assassin. This self-proclaimed family man killer has been hired by a syndicate to off Jolly Old Saint Nick, but outside of the money, he says that it is personal. What is the horror he holds from his childhood that makes him despise Santa so? In a surprisingly tense story, this cold-hearted man struggles with what he claims to be the arbitrary moral codes upheld by the mythical Kris Kringle. In this story, he faces up to the true meaning of Christmas, and how his profession has left him cold and dead inside.
This is an excellent piece and quite a dark departure from the cheesy stuff elsewhere exhibited in this list. Drabblecast is a podcast that delivers strange stories, by strange authors, for strange listeners. If you’ve enjoyed the rest of the stuff in my list of X-mas Slays, then you’re sure to enjoy Drabblecast. Check out the latest episode by clicking HERE.
In addition to Michael Marshall Smith’s story, the host of Drabblecast, Norm Sherman, chats about the 13 trolls of Christmas, the Yule Lads of Icelandic lore. The Yule Lads are riffs of the traditional Santa Claus, but with much weirder names, such as Meat-Hook, Spoon-Licker, and Window Peeper. These guys don’t have the same demonic bent as Krampus, but they are definitely strange, as if you are a naughty child, then you’ll be left a rotten potato as a gift. In the Drabblecast, Mr. Sherman sings a familiar holiday tune with updated Yule Lad lyrics. It’s hilarious! So, if you’ll looking for a piece of darkness that is both grim and gelastic, check out the Drabblecast.
Until tomorrow, look out for rotten potatoes in your stockings!
The Twelve Slays of Christmas 2013
For the eighth slay of Christmas, this genre gave to me, crazy dancing eyebrows, Santa vs. Zombies, the anti-Santa Nackles, BILL GOLDBERG!, four creepy songs, Tales from the Crypt, Santa’s demon Krampus, and a scream queen hanging free!
After taking a day to recover from the seventh slay of Christmas — the horror that was Santa vs. The Zombies, bourbon, and an open mic — the list has returned with the Yuletide Schlock Classic that is Silent Night, Deadly Night 2!
If you haven’t seen the first Silent Night, Deadly Night film, don’t fret, because the first 40 minutes of this sequel recaps the entire previous movie. All of the kills. Both psycho Santas. The gratuitous sexy bits. All of the gore and none of the goodness! It really is quite amazing how they were able to include just about everything of importance from the first movie — minus the crazy grandpa and the working-at-a-toy-store montage. Then there is another 40 minutes or so of new stuff that is less rushed, less focused, and more crazy than everything from the previous film. (There is an excellent write-up on FEARnet that tells how the producers actually just wanted the editor/director Lee Harry to recut the first movie into something entirely new and different, but fortunately for us fans of terrible cinema, they were able to add some new stuff into the mix.
I won’t go into everything that Psycho Billy did in SNDN1, but I will say that Psycho Ricky tops anything his brother did in his night of mayhem, simply due to actor Eric Freeman’s outrageous portrayal. The story is like this: Ricky has followed in the genetic footsteps of his brother, and like his grandfather, has ended up in some sort of mental hospital for the criminally insane. On Christmas Eve, he is visited by a psychiatrist to be interviewed about his past transgressions. After retelling Billy’s story, Ricky gets into it about how he was adopted by a nice Jewish couple — from a Catholic orphanage — who seemingly shielded him from the horrors of Santa during his childhood. This doesn’t last too long however, as a chance encounter with two nuns and a thick red cloth set off all of his old memories. From this time forward, he gets set off whenever he encounters a tense situation along with the color red.
His first kill is to a would-be rapist, who he runs over with a red Jeep. Later, after growing up a bit, he kills an extortionist in a back-alley (with an umbrella through the belly) because he had a red handkerchief and needed to be punished. He kills an annoying guy wearing a red shirt in the world’s most brightly lit movie theater. He kills his girlfriend’s ex with a car battery jumper cable to the tongue. You guessed it — the car was red. Unfortunately, this is the tipping point for young Ricky, because he then proceeds to kill everyone else in the nearby vicinity. His girlfriend gets it, because she freaked out about her ex’s death and also needed to be punished. This probably wasn’t the reaction Ricky was expecting since the woman whose attempted raper he killed thanked Ricky.
He then kills Barney Fife whose firearm lets Ricky continue his shooting spree, killing a football player, a poor soul casually taking out his garbage (despite gunshots in the neighborhood), and an explosion-prone red car. However, he does not kill the little girl with a red bow in her hair riding her tricycle around an urban warzone. She wasn’t naughty enough. The most senseless of these kills — the man acting out a simple garbage day routine — has since been immortalized in this oft seen clip:
The viewer get a bit of Eric Freeman’s dancing eyebrows in that clip as well!
Eventually the cops — better armed and less idiotic than before — catch up to Ricky, but they are more concerned about him foolishly throwing his life away with the revolver at his temple than trying to put down this spree killer. Afterwards Ricky ends up behind bars where doctor #13 has just finished with his interview. He’s finished also finished with his life, as Ricky has claimed another victim by strangling the doctor with his own audio tape. After making an off-screen escape through the orderlies, Ricky finds and kills a Santa Claus, relieving the poor guy of his suit, and makes after Old Mother Superior.
Ricky sets off to finish what his older brother couldn’t accomplish. While Ricky goes after the old wicked nun, the nun accompanying the police, Sister Mary, informs them that Mother Superior has retired, lives alone, and has had a stroke. Judging by her face, she must have had that stroke next to an open fireplace. Ricky easily finds her, and the cat-and-mouse games begin between the Psycho Santa Brother and the world’s strongest nun confined to a wheelchair.
I don’t want to spoil things if you haven’t already seen it, but suffice it to say, you’ll hear some great lines before the closing credits start. Here are some of my other favorites from Silent Night, Deadly Night 2:
I DON’T SLEEP! — Ricky, when asked if he has nightmares
You’re good Doc, but I know all the moves. I could squash you like a bug. — Ricky to the Doc
Fuck this! I’m getting a beer. But I’ll be back! — Attempted Rapist to woman after being kicked in the balls
Red car! Good point! — Ricky to the Doc after he writes this in his girly handwritten notebook
Sounded like some squirrel getting his nuts squeezed. — Ricky about a man being harassed by an extortionist
I’m really MAD now! — Ricky, after getting his axe stuck in Mother Superior’s wheelchair
Overall, Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 is not as good as the first one, but most slasher sequels aren’t. This film was less serious than the original, and much more fun overall. It is oozing with camp, and the first 40 minute recap can be pretty boring if you’ve recently watched part one. In terms of my list so far, this movie is miles ahead of Santa vs. the Zombies, but not quite as enjoyable as Santa’s Slay. Technically though, it is a fine film as the editing and music are both strong. Sadly, the atrocious acting (and those damn dancing eyebrows) puts this out of the realm of scary. This film is like that hideously designed, itchy sweater your great aunt made you that your mom makes you wear to the extended family X-mas get-together.
Until tomorrow, keep squirming in that sweater, and keep those eyebrows dancing!