Ask horror fans what their favorite Christmas-themed horror flick is and they'll maybe tell you Gremlins or Black Christmas, but they'll definitely mention Silent Night, Deadly Night. The first film is a classic that shocked audiences with its audacity when it was first released in 1984. A killer Santa? Who would besmirch the name of out most beloved holiday icon that way? Oh the pearls that were clutched.
These days we get horror flicks like A Serbian Film and The Human Centipede, so it leaves us to wonder what on Earth will be shocking in the future. That said, the SN,DN franchise did not spawn anything of note after its killer debut. Just more tame, run of the mill slasher fare that made the '80s a blur of axe murders.
Until we came to Part 5, where everything becomes amazing again! First off, it stars Mickey Rooney as the new murderous Santa Claus. That would be breathtakingly wrong even just on its own, but considering that Rooney actually wrote a letter of protest against the first film it makes it just perfect. Either the lure of Christmas horror money was too great for Rooney, or Part 5 is so wonderful it made him forget his original objections.
These five scenes prove it's the latter.
This is Derek... he's the closest thing we have to a hero in the film. Note that expression on his face, because approximately ten percent of the movie is spent looking at that expression. What causes such an odd combination of disgust, confusion, and excitement? Mostly watching his parents have sex... and other people have sex. Basically Derek's entire 6-year-old motivation in life is to get up in the middle of the night and do the Creep at the foot of someone's bed.
Right before they die. Speaking of which...
Evil toy deaths are a seriously underrated method in horror movies. It's Child's Play and Charles Band films and that's pretty much it. Given that the battle scene in Toys is one of my favorite moments in movies ever, I like to pretend that this inventive murder by rubber snake and Army Men was the logical result of teaching playthings the joy of killing.
Oh, and watching a creepy, unattached plastic arm fondle someone's breast without anyone being aware that that's what going on will never not be funny.
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After Derek realizes that he's being sent murderous toys randomly he decodes to get rid of his latest present, a pair of rollerblades. If you're under 30 years old I'm not sure I can adequately explain what this scene means. Roller blades might as well have been the sandals of Mercury himself. The idea of throwing them away, even if they could kill you, was as shocking an act as watching Thing touch that dude's butt in the last scene before strangling him. It never surprised me that rollerblades would be seen as the hallmark of a dystopian ruling elite in other, more sacred films.
So Derek throws out his blades, and some random white kid who had watched way too many rap videos at that point in his life takes them out of the garbage. Suddenly, sparks fly and the kid turns right into a flailing, badly-dressed Brian Boitano until a speeding car cuts him down.
He doesn't die because this was the tail end of horror movies still pretending to be fairytales with happy endings, even when the ending to this fairytale is horrifying as you will see.
A lot of what I've told you about can actually be seen in the trailer of SNDN 5 because, well, the rest of the film is dead-eyed "acting" and almost-boobs. One thing that must be called attention to is the genius that is Brian Bremer as Pino.
Much like your Christopher Walkens and your Dennis Hoppers, Bremer did not let the fact that he was stuck in a going-nowhere horror franchise slow him down in the slightest. If you stay to the end of that trailer you will see him throw down an insanely passionate and sincere bout of thespian smackdown as he pleads to be accepted as Derek's replacement as Sarah's son. I'm not joking. It's an inspired scene. Until...
I cannot be clear enough on how this entire film is someone working through a very, very bad Oedipus Complex. Pino reveals that not only is he behind the plot to kill Derek and take his place, but that he is actually an android. Then, he proceeds to dry-hump Sarah while screaming, "I love you, Mommy. I LOVE YOU!" at the absolute top of his robot lungs.
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You could write an entire textbook on what these 30 seconds of dry-humping actually say about concepts like the fear of emasculation, the need for parental approval, the dangers of sexual abuse, and the nature of rape as an instrument of power over the victim. You could stare deep into the tortured eyes of Bremer as he ineffectively tries to thrust his way into making his plastic existence matter.
Or you could laugh like a loon while a whiny-voiced Ken doll tried to bone its mommy-figure while utterly ill-equipped to do so. On Christmas. Man, I love this movie!
Available on Amazon.