Fear of Santa Claus Pt 5 (Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: the Toymaker, 1991)

sndn_5_posterOh boy.  I genuinely feel bad for Mickey Rooney having this in his resume.  On the other hand, the fact that he blasted the original film…well, it is kind of poetic.  Rooney is kindly elderly toy-maker Joe Petto.  Obviously, subtlety is not a priority for the film makers. Along with his son Pino (again, subtlety is a lost art), he runs a toy store. In case you missed it, there is a scene where a babysitter reads Pinocchio to a kid. His toys do not compete very well with the modern mass produced toys.  But the film is not really about them…

It is about young Derek and his Mother Sarah.  After a toy kills her husband, Derek stops talking, and he does not trust toys.  Sarah is doing her best with Derek, and is unaware she is being stalked by a guy who just got out of the military.  Don’t worry, he is actually Derek’s real father.  Meanwhile, high tech toys are killing people.

The reveal of the person behind the killer toys is really no surprise.  Although, the drive behind it is a bit…unique.  Pino really wants Sarah to be his mom.  This film continues the odd fascination with kids spying on people having sex.  I am starting to suspect the people behind this franchise have a real unhealthy fear of sex.  I mean, they just cannot avoid making a situation creepy.  He wants to kill Derek and take his place, except Pino sees loving Sarah like she was his real mother as…well…incest.

No, Silent Night, Deadly Night does not finally elevate the franchise…it just keeps getting worse.  About the only positive aspect is that the toy effects are good practical effects.  This is not all that surprising, as they were designed and created by master effects-man Screaming Mad George.  But it is not enough to make the film recommendable.  And Ron Howard’s brother Clint makes a brief appearance as Ricky…it is unclear if this is the same Ricky from the previous film.

An interesting side note, the director Martin Kitrosser appears to be the go to script supervisor for Quentin Tarantino.

Fear of Santa Claus Pt 4 (Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation, 1990)

sndn_4_posterThis fourth film is an old to good old fashioned man-hating feminism.  I kind of wonder if it was ghost written by Rush Limbaugh.  It is also the first film in the series to have no killer Santas.

Ambitious young reporter Kim is trying to break through the man’s world of investigative journalism.  She is researching a story about a young woman who lept from the roof of a building and burst into flames.  While investigating, she meets Octopussy.  Well, Fima, but she is played by Maud Adams.  Fima invites Kim to a special get together of her feminist book club.  Kim starts to have visions of worms and stuff.

The film is full of scenes where people espouse all sorts of basic caricatures of feminism and anti-feminism.  Kim talks like the version of feminism from a guy who did a quick google search on feminism.  Listen, I get that Google did not exist when the movie was made.  That is not the point.  There is no depth to the characters.  No deep motivation to their ideals and beliefs.

Kim finds that Fima and her friends are a witches coven that are trying to bring Kim into the fold for a winter sacrifice.  Ultimately, she cannot, because that sacrifice?  Involves killing a little boy, so she fights back.

Unlike the other films in the franchise, this is not a slasher.  Instead, this is more of a body horror film.  Not unlike Cronenberg, director Brian Yunza has an obsession with gruesome body deformations and changes.  The film is also heavily focused on bugs.  Because…bugs.

The effects are very strong, as created by the effects artist Screaming Mad George.

Clint Howard plays a homeless guy named Ricky, but it is unclear if he is the same Ricky as the previous two films.  He seems to be the “Weird Homeless Guy” the film needs to creep out Kim and is a servant to the witches.  Guess they needed a man after all.

The Pain Keeps the Hunger Away (Return of the Living Dead III, 1993)

rotld_3_posterThe third sequel in the franchise departs from the previous two films.  It is more horror and less comedic.  It has some macabre humor, but it is primarily about the gore this time around.

The story centers around a young man, the girl he loves and military experiments on zombies.  So, based on a true story. Curt and Julie are a passionate new couple.  Curt is way into Julie, who is way into morbid stuff.  Curt’s dad is a colonel who works with Colonel Peck (Played by Frazier’s Dad!) experimenting on zombies, trying to make them into fighting machines.  Curt decides to impress Julie by taking her to see the zombies.  As they flee the base, Julie is killed.  You can likely see where this is going.  After she is resurrected, she struggled to not give into the desire for brains, but constantly gives in, and creates more zombies.

This being a Yunza production (director of gruesome body horror films Society and Bride of Re-Animator) it is a gooey and gut filled affair.  When it comes to the central zombie and her victims, rather than be rotted corpses they are just grossly distorted.  Ripped out spines and the like.  In Julie’s case, she fight the hunger by extreme body piercing.  This results in her looking monstrous with claws and spikes.

The visuals are very good, with some really strong and scary makeup effects.  The film has little connection to the previous two films.  There is zero carryover, other than you have the military experimenting with zombies.  The tone is far more serious.  It is, really, Return of the Living Dead in name only.  On it’s own, it works, but when set in as part of a franchise, it seems less effective.

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