Sick of Christmas cheer? Then how about some Christmas FEAR! Luke Owen’s look back at the killer Santa franchise closes a review of the final installment before the remake – Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker…
What a difference a few years will make eh? When Silent Night, Deadly Night sent the hibbie-jibbies across the mothers of America leading to its subsequent ban, there was also an actor who voiced his concerns with a letter written to the producers calling them “scum”. That actor was the legendary Mickey Rooney – who would go on to star in Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker.
Guess money talks right?
The final movie of the ‘killer Santa’ franchise before the 2012 remake sees a young boy witness his father being murdered by a sadistic toy that was delivered to his house anonymously. Scared by what he has seen, he becomes a nervous wreck who refuses to talk which of course worries his mother. But that’s not all she’s worried about as there seems to be something sinister about their local toy shop and its employees – especially when it comes to the young boy.
Brian Yuzna, who directed Initiation: Silent Night, Deadly Night 4, returns for writing duties on this movie which is actually a lot better than people give it credit for. Perhaps it’s just because the franchise is mostly unknown to anyone outside of the horror community, but Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker is probably the second best movie of the whole series. Much like the previous instalment, there is a good amount of intrigue to the story which posits many twists and turns and it tries to be something more than just your average stalk-and-slash movie – much like the original Silent Night, Deadly Night. There is an argument to be made that the fourth movie is better in terms of the seriousness of the story, but there is something about Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker that makes it such a joy to watch.
The cast all do a stand up job in their roles, but this is a movie that belongs to the villains. Mickey Rooney is superb as Joe Peto (which admittedly does sound like “paedo” when they say it in the movie) and Brian Beemer is incredibly sinister as his mysterious son Pino. Looking at the names of the characters, you can work out quite quickly where the plot twists lies within the story, but Martin Kitrosser (in his first directorial role) does a good job of keeping the suspense high throughout the movie’s runtime.
That is, until the final act.
If there are two scenes that Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker is known for, it’s the full on killer toy scene and the finale. The toy scene in particular is very, very goofy and easy to make fun of – but given a bigger budget it could have been half decent. The idea was there, but there wasn’t enough funding to make it really work – like the opposite of Toys (something this movie shares a lot in common with). The final scene however will either make you laugh nervously at the madness of it or uproariously at the sheer stupidity of it. No matter which way you cut it, the final moments of Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker are absolutely bonkers. It really needs to be seen to be believed.
Like Initiation: Silent Night, Deadly Night 4, the fifth movie of the series is a departure from the Billy/Ricky killer Santa gimmick, but is more in keeping with the series than the previous two movies. However, the movie ties itself into the previous movie with the return of Neith Hunter as Kim who acts as the friendly neighbour and Clint Howard as Ricky – although this time he doesn’t appear to be a stooge for the cult and is now a creepy mall Santa. Any connection people could have made to this Ricky and the “GARBAGE DAY” Ricky is quashed in this movie. Hunter does make reference to Initiation: Silent Night, Deadly Night 4 in a throw away line of dialogue, but it still doesn’t feel like a sequel to the previous movie and again feels more like its own film trapped within another franchise. It’s not a distraction, but the inclusion of these characters feels more forced than anything else.
The Silent Night, Deadly Night series is far from brilliant but this fifth and final instalment is easily one of the best. That’s not to say it’s great, but it’s certainly a lot better than the second and third films of the franchise. The acting is of a level you’d expect, the story has some good twists and turns and it has an ending that will stay with you for a few days after the credits roll. To be honest, it’s worth watching just to see the ending.
Luke Owen is one of Flickering Myth’s co-editors and the host of the Flickering Myth Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @LukeWritesStuff.