Director: Lee Harry
Written by: Lee Harry, Joseph H. Earle, Dennis Patterson
Starring: Eric Freeman, James L. Newman, Elizabeth Cayton, Jean Miller
Taglines: “The nightmare is about to begin… again!”
“Prayers Won’t Save You In The Silent Part Of This Night…”
Ricky, the brother of Billy, the killer from the original film, recounts the events of the lives of his brother and himself, including his brother’s murderous rampage, to a psychiatrist in a mental institution.
It’s hardly rare for a sequel to be a blatant cash-in, and perhaps even less rare for that sequel to take obvious cost-cutting measures in order to get the product on screen as quickly as possible. However, this sequel – released just one year after the original had been re-released to US cinemas (after being withdrawn following the outcry over the 1984 release) is something to behold!
The film essentially takes the form of two sections, both narrated by Ricky. In the first, he recounts the incidents in his brother’s life up to his killing spree (only a couple of which he was actually present for), which consists largely of footage from the first film. We’re talking at least 30 minutes of footage in the first 40 mins or so, not including a later scene where Ricky goes to see the film film at the cinema (!). Once we see Billy’s death scene, his tale switches to his own tale after leaving the orphanage, somewhere between a retread of the original and a rather mundane tale of teenage angst punctuated by the occasional murder. Inevitably, the end of this tale has his escape from the asylum and move on to a final revenge.
While the original was hardly a bonafide classic outside of its controversial reputation, the sequel really takes the proverbial cake. Badly acted, badly directed, and as blatant a cheapo cash-in this side of The Asylum, there’s little point behind this movie’s existence apart from the need to get more money. That the new footage is of a wildly lower quality than the flashback footage only accentuates the problems. Even the basic cod psychology of the original (kid sees various immoral and horrible things happen involving Santa, eventually snaps when forced to wear his suit) is replaced by something far more nebulous and unsatisfying. The film also seems rather short, as the extended flashback footage required credits from both films to be included, so there’s only 30 mins of original footage, if that. They also manage to do all this without including anything from my favourite scene of the original (the visit to grandpa).
….and yet… the film manages to be entertaining! Special mention has to be made of Eric Freeman in the role of Ricky. He overacts at every turn, apparently under the impression that wiggling his eyebrows when he talks is a good way of inferring menace. The rest of the cast is pretty bad, but Freeman’s performance elevates it into another realm, one of the truly so-bad-it’s-good performances of the 1980s. His gurning makes the film not only bearable, but enjoyable on another level altogether.
In short, do NOT watch this film if you want to see a scary movie, a good movie, or even a competent production line sequel. However, if you love truly bad cinema, and can happily laugh with a few friends and/or beers at a movie, you can do far worse.
Almost inevitably, the film was refused a certificate for its 1987 UK release, probably due to the flashback footage featuring elements they objected to in the first film (such as Linnea Quigley’s death on the antlers). While the original has had a re-release by Arrow Film a few years back, there’s no sign of a release of this film in the UK. It’s available in the US as part of a double pack with the original.