December 24, 2013

Movie Review: Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker

I find it hard to believe that a movie that had so much protest against it that it got pulled from theaters would go on to spawn not just one but four sequels. Not only that but its final sequel stars Mickey Rooney, who famously wrote a letter criticizing the original, calling the filmmakers “scum” who should be “run out of town.” It is just a humorous turn of events. Now, it is likely that he did not know this was a Silent Night, Deadly Night sequel, it likely had a different working title, considering its tenuous connection to the rest of the series.

Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker is about as connected to the original film as part four was. The funny thing is that this fifth movie caries over characters from the fourth. The fourth film's star, Neith Hunter, returns as Kim and her only reference to past events is something like “You wouldn't believe what I've been through.” Seems like a complete waste, like why bother having her if you aren't going to actually do any follow up to the events?

Well, as the movie opens we see a little boy wake in the middle of the night, walk down the hall and catch his parents doing what parents do when they think the kids are asleep. It is Christmas Eve and the boy, Derek, goes downstairs and sees a mysterious present. As he begins to unwrap it, Daddy comes down, scolds him, and sends him back to bed. Daddy finishes unwrapping what looks like a big Pokemon ball. Derek watches from the stairs as the ball sprouts a demonic Santa head and arms and legs, proceeding to wrap around daddy's head until he loses his balance and lands on a fire poker. Something like that is enough to scar a boy.

There is not a lot to the movie. We jump a year ahead and Derek is still completely traumatized. He doesn't talk and barely interacts with anyone. We are introduced to a toy maker named Joe Petto (Rooney) and his son, Pino (Brian Bremer). If you couldn't tell, their names are references, references that are, shall we say, not very subtle. There is also a strange guy sneaking around watching Derek and his mother, Sarah (Jane Higginson), drawing ever closer.

This disparate elements come together as soon as you figure out the toy maker's name reference. We are told of a toy maker who lost his wife in a car accident and how he made toys that hurt a bunch of kids. We then see Pino sneaking around town and some toys that are pretty nasty. We even see Rooney leave some killer toys in a room with a teen couple doing what teen couples do when the adults aren't around, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.

It all builds to a bizarre climax that sees Pino going nuts, revealing his true nature and trying to replace Derek as Sarah's son. It is an utterly bizarre, what the hell was that sort of sequence that will leave you scratching your head, especially when the movie ends with a bizarre tease of an open ending.

As I sat watching this movie unfold in front of me, much to my inexplicable enjoyment, I kept wondering how this wasn't a Full Moon Pictures movie. It has the look, sound, and feel of a Charles Band production. It's not, but it feels like one. From the nasty killer toys, to the exploitative feel of the tale, to the music, to the bad acting, it could have been easily conjiggered into a Puppet Master or at least a Demonic Toys movie. I even went looking for the composer's name, I expected to see Richard Band, instead finding Matthew Morse.

The movie was directed and written by Martin Kitrosser, a name I became familiar with rather recently. He was involved in writing a pair of Friday the 13th movies (Part 3 and A New Beginning). His work here is inferior to those two, but he still manages to make an inexplicably entertaining movie that is better than any of the other sequels (at least 3 and 4, I haven't seen 2 yet).

This movie that does not try to be all that deep, but still manages to be of interest. Petto is a tragic character whose motives are never fully explained, he is understood upon learning of the tragedy surrounding his family. It is not an excuse, but makes him a bit more relatable, especially when the end rolls around. Pino is twisted little fellow who believes he can be more than others think he can be, but does not exactly go about showing it the right way.

This is a low budget horror movie, a sequel to a cult favorite, although that is in name only. This is a movie that is easy to ignore and you would not be missing much should you skip it, still I believe it is worth watching. It is silly, goofy, weird, and has a climax that defies explanation. I seriously wondered what they were thinking when they made it. If you like cheesy horror, this is one to see. No classic, but really fun.


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