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Silent Night, Deadly Night Collection – Collector’s Series (Blu-ray Review)

One of my long standing wishlist titles for Blu-ray have been for the remaining sequels to Silent Night, Deadly Night to find their day in the sun. And at last, on December 13th, they finally will see that dawn. Vestron Video Collector’s Series from Lionsgate has updated their DVD 3 film set and is bringing it to a pretty loaded Blu-ray set. Each film is getting a commentary and plenty of interviews in tow. These films may be of the acquired taste variety, but I tend to love how weird, wacky and somehow disturbing this series gets. There’s even peak hypocrisy with known vehement hater of the first film, Mickey Rooney, leading the cast of the fifth film. This set comes at a pretty great deal for 3 films with new bonus features and you can order it using the paid Amazon Associates link at the bottom of this review.

Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out!

Dr. Newbury has saved the life of the hideously injured Ricky Caldwell (Bill Moseley). The doctor has encased his patient’s exposed brain inside a Plexiglas cap, yet he has failed to revive him from his deep coma. In Newbury’s attempt to reach the comatose victim’s mind, he connects Ricky’s brain waves to a gifted clairvoyant, Laura Anderson (Samantha Scully), who unexpectedly taps into the dark and twisted realm of his haunted dreams. Ghastly things start to happen and Detective Connolly (Robert Culp), must fight to stop the dangerous experiment.

While there are some things to respect about Silent Night, Deadly Night 3, it is quite a slug to get through. It wants to be a more patient slasher, but it asks a lot of patience from the audience. The first act works well enough, but its after Ricky escapes that the movie slows down and plods. Even where the “chase” scenes are concerned, the camera work and editing take quite a lot of time to play out. Our killer even speaks quite slowly as he slashes through the cast of the film. That’s really its biggest and only real cinematic crime here is that it takes too long without being abstract enough or interesting to look at.

Monte Hellman is a really odd, but cool choice for the film. That’s probably why the film has a respectable quality to it, despite being subpar. He’s got some interesting places to take, tell and show us with the series. Hellman doesn’t quite want to do just a standard slasher and it shows. The director also seems to have a keen interesting in David Lynch/Twin Peaks. There are a few cast members from that show here as well as a future Mullholland Drive stars in Laura Harring in the cast. And there’s an excitement in cult horror icon Bill Moseley taking over the role of Ricky that comes with the film as well.

Describing the third entry to someone probably does carry that excitement. Watching it is another thing. Having seen the film probably more times than I should have, every time I realize I sort of enjoy what I’m watching, but always want the thing to get a move on it. And that’s crazy because the film is in the 90 minutes and under category. A tighter edit and this is a decent B-level holiday horror classic.

Video

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail:  Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out! arrives on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray in its 4×3 appearance, not cropped or reformatted for modern televisions/monitors. Its got a pretty vivid looking picture, crisp with detail and a rather bright appearance.

Depth:  Depth of field is pretty solid and there’s a solid amount of spacing/pushback present. Character movement is smooth and natural, never running into any errors with blur or jitter resulting from rapid action, cutting or camera movement.

Black Levels: Black levels are pretty deep and decently consuming. Details still showcase with some ease, but it can get pretty dark at times in the outdoor scenes in the night. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors are pretty rock solid and natural. Red here is a stand out, which it should be with the blood and Christmas iconography on display. This isn’t one to pop, but its got good saturation and the appearance is fitting of the aesthetic.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones have a bit of a washed look to them in many of the opening hospital sequence and then settle on a more natural look once the movie leaves there. Facial features and textures are plenty visible from pretty much all close up and medium shots, varying in further away  than that.

Noise/Artifacts: None

Audio

Format(s): English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: The film comes with a rock solid 2.0 track that features some solid balance and nuance with the vocals, effects and score. Said score comes across beautifully, with some deeper tones really resonating and warming with the viewer. This here is the natural mix for the film and it’s more than adequate for the experience.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp

Extras

A redeemable digital code for the film is included in this set.

Audio Commentary

  • with Film Historian Jarret Gahan

Outshine The Brain Cap (HD, 16:24) – An Interview with Actor Bill Moseley. Moseley talks about being a new father when this came out and was honestly just happy to land the work here. He notes that his head was ready to go because he’d recently finished his part of Chop Top in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, so that inadvertently prepped him physically to play Ricky.

Monte and Me (HD, 20:41) – An Interview with Creative Consultant Steven Gaydos. He talks his experience on the film and how he came to be a part of it as long with the quick, swift nature of the movie.

For A Live Audience: Silent Night, Deadly Night 3 (HD, 9:22) – An Interview with Executive Producer Richard Gladstein. He talks picking up the rights and continuing on in a straight to video way. How they came up with this one, what kind of window they had to shoot and how pieces came into play as well as the surprise director available and willing in Monte Hellman.

Trailer (HD, 1:29)

Still Gallery (HD, 4:20)

Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation

A beautiful reporter, Kim (Neith Hunter) is the witness of a woman who falls to her death and spontaneously combusts into flames. She begins to investigate the death of the woman, but finds herself caught up in a group of vile witches who want her to be their brand new member.

If there’s a standout among the Silent Night, Deadly Night films that ISN’T “Garbage Day”, its the fourth film in the series. Brian Yuzna directs this aggressively whacky movie that is about witches and features a whole lot of craziness. From being a sort of what the f*** movie to being absolutely gross with gore and body horror, its far from being dull at any turn. I don’t know if its good or not, but I can certainly tell you I was never bored and constantly entertained.

Yuzna’s film features a smorgasbord of things that keep it running. Its set up as a sort of journalism thriller, with a nice slant of eroticism. But from there we get some weird hallucinations and odd appearances by Clint Howard as “Ricky” (The same? Maybe?). There are also some wicked kills and just odd witchcraft stuff to boot. Let along we have a bit of a nifty cast to go with it. Along with Howard and model Neith Hunter, you get Allyce Beasley from Moonlighting, Maud Adams from the James Bond movies and Reggie Bannister from the Phantasm movies.

I couldn’t tell you if its the best of the bunch in the Silent Night, Deadly Night films but its certainly not the safest one at all. If you’re looking for something wild, something different after the first 1 (or 2, you GOTTA see “Garbage Day”), then this might be the one I’d recommend, because you’ll have to see it to understand and once you do, I’m almost certain you’re not going to forget all of the weird and crazy stuff that happens in it.

Video

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: Silent Night Deadly Night 4: Initiation debuts, like 3 (and 5), with a mere “digitally restored” transfer. It certainly looks very nice and much better than any sort of DVD upconvert. The image is similar to 3, but its production value provides a different aesthetic. It sort of looks like TV from the era. Textures and patterns are plenty visible in this sharper, rather clean image.

Depth:  Depth of field is rather average like the last film. Good enough to be an uptick over the DVD, but nothing world changing here. Movements are filmic and fluid with no motion distortions present during rapid action.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and rich at times. Darker areas still do pretty decent in not consuming up the textures/patterns/fine details. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors are rather basic and don’t really carry much of a pop besides the reds, bet it fabrics or blood on the screen. Solid saturation on them though.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish of the film. Facial features and textures are plenty viewable in close ups and lost some luster as people are further away in the frame.

Noise/Artifacts: None

Audio

Format(s): English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: Silent Night Deadly Night 4: Initiation has a rather loud track here, which is pretty impressive. It also has some deeper, hummier, rumbly low frequency touches. There is a good balance of the score, vocals and sound effects in this mix as well. I’d say its rather strong for what this is.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp

Extras

A redeemable digital code for the film is included in this set.

Audio Commentary

  • with Director Brian Yuzna

Our Man Ricky (HD, 13:30) – An Interview with Clint Howard. “Ricky gravitates toward these women…and he wants to do their bidding, willingly and gleefully…I played Ricky with all of my hearts and guts.” He talks about how Yuzna was a great leader for this kind of movie and goes through his audition process and how he went home to meditate to send good vibes to the casting director. There’s other cast members he had good relations with but his best one was with Yuzna.

Ritualistic Behavior (HD, 13:41) – An Interview with Screenwriter Woody Keith (real name Zeph E. Daniels). “Where is the blasphemy of Christmas?” He says that he and Yuzna have nothing in common, but when it comes to working on movies together they work better than any other. Says Yuzna was very into Lillith mythology which inspired the story and that there were 3 different versions of the script.

Twisted Visions (HD, 17:31) – An Interview with Surrealistic Design & Effects Artist Screaming Mad George. He talks about how this film isn’t really a kill count movie but is into being more gooey and slimy and that there’s an audience for that. Mad George finds himself a good fit with Brian Yuzna because he is more into surrealism with his effects than just killing people. “As long as this is in winter and Christmas is an element, we can do what we want” is how Yuzna told him he could spin this in the direction of witchcraft from killer Santas.

For a Live Audience: Silent Night, Deadly Night 4 (HD, 8:33) – An Interview with Executive Producer Richard Gladstein. Meeting Brian Yuzna on Bride of Re-Animator, he wanted him for the job. Gladstein was on board with a brand new story with witches and such. “The company just wanted us to make something that would go into a box like this”. He touches on having some element of casting and have some kitsch involved (Maud Adams & Clint Howard, Robert Culp in the last one, Mickey Rooney in the next one) while bringing a youthful sexiness to the leads. Credits Brian Yuzna with teaching him how to produce a movie. “We couldn’t care less about the connection of one film to another.”

Trailer (HD, :56)

Still Gallery (HD, 5:20)

Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toymaker

It looks like a fright Christmas for young Derek Quinn (William Thorne). He’s seen what living horrors lurk inside the brightly wrapped boxes from Joe Petto’s (Mickey Rooney) shop – an experience that left him mute. Now he can’t even scream when the deadly toys come to life again in his own house. Who’s behind the terror? Is it Jolly Joe, his mysterious son Pino or even the strange newcomer named Noah? Don’t wait another moment to find out. This one’s all wrapped up with one place to go – your home!

The fifth Deadly Night is probably the most easily accessible of the sequels, but it luckily still comes with its bits of strange and weirdness. This is thanks in part to Brian Yuzna still being involved and Screaming Mad George handling the effects once more. While this is a simple twist on the old tale of Pinocchio, complete with names that sound like glorious puns, its not afraid to get gross, sexual or straight up bizarre at any turn.

Quite possibly the major highlight and the ultimate full circle moment for the film (and in the series, too) comes in the form of the casting of Andy Rooney as a Santa Claus dressed up villain. When the original Silent Night, Deadly Night was released, he was a notable person vehemently against the film and moving a charge against its filmmakers. No, years later, here he is starring in one that you could argue is possibly more wicked than the one he was so angry about. Sort of fitting that the original “canon” end here. That word “canon” used loosely as they just made Christmas horror films and slapped the title on there without any adherence to continuity.

The Toymaker has a pretty straightforward narrative to go along with a decent pace. Where it gets silly is in the details and the effects of the movie. Its still a movie that finds itself giddy in its more exploitative factions and still leaves one with a sense of icky or “holy crap, did that just happen?” moments that the series’ sequels have made the hallmarks of their brand. Though, if one is looking for the safest, or easiest watch of this lot, then this fifth entry, dubbed The Toymaker, is the way to go.

Video

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toymaker debuts on Blu-ray with a digital restoration and transfer complimentary of its 2 predecessors. It retains the original intended VHS 4×3 frame and carries a pretty clear and sharp picture. It may not be the best looker, but for these films, its probably what we’ll have to settle being happy on, considering how long they took to appear on the format and the relative popularity of their demand.

Depth:  Again, depth is pretty average. People do have their space and decently are rounded out in the frame. No issues occur with any motion distortions caused by rapid camera or character movements.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and can find themselves being a little consuming in some of the darkest interiors and nighttime scenes. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors are decently saturated and hold a natural, slightly unremarkable look to them. Reds again are the star and pop when blood appears or a Christmassy red appears on a decoration or outfit.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from the opening ho ho hos to the final “to all a goodnight”. Facial features and textures are rock solid in close ups with diminishing returns as people get further back in the frame.

Noise/Artifacts: None

Audio

Format(s): English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: The Toymaker has another very good audio track that is plenty loud and carries some deeper undertones with a good rumble for a 2.0 track. There’s good saturation and balance in this mix which should leave the faithful viewer pleased with the experience.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp

Extras

A redeemable digital code for the film is included in this set.

Audio Commentary

  • with Director-Cowriter Martin Kitrosser

The Best Presents (HD, 18:15) – An Interview with Producer-Cowriter Brian Yuzna. “It’s just how you sell it”. Funny enough, he had no idea about Mickey Rooney condemning the first film. Yuzna talks about being happy to have been hired for a job though he had no interest in making a Christmas movie (“I even made the main character Jewish”). But, he goes into figuring it out and how he brought his craft and his people over to make this film that was more akin to his taste.

Pino’s Truth (HD, 19:59) –  An Interview with Actor Brian Bremer. He opens with his introduction to Brian Yuzna working on Society and thinking he was standoffi-ish. And woah, this guy was from Pumpkinhead! This winds up being a pretty personal and detailed recount of his work on the film and career and of the best interviews in this set.

The Most Toys (HD, 13:25) – An Interview with Surrealistic Design & Effects Artist Screaming Mad George. “I think its very cute and gross at the same time.” Continuing on from his interview on the previous disc, he goes over his effects work on this one which was notably a different angle than witches.

For a Live Audience: Silent Night, Deadly Night 5 (HD, 8:35) An Interview with Executive Producer Richard Gladstein. He recalls the “Pinocchio as a horror film” idea from a Friday the 13th writer. At the time of this movie, Gladstein was getting involved in producing Reservoir Dogs. That writer for this one, he introduced to Quentin Tarantino to be script supervisor and has been for him on every film since. “I guess the fact we’re here means that these films did well enough that people want to know what happened.” With how successful 5 actually was, he’s surprised they didn’t continue making more.

Trailer (HD, 1:17)

Still Gallery (HD, 7:56)

Summary

Are any of the latter 3 sequels to Silent Night, Deadly Night any good in the traditional sense? No, not really. But they sure are fascinating curiosities with big swings and some directions you’d never expect this “guy in Santa suit kills people” series to go. The Vestron Video label has given these films a love I’d never imagined possible, with great new interviews and commentaries. Their presentation proves solid enough and the price point is tough to beat. The easiest thing is; these are a clear upgrade in a big way from their DVD counterparts.

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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