Archive for Christmas Horror

Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) Review

Posted in Silent Night, Deadly Night with tags , , , on December 9, 2013 by Last Road Reviews


**** Out of 5

Tagline- You’ve Made It Through Halloween Now Try and Survive Christmas

Release Date- November 9th, 1984

Running Time- 85-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Michael Hickey (Story, Paul Caimi)

Director- Charles E. Sellier, Jr

Starring- Lilyan Chauvin, Robert Brian Wilson, Gilmer McCormick, Toni Nero, Britt Leach, Linnea Quigley

Released in 1984 Silent Night, Deadly Night is perhaps the most controversial horror movies of the 80s and perhaps one of the most of all time, which I’ll get into a little bit later. Silent Night, Deadly Night is one of the more interesting slasher films of the 80s since the first half of the film is quite different than most, but the 2nd half becomes the standard stalk and slash film and many people have compared Rob Zombie’s 2007 remake of Halloween to Silent Night, Deadly Night in terms of the backstory created for both villains. Speaking of Halloween the original 1978 classic while not the first slasher film was the first to become a major box office success and by 1980 we saw a slew of these kinda films released and after the success of Friday the 13th the slasher film was even more popular. 1981 in my opinion as a whole was the best year for the slasher film and while what followed were still some entertaining films things were getting stale since the slasher film has a very simple formula. By 1984 we were seeing a bit of a decline, but there was still some life left and if things were getting stale by 1984 the rest of the 80s the slasher film was now a bit tired though there were still a lot of fun ones, but it seems there were a few more subpar ones that in the early to mid-80s. Silent Night, Deadly Night isn’t exactly filmmaking at its very finest, but its a fun film that with the right people involved could have been perhaps one of the greats, but with that said we still get a highly entertaining film and while it doesn’t reinvent the slasher film it does at least try and offer something a little different in the first half of the film. I’m not sure where I’d rate this in regards to 80s slasher films, but it is one of my favorites and elevated for me due to the mean spirit approach.

What I liked about Silent Night, Deadly Night is that it attempts at being more than your average slasher flick and has a lot of thriller aspects early in the film showing the breakdown of Billy over the course of the first half of the movie. As a young child Billy witnessed the brutal murder of his mother and father by a man dressed as Santa Claus and was sent off to an orphanage run by nuns and while there Billy gets a lot of psychical and mental abuse from Mother Superior (Lilyan Chauvin). One thing made clear is Billy isn’t a bad kid, but a troubled kid due to what he had seen and he never got the help that he very much needed and then at 18-years old he’s thrown into the real world, which he deals with well until Christmas time that is and the final straw was when he has to dress as Santa Claus at the department store he works at. This is the type of movie where your villain is very much a victim as well and in many ways is quite sympathetic. Silent Night, Deadly Night has a little more going for it than most slasher films at least again in the first half. Many critics of the slasher film complained that these movies were made for the audience to root for the killer and I actually disagree with that. I think the main reason the audience might root for the killer is due to weak characters, but that’s a problem with the writing. But if you have a solid character and at least a decent enough actor or actress odds are the viewer will root for that person to survive and characters such as Dr. Loomis and Laurie Strode come to mind. However there are slasher films where the audience is meant to root for the killer and the Sleepaway Camp films come to mind, but in the case of 2 & 3 they aren’t meant to be taken serious at all. But I do think the complaints from critics are off base for the most part.

But with Silent Night, Deadly Night it might be true well sort of; I don’t think Billy was meant to be rooted for, but the viewer will have more sympathy for him, rather than the victims. The movie is about Billy and and his victims play a small role and therefore anytime the focus is on the villain in horror movies people will say the movies makes you root for the killer and sure the victims aren’t very well developed and in some cases not very likable, but I still disagree with the critics on this one and I don’t think the viewer was meant to root for Billy, but were meant to feel some sympathy and despite what he does it’s almost as if he was left no choice in a way; he wasn’t given the chance at a normal life and as much as I liked the movie maybe better filmmakers would have gotten that point across a little more.

The screenplay by Michael Hickey is quite interesting and a bit different than most slasher films at the time. There are a lot of excellent ideas presented as the first half deals with Billy’s psyche after the murder of his parents. Like I said before Billy isn’t evil, but he’s been deeply scarred and with the proper help could have turned out fine and I like the idea of someone good descending into madness. Michael Hickey does a fairly good job with the backstory and perhaps a better writer could have taken this idea a little further, but as it stands the first half of Silent Night, Deadly Night is a bit better than most slasher films of the era. Even though I found the first half of the screenplay to be strong it’s not without some silly dialogue; the potential the script had was a lot more than it turned out. But again in terms of slasher films, Hickey does craft an interesting screenplay early on. The 2nd half the script becomes the typical slasher fare and the writing now is slasher 101. It is a little disappointing seeing the 2nd half become the standard slasher film and it also gets a little silly in spots as every time Billy kills someone he says naughty or punish and its kinda hard to take these scenes too seriously even if they are played straight. In many ways Silent Night, Deadly Night is a tale of two screenplays and while I liked the film a lot and again liked how the first half does something a little different and while Michael Hickey writes a good script early on, with a better writer it could have been a lot deeper and powerful, but as it stands it’s still solid. The 2nd half again is slasher 101 and while the script remains fun it is a notch below the first half.

Director Charles E. Sellier crafts a well paced film with some decent suspense. Sellier does his best work in the first half of the film, but like how a better writer could have gotten more out of the backstory the same can be said about the direction, but Sellier still handles these scenes well and it is the strongest parts of the film. The 2nd half is very much slasher films 101 and while not overly suspenseful it works thanks to an eerie tone due to the Salt Lake City setting and the mean spirit approach taken by Sellier. SNDN features a deaf priest mistaken for Billy gunned down in front of a few kids and than later Billy getting killed right in front of children. Linnea Quigley appears in a brief part and her death scene also has a bit of nastiness to it. Overall again I feel despite the flaws this was one of the stronger slasher films of the 80s and while this isn’t exaxctly filmmaking at its very finest, Charles Sellier directs a film that turns out better than perhaps it should have been.

The performances were mostly strong for a film of this type and while Robert Brian Wilson as Billy might be a little stiff in his dialogue delivery he gives a strong performance as a whole and is very sympathetic despite his actions. Gilmer McCormick is solid in her role trying to help Billy and later trying to find him to stop him before he hurts anyone else or gets killed himself. But it’s Lilyan Chauvin as Mother Superior who steals the show; she’s really cold and mean and she really does an amazing job with the character. These kinda movies aren’t always known for their acting, but Lilyan’s performance brings a touch of class to the movie.

When Silent Night, Deadly Night was released it created a major controversy due to a killer dressed as Santa Claus, which had people protesting and demanding the movie be banned and the critics were extremely harsh on this flick in particular Siskel and Ebert, but most negative reviews seemed based off the concept and not the actual movie. I’m sure the filmmakers from the writer to the director to the producers and all the way to the studio were fully aware at what they were doing and in this case it backfired. The saying there’s no such thing as bad press was proven wrong with Silent Night, Deadly Night. However when it comes to people protesting its just silly. If you don’t want your children seeing this film than don’t let them simple as that. I first saw this when I was a pre-teen and it didn’t scar me though by that time I also didn’t believe in Santa Claus anymore, but not the point. The one thing clear is the parents protesting never saw this film, which would have probably had them going crazier if they did since the film is a bit mean spirited. Oddly enough this isn’t even the first film with a killer Santa. We saw this in the film version of Tales from the Crypt (the story would later be adapted for the TV show in 1989) and in 1980 cult actor David Hess made his directorial debut (and only directing credit) with To All a Goodnight, which featured a killer dressed as Santa.

Silent Night was actually released the same day as A Nightmare on Elm Street and believe it or not out-grossed Elm St. in it’s opening weekend (not by a whole lot, but not the point). Due to the controversy Silent Night, Deadly Night would falter in its 2nd week and than it was pulled from theaters (though it still turned a profit) and would later find an audience on VHS and than again on DVD. I often wonder if there wasn’t any controversy how would the series have gone and the same for Elm Street? Odds are Elm Street would still have had a sequel, but would it have come out the following year? If not does that change the direction the series went? And who knows maybe Elm Street doesn’t pull enough in for New Line to give a green-light for a sequel. And how about Silent Night, Deadly Night, which did become a franchise, but would they have turned out differently? We’ll never know the answers to these questions, but it is an interesting thing to think about.

Like I mentioned earlier many people have compared Rob Zombie’s Halloween to Silent Night, Deadly Night and the comparison is fair since they share the same basic ideas as they both focus on the breakdown of their villain starting in childhood, but the differences are Michael was clearly a disturbed boy who was bound to snap sooner or later whereas Billy was a good kid who was handed a low blow in life and had he gotten the proper help could have turned out fine, but the basic ideas between the two films are alike.

Overall Silent Night, Deadly Night is a solid slasher film that is a bit deeper than most and while the 2nd half does have its flaws in the sense it’s the typical stalk and slash movie it still remains better than most. While I wouldn’t say this was the best slasher film of the 80s I would rate it as one of them though.

Silent Night, Deadly Night like Halloween 4-6 was shot in Salt Lake City, Utah and a couple of actors in SNDN would later appear in some of the Halloween films. Don Shanks who played Michael Myers in Halloween 5 appears here as a Santa climbing in the window who the cops at first mistake for Billy. Max Robinson plays Officer Barnes would also appear in Halloween 5 as Dr. Hart and lastly, Leo Geter who played Tommy would appear in Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers as Barry Sims














Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (1987) Review

Posted in Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 with tags , , , , on December 7, 2013 by Last Road Reviews


** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- The Nightmare Is About to Begin Again!

Release Date- April 10th, 1987

Running Time- 88-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Lee Harry & Joseph H. Earle

Director- Lee Harry

Starring- Eric Freeman, James Newman, Elizabeth Kaitan, Jean Miller

I remember as a kid seeing the original Silent Night, Deadly Night and loving it, but I could never track down the sequel. Even my local video store, which had a great horror selection didn’t have this one. I saw 3-5 on cable, but still this one eluded me. This was back before the internet so it wasn’t easy to track these films down or head over to YouTube to see a trailer so I knew nothing about Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 outside of the killer being Ricky the younger brother of the killer in the original and I only knew that because of the ending of the original hinted at that and because of Silent Night, Deadly Night III. It wasn’t until about 93-95 that I finally came across a copy of Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 at another video store. I remember being quite excited at finally being able to see the film and upon my first viewing I was like what the hell was that? It wouldn’t be for about another 10-years until I saw it again when Anchor Bay released it on DVD along with the original film and the 2nd time around I had a lot more fun with it. The term worst movie ever is thrown around a lot and in most cases the movie in question is rarely ever deserving of that title, but Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 can be dubbed that and this time it would be very deserving. I wouldn’t rate this as the worst film of all time simply due to the fact I found the film to be fun in how bad it was. From a filmmaking side of things sure this is probably as bad as you’ll see, but when I think of films I’ve seen that I would consider the worst film the main theme each has is not only was it poorly made, but worst of all boring. Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 might be poorly made, but it’s never boring, which for me keeps it from the worst film ever, but I wouldn’t argue against it.

I’m sure everybody knows the controversy the first film created, which lead to the Silent Night, Deadly Night being pulled after 2-weeks. Lee Harry was hired to recut the original film with one or two newly shot scenes, but instead he decided to add more than a few, but with the limited budget only so much new footage could be shot and therefore roughly 40-minutes of the 87-minute running time is footage from the original with a couple of minutes worth of new footage. Than for the last 40 or so minutes is newly shot scenes and now it becomes a sequel. This does make the film a little frustrating early on and more so since the footage of the original is the R-rated footage and while the uncut version of SNDN isn’t exactly graphic the R-rated scenes very much lack. However once the sequel begins we get one of the ultimate bad films, but I will give everyone involved some credit for putting together some decent stunts with no money and no help from the studio.

The concept of Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 is pretty much the same as the original only this time we follow Ricky (Freeman) who is the younger brother of Billy the killer in the original. Whereas we can feel sympathy for Billy, Ricky on the other hand had a shot at a normal life, but since his victims are unlikable odds are you’ll probably root for Ricky.

The screenplay by Lee Harry & Joseph H. Earle is quite absurd filled with really silly, but often hysterical dialogue. This film has plenty of really great quotable moments and while I’m sure their intention wasn’t to write a so bad its good film, but regardless they ended up with that for better or worse. Ricky has amazing memory for detail on events he was too young to remember and is also able to mention events he wasn’t even there for. This why extremely idiotic only adds to the fun factor.

Director Lee Harry crafts a really bad film, but that’s part of what makes this so fun. There are so many moments too idiotic to count, but the film is almost always a lot of fun in the idiocy of it all. As I mentioned the first half can be a little frustrating as its clips of the original with a new scene or two added in. Once we get past that is when the fun begins. Pacing for the most part is strong due to how poor the film is. Silent Night, Deadly Night has to be seen to be believed.

Here are some highlights.

When a man and a woman are on a date and he attempts to sexually assault her, Ricky has a flashback of his mothers attack and kills the man attempting to rape the woman, after killing him the woman than says thank you to Ricky! And people say there aren’t any manners anymore. When Ricky is out on a date with Jennifer (Kaitan) the film they’re watching is Silent Nignt, Deadly Night!! Another highlight is when Ricky goes to kill Jennifer. She gulps and says uh oh and tries to run off and this scene is very much one you need to see to fully appreciate. Ricky walks around killing people and constantly does this evil laugh and for someone who’s never fired a gun before had great aim. And of course no review would be complete without Garbage Day! That scene has become an internet sensation with spoof videos, which are actually quite amusing. And if all that weren’t enough when Ricky sets his sights on Mother Superior (Miller) and her address is 666, which I found rather funny and Ricky’s got an axe, she’s able to get away and gets inside a room, which she blocks off with a small desk and locks the door. Than this look of relief comes over her. The guy has a freaking axe I hardly think any of that is gonna stop him!

On the audio commentary track for the movie with the writer/director Lee Harry, co-writer Joseph H. Earle and James Newman who played Dr. Bloom are quite aware of how bad this film turned out and never try to hide the fact this movie is bad. At one point the commentary track is something out Mystery Science Theater 3000, which they all actually mention; the three of them at times make fun of the film and well there really is a lot to make fun of garbage day alone makes this film worthy. But despite all of that this movie is a laugh riot and one of the most hysterical movies I ever sat through and the only thing more entertaining than watching this is watching it with audio commentary.

Eric Freeman as Ricky gives the ultimate so bad its good performance. I don’t think I can put into words how epic he was in this film and the constant eyebrow movements has to be some kind of world record.

Overall Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 is for me one of the best of the so bad its good films. Just putting this into words was quite tough as it truly has to be seen to be believed. I didn’t know if I should give this one star or five! The original film was set and shot in Salt Lake City, Utah and this one is shot in L.A. despite the fact it’s supposed to be the same setting as the original! When this film was released there was no controversy and it only played for about a week and than was gone, but would later find an audience on home video.





Christmas Themed Reviews

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on November 29, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

So last year I had a batch of reviews for Christmas themed horror films, which originally was meant to be far more elaborate. At first most if not the entire month of December was meant to be all Christmas films and not just horror. However due to my house flooding and losing so many films that was sort of derailed and I ended up posting reviews that I already had written.

The blog was fairly successful so I figured why not do it again? For the most part it will be all horror films again, with a couple of non horror films thrown in. I have a list set up but that could change. But seeing as all these films my reviews are pretty much written (or in need of a bit touch up) I don’t see any problems. Here are the list of films I plan to cover as of now. Like I said some may miss the cut and others could be added, but it will probably go like this (this isn’t the order I will review them by the way).

December 2nd is when I’ll kick it off and it will end December 9th.

After that I have an announcement to make regarding the page.

Until than here’s the list of films.

Silent Night, Deadly Night
Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2
Dorm That Dripped Blood
I Come in Peace
Lethal Weapon


Silent Night (2012) Review

Posted in Christmas Themed Horror Reviews, Silent Night with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 23, 2012 by Last Road Reviews


** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- He Knows Who’s Been Naughty

Release Date- November 30th, 2012

Running Time- 94-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Jayson Rothwell

Director- Steven C. Miller

Starring- Jaime King, Donal Logue, Ellen Wong and Malcolm McDowell as Sheriff Cooper

Silent Night is a loose remake of the cult classic Silent Night, Deadly Night originally released in 1984. Outside of a few homages these two films have nothing in common outside of a killer dressed as Santa and of course the Christmas setting, but the original Silent Night, Deadly Night wasn’t the first horror film set on Christmas nor was it the first to have a killer dressed as Santa. I’m sure most people already know the controversy the original film stirred up, but this isn’t about the original so I’ll refrain from getting into it. The remake won’t stir up the same controversy, actually it won’t have any. But as I stated in the opening the two films have nothing in common and had Silent Night gone under a different title most wouldn’t even link it to the original and if they did it would only be due to the homages. The plot is totally different as are the motives for the killer in each movie.

There was a lot of excitement over the release of Silent Night due to some people hailing the original as one of the great horror films and as much as I enjoyed the film there is no way it’s one of the greats, which is reserved for such movies like Night of the Living Dead and Bride of Frankenstein and others hail Silent Night, Deadly Night as nothing, but vile trash and welcome a remake. As much as I enjoyed the original I have to admit I was looking forward to Silent Night as it had the potential to be a lot of fun, but somewhere along the way the fun I was hoping for ended up being boredom at times.

Set in a small city in Wisconsin, its Christmas Eve and a killer dressed as Santa Claus is on the loose picking off the citizens as the police frantically search for the crazed killer and well that sums up the entire plot. The script by Jayson Rothwell was quite poor and while slasher flicks aren’t know for their writing this was just poor and impacts the movie in a negative way. The characters are lifeless and dull and are better off dead. There is a decent attempt at creating some depth for Aubrey Bradimore (King), but in the end it feels like filler scenes and had they been removed nothing would feel like it were missing. Any scene with the priest was cringe worthy and this was some of the weakest writing.

I know complaining about a screenplay for a slasher movie might sound silly, but the script was quite poor with no real sense of plot and very dull characters. While true most slasher films aren’t know for their plots, but this one feels like it has even less and sure most slasher films have characters that are better off dead, but the characters here were among the weaker ones this type of film has to offer. While there are some decent ideas presented, but Rothwell doesn’t handle them very well and the script again is quite poor and derails any potential Silent Night had. As I stated this film has very little in common with the original and I wouldn’t even consider it a remake.

There are some homages such as garbage day, which gave me a laugh and there is also a scene where a character visits his catatonic grandfather who suddenly snaps out of it and warns of the danger of Christmas Eve, which while a nice homage to the original, but feels really, really out of place and was just there for the sake of it as it adds nothing to the plot unlike the original where it added to the movie. Again I know complaining about a script is a slasher movie might be silly, but the film was poorly plotted with mostly boring and lifeless characters.

Director Steve C. Miller does a nice job, but is given very little to work with. Based on the poor script there really is only so much Miller can do, but to his credit he does deliver a well-made movie with some really cool death scenes. The suspense is a bit light and too many scenes take place during the daytime, which does hinder the movie a bit. The pacing can be a little sluggish, which I think is more due to the script since lack of action hurts the movie since the characters aren’t strong enough to carry the movie. But overall I really didn’t have much of a problem with the direction as a whole, but like I said with the subpar script not much really could be done.

The performances range from weak to good with the leads being the best. Jaime King is excellent in her role and despite not having a lot of depth since her story isn’t explored enough, but King still handles everything well. Ellen Wong steals the show though and the film would have been better served if she had more screen time. Malcolm McDowell like always is a blast as he totally hams it up. Much of his dialogue is silly, but McDowell made it work.

Overall Silent Night has its moments and perhaps I’m being to harsh, but I just thought this was a movie that could have and should have turned out better. Perhaps with a better script it could have. In time I’ll revisit this and see if my opinion has changed and I totally get the appeal the movie had, but for me it just didn’t work.















Black Christmas (1974) Review

Posted in Black Christmas, Christmas Themed Horror Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 22, 2012 by Last Road Reviews


**** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- If This Movie Doesn’t Make Your Skin Crawl it’s on too Tight!

Release Date- December 20th, 1974

Running Time- 98-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Roy Moore

Director- Bob Clark

Starring- Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder, Andrea Martin, Doug McGrath, James Edmund and John Saxon

Released in 1974 Black Christmas has gained a massive cult following over the years and is now rightfully seen as a horror classic and while I hold the film in high regard I don’t hold it as high as some fans of the movie do. John Carpenter’s 1978 classic Halloween is often cited as the first slasher film and the one that paved the way for the slasher flicks of the 80s; the latter is fairly accurate, but not the former. There were other slasher flicks prior to Halloween with Black Christmas being one of them and one can even cite the Gialli as an inspiration for many slasher flicks since they two have a lot in common in the basic structure, but it was Halloween even if not the first slasher was the one that made a whole lot of money opening the door for the slasher flick.

Black Christmas and Halloween often get compared with some people calling Halloween a knock off film, which really isn’t true. Both films focus on suspense and tension rather than action and gore, but the truth is both films are actually quite different and any similarities aren’t that close for Halloween to be called a knock off film. Like I said they have a few things in common, but the basic style of the films are quite different. Bob Clark once stated he told John Carpenter about doing a sequel where the killer breaks out of an insane asylum, but it was Irwin Yablans who came up with the Halloween setting not Carpenter or Debra Hill and while I’m not calling Bob Clark a liar and even he’s gone back on what he said, but I don’t think Carpenter stole anything from Bob Clark.

Black Christmas is a style of film that sadly is mostly forgotten in the days of more violence and more gore and less on suspense. As much as I loved the 80s the decade started off great, but soon drifted off into mindless violence, but even with that the 80s was still an excellent era for the horror genre, but nothing can top the 70s. What I loved about 70s horror is not only were these movies horror flicks, but they also had a touch of drama and in the case of Black Christmas also a little bit of comedy.

The screenplay by Roy Moore is very smart and creative; the script has a simple idea, but is very well thought out and relies more on being subtle rather than spelling out everything for the audience. The “Billy” character is a mystery, which really makes things chilling. You can get some info based on the phone calls, but then again how much of this is true and how much are the ramblings of a lunatic? Billy’s motives are never made clear and sometimes that can slightly hinder a movie when nothing is explained, but when too much is explained the mystery is taken away, but Roy Moore gives just enough detail to retain the mystery of the villain.

I personally believe that Roy Moore’s intention with the phone calls is to give the viewer some insight to the character of Billy and what he’s saying as incoherent as it is has something to do with his past and I think the final outcome is highly effective, but you can also simply see it as some lunatic that has such a warped mind and his rants mean nothing, but the script was really intelligent. Even though I think the things Billy says has some kind of meaning he’s still a mystery; where did Billy come from? Does he go from town to town stalking and killing people to recreate a murder from the past? Or does the sorority house have some kind of meaning for him and it’s obvious Billy is insane, but does he have moments where he can maybe sort of function in reality? Did he possibly escape from an asylum? You can let your mind run away with you while watching the movie and that makes things more effective, but Roy Moore also delivers just enough insight that we don’t feel as if it’s a cop out.

The characters each have their own identity and while they may not have the most depth they aren’t however faceless victims, which for me always makes a movie better since if we at least care for the characters a little bit it makes the suspense play out much better. Besides writing a solid horror flick, Roy Moore also is able to add some drama and comedic elements and they all work and never feel out of place.

I would hate for people to judge Bob Clark on his later flicks such as Baby Geniuses as well as The Karate Dog; there is no doubt these movies were horrid, but with Black Christmas and Deathdream, Clark proved himself a worthy filmmaker. Maybe he just got lucky? I don’t have the answer for that, but Black Christmas is prime example on how to make a chilling horror flick and sadly this is something we hardly see anymore. As much as I love the 80s that did start using nudity and gore to make up for weak filmmaking. From the very opening scene Bob Clark sets a tone and is able to deliver some of the best feel of tension in any horror flick I’ve ever seen; some people might see Black Christmas as slow paced, but I disagree. To me a slow paced movie is one where there are scenes in which the movie doesn’t move forward. Every scene in Black Christmas somehow moves the movie forward in either story, characters or suspense.

I’m not sure what happend to Bob Clark with his later movies, but with Black Christmas he hits all the right notes as the movie has this amazing sense of dread that is present through-out the entire movie and even if a scene or two might be a little slow it never gets boring due to the eerie feel. I’ve seen a lot of horror flicks in my life and very few have managed to be as chilling as Black Christmas. That’s why I go back to what I said earlier on how I’d hate for people to judge Bob Clark on some of his later films since at one point he made some classics of the horror genre. Tragically Bob Clark was killed in a car accident with his son in 2007 by a drunk driver, but his legacy will forever live on with Black Christmas, which is prime example on how to make a horror movie. I’d advise any filmmaker to study Black Christmas to learn how to structure a movie.

Unlike most films of its type Black Christmas has solid acting and cult Icon John Saxon delivers an excellent performance, Olivia Hussey makes for an excellent and sympathetic final girl and Keir Dullea is rather creepy in another excellent performance in Black Christmas, but it’s Margot Kidder and Marian Waldman that really stand out with hysterical performances.

Overall Black Christmas is one of the more chilling horror movies you’ll see and what it lacks in violence it more than makes up for with suspense and a chilling feel through-out and Billy makes for one of the most chilling villains in any horror film. Its movies like Black Christmas that reminds me why I love the horror genre as much as I do.


























Black Christmas (06) Review

Posted in Black Christmas (2006), Christmas Themed Horror Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 16, 2012 by Last Road Reviews



** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- Terror Is Coming Home for the Holidays

Release Date- December 25th, 2006

Running Time- 92-Minutes

Rating- R

Writer/Director- Glen Morgan

Starring- Katie Cassidy, Michelle Trachtenberg, Kristen Cloke, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Lacey Chabert, Crystal Lowe, Oliver Hudson and Andrea Martin as Barbara MacHenry

Horror purists weren’t too happy about a remake to Bob Clark’s 1974 cult classic Black Christmas and with good reason, but I’m actually not against remakes for the most part, now that doesn’t mean I like the idea that every classic and cult classic has to get a remake, but really remakes are no different than the sequels that dominated the 80s and 90s; both are made to cash in on the success of another movie the only difference is one continues the story the other starts it over. Black Christmas for the longest time was an almost forgotten movie, but over the years it gained a massive cult following and in time that audience grew larger and larger.

Don’t go in expecting the remake to be anything like the original; truth it outside of a few aspects Black Christmas 06 is a totally different movie and feels more like a remake of your run of the mill mid to late 80s slasher flick. Everything that made the original film such a classic of the genre is nowhere to be found in the remake and while the original Black Christmas is prime example on how to make a horror film the remake is one of those movies that sort of falls into the category of so bad its good, well sort of.

What made the original so great was the fact writer Roy Moore doesn’t explain every last detail to the viewer and Billy was very much a mystery. If you listen to what Billy says you can get some insight, but not the whole story, you get just enough info again to get some insight into his psychotic mind, but it still keeps the character mysterious or you can just see what Billy says has nothing more than rants by someone who is clearly insane, but Glen Morgan creates a whole backstory for Billy and thus takes away any mystery the character had in the original. I wouldn’t want Morgan to simply do a rewrite of Roy Moore’s script, but I think he missed what made it such a wonderful screenplay; Billy and Agnes are explained in full detail, but the worst part is the backstory, which was idiotic and silly.

Rob Zombie’s Halloween also had a backstory, but in my opinion at the end of the day Michael was still Michael, but in Black Christmas everything that made Billy so chilling is lost and the phone calls in the movie were rather pointless since everything is already explained the phone calls offer nothing for the movie and feel as if they are just there for the sake of it.

Glen Morgan has done some good work and he’s best known for writing episodes of the X-Files and Final Destination, but as I stated before with his script for Black Christmas he missed everything that made the original so excellent. The characters in the original may not have been the best developed, but they were interesting and had their own identity, but in the remake all the characters are so miserable they’re better off dead and they are all basically the same. Kelli (Cassidy) is the only character that sort of stands out from the rest and is fairly likeable. The screenplay by Morgan very much has faceless victims; at least in the original you could maybe root for some of them whereas here the sooner they die the better.

As director Glen Morgan fairs just as bad; the original Black Christmas had a great sense of eerie atmosphere and always had the feel of looming danger, but Glen Morgan never establishes any sort of tone for the movie and he seemed unsure if he wanted to make a campy flick or a suspenseful flick. Everything in the direction is sloppy with zero suspense. Also despite running at 82-minutes (not counting the credits) it does feel a bit longer than that. Based on interviews it was clear Glen Morgan had no passion for the project and the very much shows in his lifeless direction. He’s stated he’s making a movie the audience wants with gore and jump scares and while sadly this is what the audience wants I think they also want a scary flick something this film sure as hell wasn’t. If the original Black Christmas was made today I’m sure the movie would most likely flop and be called boring by the idiot audience so I understand where Glen Morgan was coming from. But that doesn’t mean he still can’t create any suspense or some kind of eerie tone for the movie. Many of the early 80s slasher flicks like My Bloody Valentine would balance gore with legit attempts at suspense, but Black Christmas only gets the gore done right.

The backstory comes out so idiotic I couldn’t help, but laugh at most of it and the problem I had though was I wasn’t quite clear if it was meant to be comedic. I honestly can’t believe for a second that Glen Morgan thought any of this was scary or creepy, but regardless the way it comes out it’s not clear if it was meant to be campy and that’s just sloppy direction. Everything that happens in the movie I refuse to believe Glen Morgan ever had any intention of making a movie that was scary or suspenseful in any way what so ever. Black Christmas is a very poor made flick, which was surprising since even though I didn’t love Willard I thought it was fairly good and at least well made, but what the hell happened here?

After Willard was a box office flop it made it tough for Glen Morgan to get another job directing and I understand in Hollywood you need success if you wanna keep working, but I can’t respect Glen Morgan for totally selling out and pissing all over the original. By no means do I think the remake in anyways tarnishes the legacy of the original since the movie will always be there for us to view, but it does disrespect everything that made the original the classic chiller it is. Typically in my reviews no matter how negative a review I write I always try and add some positives to the filmmaking, but Glen Morgan doesn’t deserve any credit. If he went into this film with a passion for it I’d ease up, but all he cared about was a paycheck.

The kill scenes are pretty much the same over and over again, but at least there was a decent level of gore something this movie very much needed. When the victims are stabbed it’s done repeatedly and so over the top, which only makes it more hysterical and in no way scary. For some reason Glen Morgan decided to make Billy a cannibal and these scenes are probably the funniest; with the idiotic kill scenes and cannibal Billy it can provide some decent laughs intentional or not.

The cast was fairly good and slasher flicks are often known for having some very hot women and Black Christmas is no different; all the girls are hot and at least we have something nice to look at with all the idiotic moments. The performances are about the only thing really positive about the movie and while none of the performances were great or anything they are strong enough and make the material a little better than how it turned out. All the actors play their roles straight, which does also make it a little funny since everything around them is so absurd, which brings me back to what I said earlier on how Glen Morgan’s direction was unclear on what he was trying to make.

Despite my review on Black Christmas I actually didn’t hate the movie since it’s so idiotic that sometimes that makes the movie fairly entertaining. This is the kind of movie you sit back and just laugh at how idiotic everything happening on screen is, so the movie does provide a little bit of fun. Black Christmas sort of plays out like a parody of the original even if that wasn’t the intention or was it? Based on my first viewing I found the movie idiotic, but a little bit of fun whereas now I just find the movie mostly idiotic. Overall Black Christmas has some fun moments, but overall it’s mostly a dud and an insult to the original. While I can’t really recommend this, but if in the right mood it can provide some laughs due to the horrid filmmaking.

And despite my negative review I would actually watch this again since again its poor, but can also be fun at times.




Silent Night, Deadly Night III: Better Watch Out (1989) Review

Posted in Christmas Themed Horror Reviews, Silent Night, Deadly Night III: Better Watch Out with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 14, 2012 by Last Road Reviews



** ½ Out of 5

Release Date- November 17th, 1989

Running Time- 90-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Carlos Lazlo

Director- Monte Hellman

Starring- Samantha Scully, Richard Beymer, Eric Da Re, Laura Herring, Bill Moseley, Elizabeth Hoffman and Robert Culp as Lt. Connely

For some reason somebody thought it would be a good idea to make another Silent Night, Deadly Night movie and after the 2nd part one has to wonder why anyone would wanna do that. The original is actually a fairly good slasher flick that attempts at being more than a simple stalk and slash movie, but the 2nd one was downright pathetic, but with that said the movie is sort of entertaining due to how bad it was and I enjoyed it for the turkey it was. Silent Night, Deadly Night III while maybe the better made movie compared to the 2nd isn’t really as enjoyable.

Though I wonder if the makers of this saw the previous 2 since it seems they are mistaken Ricky for Billy; Billy of course was the killer in the first part and his brother Ricky was the killer in the 2nd and 3rd, but I think they got confused on the two since clips are shown only from the first movie. And in one scene when Ricky’s crimes are brought up its mentioned how he killed people with an axe in a Santa suit, but that would be Billy actually; the final act of the part 2 does have Ricky with an axe in a Santa suit, but when you think of the look and the weapon it’s Billy in the original; so as you can see we’re already off to a good start (yes sarcasm).

Besides a couple of clips of the original and besides a couple of times using the score from the original in certain spots, Silent Night, Deadly Night III: You Better Watch Out has no real connection to the first 2 movies despite having Ricky as the killer. The Christmas setting is simply used for obvious reasons, but the movie doesn’t even have a Christmas feel, which lacked in the 2nd part, but was very much there in the original. When one thinks of Christmas you think of cold and possibly snow, which was present in the first film since it was shot and took place in Utah, but the 2nd was shot and set in California just like part 3 and you never really get that Christmas feel and when having your movie set on a Holliday you need to capture that atmosphere. I totally get Christmas on the West Coast is different, but I’d prefer a colder setting. Every so often you might see some Christmas decorations, but other than that this movie could have been set on any day and it was only Christmas because it was a sequel to Silent Night, Deadly Night.

The screenplay was written by Carlos Lazlo, but apparently his script was thrown out and re-written by Monte Hellman and Arthur Gorson, but since only Lazlo is credited I’ll only mention him. The script was rather terrible, but did have a few decent ideas, but it’s so poorly written with lame explanations these ideas are pretty much pointless and sloppy; Ricky (Moseley) is in a coma and Dr. Newbury (Beymer) uses Laura (Scully) who is blind and has psychic abilities reach out to Ricky in their dreams; I don’t think it’s ever made clear why the Dr. was doing this and if it was I guess I missed the explanation.

As poor as the screenplay turned out there were some decent ideas presented and the character development, while by no means good is better than one might expect from a movie like this. The lead character Laura isn’t the typical final girl as she does have a bit of an attitude at times, but it’s more of anger due to her tough life. But it was a nice change rather than the nice good girl. However at the same time Laura isn’t very likable or very sympathetic. But besides a few decent ideas the script is so sloppy any good idea is lost.

Director Monte Hellman fails at delivering much suspense or tension; the pacing is sloppy and often a little slow and almost always falls flat. While attempts at creating suspense are made it’s so poorly done and we just go from one poor scene to another. I suppose not every problem can be placed on the direction since even the most talented of filmmakers wouldn’t be able to keep the pace up based off the script, but in the scenes that rely on suspense that is all on Hellman and it never works despite some decent attempts. Ricky moves at a snails pace and it gets quite frustrating seeing him move so slow. Despite reputation slasher flicks have with the slow moving killer they still move at a decent pace, but it would take Ricky an hour to move 5 steps! Having the killer move that slow doesn’t add any suspense its just annoying.

I think the biggest problem with the flick is Monte Hellman tells the story too straight forward; while there are comedic elements shots of Ricky hitchhiking while wearing his Hospital gown is quite silly and when the guy picks him up nothing is said about how Ricky looks. Forget the hospital gown, but how about Ricky’s brain showing with a dome over it that looks like a fish bowl. If Hellman would have aimed at more of a campy flick it would have worked a lot better.

I’ve pretty much trashed the movie, but not all is lost actually; despite how poor the movie was I was never really bored. Now that doesn’t mean I was ever entertained, but it’s such a hack job that it does have some entertainment value. The best part is how Ricky wears a dome over his head to cover his brain and the brain and the dome look like it cost a total of two dollars. Yeah I know this was a low budget production, but that isn’t a valid excuse since many low budget horror flicks have had great F/X and good production values.

The violence is quite tame with most of the death scenes off camera and the ones are shown look rather terrible and off camera may have been the better option; the best we get is a little blood splatter and if really lucky a shot of a decapitated head.

The casting is fairly decent believe it or not with Robert Culp as Lt. Coneley; I guess this was the best he could get at the time. The sexy Laura Herring has a supporting role and Bill Moseley plays Ricky and sadly he’s given little to do besides walk very slowly. Samantha Scully as the lead Laura wasn’t very likeable for the most part, which makes it tougher to sympathize for her, but all the actors are surprisingly decent.

Silent Night, Deadly Night III is nowhere near as good as the original, but better made than part 2 even if not as entertaining. There are some pacing problems and the movie is mostly a bore, but it does work on some level, but my advice is skip it and watch the original again.