There's 2 stories to the beginnings of the “Silent Night Deadly Night” franchise: director Charles Sellier, in the included audio interview, recounts how label LIVE Video wanted a sequel when the first film did very well; on the other hand, director Lee Harry, in the commentary track for the second film, describes a bizarre corporate decision to recut the first film, and pass it off as a sequel!
Sensing an element of ridiculousness, working editor Lee Harry proposed a balance between newly scripted material and flashbacks from the original film – something the producers forced upon the fledgling director – and Harry was compelled to trim more vicious shots from the first film to keep the MPAA calm.
The incorporation of long, long flashback footage, and a lead actor literally cast for a buffed look, ultimately taxes the viewer's patience, until a concluding suburban slaughter offers some minor relief in what's really just a blatant cash-in film. Director Harry's editing skills give the short flashes that presage Eric Freeman's outbursts extra polish, but as Harry explains in the commentary track with his co-writer, money was beyond tight. That major flaw, however, provides some rather funny anecdotes for cheating copyright issues, casting lookalikes for editorial continuity, and grabbing anyone within sneezing distance to fill a shot.
Eric Newman's career was limited to a handful of film and TV work; worthy of a Golden Turkey Award for Worst Performance by a Male Actor, his maniacal eyebrows frequently ripple across the forehead, and the filmmakers point out a key ‘dueling eyebrows' sequence before a Rambo-like shootout. Co-star and co-commentator James Newman was also new to feature movies, and like the filmmakers, he accepted the horror assignment to get his foot in Hollywood 's particleboard door. Though he's enjoyed more film work in recent years, Newman's comments illustrate the dilemmas that an el cheapo sequel can inflict upon an actor hungry for work after years in the theatre.
A natural companion to the first film, “Silent Night Deadly Night: Part 2” was followed by 3 more sequels; each maintained increasingly vague affiliations to the preceding installment, although “Silent Night Deadly Night 4: Initiation” is a classic of a kind, from twisted “Society” director Brian Yuzna.
© 2003 Mark R. Hasan
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