|Review||Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out! (1989)||Director||Monte Hellman|
|Writer||Rex Weiner (as Carlos Laszlo)|
|Cast||Samantha Scully, Bill Moseley, Richard Beymer, Eric DaRe, Laura Harring, Elizabeth Hoffman, Leonard Mann and Robert Culp|
“I don’t want to see the future…or the past. I just want to be normal” – Laura
Dr. Newbury (Beymer) is conducting experiments with blind Laura (Scully) where he’s testing her psychic abilities and trying to uncover a possible connection to comatose patient Ricky Caldwell (Moseley), the serial killer from “Silent Night, Deadly Night: Part 2” (1987). There seems to be a connection between the two and once Ricky awakens from his coma he goes after Laura, who’s gone with her brother Chris (DaRe) and his girlfriend (Harring) to her grandmother’s (Hoffman) house for Christmas. Ricky leaves behind him a bloody trail and along comes Det. Connelly (Culp) to try and capture him before he kills any more people.
I had been looking forward to seeing this movie and, for the most part, I was pleased with the result. I quite like “Silent Night, Deadly Night” (1984) and view it every Christmas. It effectively blends sleaze, gore and horror and sets it up decently with a solid story where a youngster witnesses the bloody murder of his parents by a lunatic in a Santa suit and it scars him irreparably. Part 2 continues with the brother of the first film’s killer and that film is legendary in it’s own right. It uses a lot of footage from the original to pad out the run time, is very rough around the edges but has an amusing lead performance and made a classic out of the line “It’s Garbage Day”. It’s not very good but it is somewhat entertaining for forgiving slasher enthusiasts.
The killer in Part 2, Ricky Caldwell, was seemingly dispatched of in the end but as we see in “Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out!” he’s a coma patient (with the top half of his head exposed and protected by a sort of helmet) who’s considered unlikely to ever regain consciousness. He does though, of course, and we’re greeted with a few kills as he meanders his way to Grandma’s house. As this was made for TV the kills aren’t very gruesome or imaginatively staged but rather perfunctory.
The director of this is none other than the late Monte Hellman. Not a director who hit it real big but a very respected one with some genuine late 60’s and early 70’s influential work in the independent scene; my favorite of which is “Two Lane Blacktop” – 1971. A filmmaker who deliberately eschewed mainstream moviemaking; “Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out!” was not a passion project but, as one of Hellman’s friend speaks of in the supplements on the disc, he treated it seriously, never apologized for it and was ultimately proud of his achievement. Said pride may have stemmed from overcoming budgetary limitations and time constraints etc. and delivering a coherent product but overall this third instalment is better than the second one and is the real finale in the “Silent Night, Deadly Night” franchise as parts 4 and 5 have no connecting tissue with the first three.
The film is really quite OK. Hellman conjures up a reasonable amount of gloomy atmosphere and dials up the weirdness factor with a prolonged dream sequence to start up the film and some eerie premonitions Laura has after she’s established a connection with Ricky. That’s not to mention the mere appearance of Ricky with the freaky helmet which partially exposes his brain. The murder set-pieces are fairly underwhelming (or simply off-screen) it must be said but at least the film flows well with decent scenes between the action, so to speak. The screenplay, while no masterpiece, is fairly good with some amusing lines particularly in scenes involving Det. Connelly and Dr. Newbury and show the film is fairly tongue in cheek without making fun of the material.
Performances are overall decent with Scully, DaRe and Harring passable as the youngsters in peril while veterans Beymer and particularly Culp impress in their roles; they also are supplied with the best dialogue. Hoffman also manages to make an impression in her small role. Also on hand is Leonard Mann, from “Night School” (1981), as a shrink but it’s merely a cameo appearance. Last but not least is Mosely who’s quite the sight to see as Ricky and he comes off as very weird so…it goes down as a decent performance.
“Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out!” is no great shakes but it’s a decent finale in this Santa slasher series and might just become an annual watch in my household.