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Best Worst Sequel ‘Silent Night, Deadly Night 2’ Turns 30 Years Old Today

Happy #NationalGarbageDay, friends.

In the annals of bad horror sequels, none are more infamous than Silent Night, Deadly Night 2. Released in 1987, three years after the first film came out, the Lee Harry-directed sequel was, in hindsight, tailor made for internet obsession. Driven by an insanely over the top performance from Eric Freeman, SNDN 2 was recently embraced as an unintentionally hilarious gem by a new generation of fans, becoming internet famous decades after its initial release. The hunt for Freeman, who seemed to be hiding due to embarrassment, became the stuff of internet legend.

How did Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 become the movie it ended up being? And why is so much of the runtime devoted to recapping footage from its predecessor? It’s a fascinating story.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Lee Harry for a Silent Night, Deadly Night retrospective I wrote back in 2014, and Harry explained to me that he got the gig because of his editing skills. At the time, Harry had never directed a film, but he was hired by the producers because the original plan was to not actually make a new film at all. Rather, they wanted to re-edit the original Silent Night, Deadly Night and turn it into a “new” movie they could repackage as a sequel. SNDN was a huge hit at the box office, and they wanted to cash in without spending any money.

But Harry and partner Joseph H. Earle dreamed a little bigger, convincing the studio to give them $250,000 and 10 days to film some new footage that they could cut together with scenes from the controversial 1984 hit. Their story was that Ricky, the younger brother of the original film’s killer, follows in Billy’s footsteps and goes on a holiday killing spree of his own. And it was the lead casting of Eric Freeman, a novice actor with only a few small roles under his belt, that would ensure (unbeknownst to anyone at the time) Silent Night, Deadly Night 2‘s cult status.

Freeman’s gleefully over the top performance as the demented Ricky is of course the standout highlight of the film – the meme-worthy line “garbage day!!” is known even to those who have no idea what movie it came from. In preparation for the aforementioned retrospective I wrote back in 2014, I had a 2-hour phone chat with Freeman, who was still very much “in hiding” at the time. Freeman made no excuses for his performance, but noted that Harry offered him very little in the form of direction. Freeman’s performance, he told me, was mostly fueled by co-writer Joseph Earle, who would scream words like “MORE!” and “CRAZIER!” from the sidelines. Under those conditions, it’s not hard to see why the young Freeman’s acting was so, well, batshit insane.

He even explained to me that he originally delivered the “garbage day!” line in a monotone, Clint Eastwood-style way. Earle, however, insisted he go over the top. And thank god for that.

“There are not many performances as awful as that,” Freeman admitted to me.

Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 was released in April of 1987, and it failed to generate the money or interest the first one did. It wasn’t until many years later that the internet made it legend.

Happy 30th to one of the best worst horror movies of them all!



COMMENTS

8 Comments
  • Saturn

    I remember the first time I saw the movie (you have to remember that it’s been banned in the UK since the 1980’s due to the Hungerford massacre) I was a little disappointed with it – but over the years I have grown to love it. I watch it every Xmas without fail and love it more and more….

    • MarsupialRebellion

      I looked that up and could find nothing about it. Was the era of the video nasties over by this point??

      • Saturn

        The Hungerford Massacre (as it was known) was what led to much stricter gun control laws over here in the UK (we were allowed them upon a time!).
        Due to Ricky’s “shooting spree” it was deemed that the film should not be allowed a certificate (it wasn’t officially banned like some of the video nasties from a few years earlier, but it was refused a certificate so essentially banned, similar to it’s predecessor- and if you were caught importing it? The police would treat you like a bad boy). The Rambo movies came into question once more also, as it was claimed that Michael Ryan (the shooter) was fixated with the movies – up until pretty recent time Rambo 2 and 3 were pretty heavily cut over here and the media over here made claims that he was copying scenes (that didn’t exist!) from First Blood!!

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hungerford_massacre

  • This movie is such a glorious piece of shit.

  • MAGLAVERAS VASILIOS

    there was a friend of mine who wanted to find the original 1984 film but couldn’t find it for a reason (years ago) and I told him if he had part 2. he said yes. then I told him……DUDE IF U HAVE PART 2 U DON’T REALLY NEED PART 1. U HAVE BOTH FILMS IN…..ONE. IT’S LIKE U GET TWO PIZZAS IN THE PRICE OF ONE……LOL

    This shit is so bad it’s a must own for any horror fan who respect himself……LOL

  • GARBAGE DAY?!

  • aFriendlyAgenda

    I never watched these movies until recently
    Seemed like another negligible holiday-slasher also ran as far as I knew

    It turns out the whole series is fascinating!
    From utterly bad way all the way to utterly awesome

    If its good enough for Monte Hellman to direct one thats good enough for me anyday!
    And thats even before Reggie Bannister, Clint Howard and Mickey Rooney show up!

    Awesome stuff!

  • Meisha’s Taint

    I found this for a few bucks at good will. Super stoked for this xmas!

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