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Friday, December 30, 2016

Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker


Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker
1991
Martin Kitrosser

Derek (William Thorne) wakes up to hear a knocking at the door, opening it, he finds a wrapped present. His father takes the present away from him and sends him to bed. When Derek’s father opens the gift he is killed by the toy contained within. Derek hasn’t spoke in the year following his father’s death, and his mother (Jane Higginson) looks to brighten up his Xmas by purchasing a toy from the shop of one, Joe Petto (Mickey Rooney) and his assistant Pino (Brian Bremer). Unfortunately for Derek, the toys Joe likes to sell children, are anything but playful.

I didn't know there were Romulans in this movie...
In an unusual turn of events, it’s a late direct-to-video sequel that finally fulfills the promise of a horror film franchise. Silent Night, Deadly Night 5 manages to coat itself in a thick layer of holiday trappings, integrate them into the story, and still create something that works as a horror movie.  Like any good exploitation film, the cover of the tape doesn’t exactly tell the truth, so if you go in expecting a horde monstrous toys attacking the unwary, you’re in for disappointment. However, there a few fun twists in the plot and an enjoyably evil turn by Mickey Rooney.

The story itself plays out a little like a Puppet Master (1989) clone, however created with more care and concern about craftsmanship than any Charles Band production. The killer toys only make brief appearances, and while they lack the personality of anything Puppet Master produced, they are enjoyable in their own odd way.  There are killer rocket skates, a strangling Santa ball, and even a call back to Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: The Initiation with ‘Larry the Larva.’ If the names Joe Petto and Pino aren’t dead giveaways to a third act twist, I don’t know what is. Even though the twist is obvious, it’s played out in a way that is both funny and disturbing.

Santa Claus: Genesys
This is the fourth sequel to a very low budget series, and it looks the part. The lighting and set design are functional but never memorable, the music is of the cheapest synthesizer variety. Previous entries manged to make the low-res grunge into part of the aesthetic,  but Silent Night, Deadly Night 5 has (slightly) higher aspirations, and the inherent cheapness works against it.

This is easily the best acted film in the franchise, Mickey Rooney makes a great villain, his actions at odds with his cherubic appearance. It’s also a coup getting him, since he openly condemned the original Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984). At first, Brian Bremmer’s performance as Pino seemed a little one note, but as the film progressed his slow turn to creepy side character and then into something evil as well as pitiable is quite good.

Silent Night, Deadly Night 5 is a completely stand-alone entry in the Silent Night, Deadly Night series, and if slasher movies, or gross-out cult movies aren’t your thing, this is an enjoyable and surprisingly fun entry point for some seasonal horror.

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