Face Off: Silent Night, Deadly Night 4 vs. Silent Night, Deadly Night 5

Not only did SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT stir up a huge amount of controversy upon its 1984 debut, it also earned a strong cult following and kicked off a franchise. After the first two sequels followed up on the "killer Santa" storyline of the original, the series then branched off into anthology territory, similar to what John Carpenter attempted to do with the HALLOWEEN franchise with HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH. While the first SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT has endured as a holiday favorite that is probably being watched by many Arrow in the Head readers this holiday season, its sequels have become more obscure, so I thought it would be fun to shine a little light on them and see which of the non-Santa-slasher entries in the series would come out on top in a Face-Off - Brian Yuzna's INITIATION: SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT 4 or Martin Kitrosser's SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT 5: THE TOY MAKER.
Investigating the death of a woman from spontaneous combustion leads Kim Levitt, a journalist hampered by sexism in the workplace, into the clutches of a coven of witches who want to put her through a surreal initiation into their ranks. This story goes in some very strange directions, but rarely is any of it particularly interesting.
As people around a young boy named Derek keep dying brutal, bizarre deaths caused by dangerously modified toys, it starts to become clear that toy shop owner Joe Petto and his oddball son Pino are somehow involved in the mayhem. A little less strange and a bit more intriguing than INITIATION, THE TOY MAKER isn't great but provides some entertainment.
The Nice list is quite short in INITIATION. Even our heroine Kim starts to take a questionable path as the coven gradually wields more and more power over her. Agreeing to the kidnapping and sacrifice of a young boy to save your own skin is very likely to earn you a lump of coal from Santa.
#1 on the Nice list is Derek, a good kid who is forced to deal with some very unreasonable things and is made mute by the trauma. His mom Sarah does the best she can for him, and eventually gets an assist from her ex Noah, who at first takes a rather creepy approach to getting back into their lives.
From the witches led by two-time Bond girl Maud Adams to a sexist boss played by PHANTASM's Reggie Bannister, there are plenty of Naughty people to choose from. The standout is Clint Howard as the witch's homeless servant Ricky, who creeps around being disgusting and provides two of the movie's best sequences, both of them horrifying home invasions.
Just seven years after speaking out against SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT, Mickey Rooney ended up starring in one of its sequels. His Joe Petto isn't so nice behind the scenes, but his naughtiness is trumped by that of his son Pino, a horny but anatomically incorrect living toy that wants a mommy, in more ways than one, and wants Derek out of the way so he can claim Sarah as his own.
You can count on FX artist Screaming Mad George to gross you out, and the madman doesn't disappoint with the weirdness he was tasked to create for this one. Giant, slimy larvae; massive, vomited cockroaches; body parts wrapping themselves together... If you have a weak stomach, don't watch INITIATION around mealtime.
The special effects of THE TOY MAKER are largely of a more fun variety, consisting primarily of the deadly toys. In a nod to INITIATION, there is a killer toy larvae, as well as an evil toy Santa, toy soldiers with flesh-piercing bullets, an RC car with spinning blades, and more, all of them leaving victims a mess.
The Christmas setting feels completely incidental. The witch initiation story could have occurred at any time of the year, and is mostly only tied in with the holiday through locations - the characters walk past some Christmas decorations and attend a couple Christmas parties, but this isn't a very Christmasy movie at all.
The concept of an evil toy maker and murderous toys is a great idea for a Christmas horror movie, and the film embraces its holiday setting, even bringing some bad Santa action back into the series with the aforementioned Santa toy and by having its villain carry out some evil deeds while wearing a Santa costume.
With more likeable characters and a more franchise-appropriate story that makes better use of the holiday setting, SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT 5: THE TOY MAKER manages to earn a victory over INITIATION: SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT 4. I know most SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT fans don't venture very far into the sequels, and while I can't recommend INITIATION for some Christmas chills, I do feel that THE TOY MAKER deserves at least a little more attention than it receives. There is some fun to be had with it.

Have you seen these sequels? If so, let us know what you think of them by leaving a comment below. If there's a Face-Off match-up you're dying to see, you can send the suggestion to me at [email protected].

Happy holidays!



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