It’s kind of a shock to me that the Silent Night, Deadly Night series ran for so long. I never thought that a second entry would be made, yet, here we are, at part five. The original had a band of controversy surrounding it, with angry mothers and overprotective citizens protesting the release of the film. Though it did well at the box office, it was pulled out quickly. One of the protesters was famed actor, Mickey Rooney, who called the creator “scum”, and noted that he should be “run out of town”. Oddly enough, seven years later, Mickey Rooney played Joe Petto, in a little movie called...Silent Night, Deadly Night 5! It seems as though he changed his mind about the ‘forbidden’ film series, and decided, it was all in good Christmas cheer.
In the middle of the night, young Derek (William Thorne) wakes up to hear his parents Sarah and Tom (Jane Higginson and Van Quattro) making love. He sneaks downstairs, and opens the front door. There’s a present lying on the doorstep, and it’s addressed to him! ‘Don’t Open Till Christmas’, reads the card. Anxious Derek can’t contain himself, and tears off the wrapping paper with great speed. But before he can open the box, his father Tom comes down the steps. He is angry that Derek has opened the front door alone and is opening a Christmas present. He sends Derek back to bed, and sits down with the mysterious box. It moves. Tom, curious, opens it up to reveal a Santa sphere. It seems like an entertaining little gadget at first, until the sphere releases strands of string, which wraps around Tom’s head. Panicking, Tom fights with the evil toy, as Derek watches in horror. Tom lands on a fireplace poker, just before Sarah rushes downstairs. She cannot believe her eyes. Tom is dead.
Two weeks later, Sarah is trying to brighten up Derek’s day. He, however, does not feel very talkative. So Sarah takes her son to a toy store, where Joe Petto, a well known friendly face, greets them. They are looking for a toy for Derek. Pino (Brian Bremer), Joe’s son, is acting peculiar and creepy. He won’t stop gawking at the mother and son. Then, a man named Noah (Tracy Fraim) walks into the store. He too stares at the family, though, Sarah does not notice. Finding no admirable toys, Derek gives up, but Pino does not. The teenager hands a centipede toy over to Derek, but Sarah refuses to take it. When Derek and his mother leave the store, Noah purchases the centipede, and walks out.
At Noah’s apartment, toys are lying about everywhere. A knock at the door reveals the landlord, who wants to evict Noah, unless he can pay in cash. Noah doesn’t have enough, but he gives the man the centipede toy for his son instead. The landlord accepts the offer, and drives home. On the ride back, the centipede turns deadly, as it enters the man’s mouth, and exits his eye. The car drives off to the side, and explodes. In the next few days, Derek receives another present, also signed ‘Don’t Open Till Christmas’. He listens this time. Unluckily for Derek’s nosey friend, he does not. Noah pretends to be a Santa at the mall, just to get closer to Derek, and Pino bursts out of Sarah’s closet, startling her and her son. Someone’s playing with toys, only this time, having a blast can kill!
This is certainly an odd duck in the horror genre. It’s a perverted one too. The way Pino and Noah stalk Derek makes them appear to be pedophiles. Pino moves awkwardly from place to place, giving an obvious nod to something being out of the ordinary with him. Mickey Rooney’s performance is terrific, but the others just don’t have much of a visible love for acting. Sarah is sincere in her role, which makes her easily watchable. The horror aura in this unrelated series entry just comes off as cheesy, and in some cases, a movie only kids will get creeped out from. A few moments of bloodshed make this a fairly tame flick, though, it’s obvious when you watch it that it was cut to obtain an R rating. The dialogue is silly, yet, somehow, the film appears well made.
The immediate reaction I get after a night with The Toy Maker is that it is nowhere near as fun as the first one was. A funny head scratching scene, and another odd highlight, is where a boy is making out with his girlfriend and unknown to the couple, they are being watched by killer toys. Then, a toy hand starts to finger the male’s asshole. Yeah, you read correctly. Christmas is well represented with toys and their shop, Derek’s tinsel and tree happy home, and the use of Santa Claus’ costume by quite a few people. This film will rarely satisfy the needs of a hardcore horror fan. It's almost a starter film for fans still at level 1 or 2, if such a type of thing existed.
The original was a gory and fun slasher film, with much to recommend, where as this is a dramatic, fantasy terror, where toys come to life, and wacky twists reveal themselves as the final act wraps up. Surprisingly, it’s alright. The crazy 90s fashions are leaping about, and it tries not to take itself too seriously. Derek passes as a child who does not irritate you to the point of smashing your television set, but he’s not believable either. Perhaps I’m asking for too much. He’s only a young boy after all. Clint Howard (Evilspeak) makes an appearance as Ricky, another mall Santa. It’s strange to see him, seeing as how he starred in Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation, with the same exact name. However, with the drastic change to his character in that movie’s end, it makes no sense that he’s walking around with a bowl full of jelly. If you like some creativity, a potentially great plot, and familiar faces, then you may enjoy this video rarity. Released on VHS by MCA, it won’t be easy to find, but then again, it’s only a so-so time waster. Rent it!
*Now available on DVD through Lionsgate Entertainment.