Christmas With The Psychopaths : “Silent Night, Deadly Night 5 : The Toy Maker”

Posted: December 29, 2010 in movies
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"Silent Night, Deadly Night 5 : The Toy Maker" Poster

And we wrap up the Silent Night, Deadly Night series in 1991, when Brian Yuzna returns (this time in the producer’s chair, with co-writer Martin Kitrosser directing) to again take the series in a seriously different direction.

This time around, Christmas is central to the story, which makes fora welcome change from the last installment, and the psycho-in-a-Santa-suit theme is back as well (sort of, it’s not really central to things, as you’ll see), but there any similarities to what has gone before end. Let me just whet your appetite for this flick by saying this much — it starts with a killer toy making mincemeat of some hapless stepdad and ends with a dickless robot humping away at the erstwhile heroine of the story and screaming “I love you mommy!!!!!!!”

Interested yet? I figured you would be, you sick fuck (takes one to know one). In between all that we’ve got a pretty bizarre little story, too — the dead guy’s stepkid, Derek, is understandably traumatized due to having witnessed his replacement father’s murder, and to cheer him up, his clueless mother, Sarah, offers to buy him a toy. She’s not just taking him to any toy store, though, she’s taking him to Joe Petto’s shop. Petto is something of an anachronism — in a world filled with Cabbage Patch Dolls and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, he still makes the toys he sells himself, in the workshop in the back of his store. Problem is, Petto’s gone off the deep end and is building toys specifically designed to kill their owners (namely, children) — there’s just one hitch : grown-ups seem to be stumbling across all his toys first and getting the deadly surprises he’s actually intended for the tots. Joe’s got an (apparently) unwitting accomplice in all this mayhem, too — his (again, apparently) teenage son, Pino, who doesn’t seem to age —

Okay, it’s painfully obvious what we’ve got going on here — a psycho version of Pinocchio. And while that’s a fun enough idea in and of itself, it’s the casting that makes this straight-to-video curiosity really stand out. First off, we’ve got a visibly autistic guy named Brian Bremer playing Pino. It’s hard to tell if he even knows what he’s really doing here. And as if that’s not enough, portraying his “dad,” Joe Petto, is none other than old-time Hollywood legend Mickey Rooney! Now, Rooney is scary enough in the film’s less lurid scenes, but as the full extent of his depravity becomes known (alcoholic, abusive father, child killer — you know the drill), he really pulls out all the stops and delivers a performance that is, if this doesn’t sound too contradictory, blood-curdlingly hilarious. And just to digress here for a brief moment, it’s worth considering that Rooney is one of the celebrities who was so shocked and appalled — just shocked and appalled, I tell you! — by the first Silent Night film that he added his voice to the coterie of busybodies who eventually succeeded in getting it pulled from theaters prematurely. I guess their money’s as good as anyone’s, though, and seeing how Rooney’s got something like eight or nine ex-wives to pay, he’s more than willing to put his high-and-mighty principles aside when the rubber hits the road.

There are a couple of tangential links to the series’ fourth cinematic chapter on hand here — Neith Hunter is back as Sarah, this time in a much-reduced role (she’s just shown as being the mom of a teenage kid), and Clint Howard returns as Ricky, who’s apparently moved up a bit in the world given that he’s no longer homeless and has a gig as one of Santa’s helpers at a local mall. That’s about it as far as connections to anything that’s happened previously, though, until Rooney/Petto puts on a Santa costume for his crazed finale, thus establishing a thematic link with the franchise’s beginnings (and given that this installment proved to be the end of the series, that ends up bookending things rather nicely).

On the technical front, Silent Night, Deadly Night 5 : The Toy Maker is, once again, available as part of the three-DVD Silent Night, Deadly Night Collection from Lionsgate. The digitally-remastered full-frame transfer again looks very nice, the Dolby Digital 2.0 sound mix is perfectly acceptable, and there are no extras included on the disc to speak of. Don’t let the bare-bones presentation scare you off from seeing this one, though —The Toy Maker isn’t the cream of the SNDN crop (that would be part 3), but it’s definitely the most surreal of the bunch, and your humble host recommends it very highly indeed.

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