Christmas Movies: Silent Night, Deadly Night 3 – Better Watch Out! (1989)

silent night 3

With the sequels I watch, I get to wondering just why some producers bother with them. How much name value does a “Project Shadowchaser” or “Nemesis” sequel have? When you get to “Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out!”, and it’s more difficult to crowbar in some continuity than it is to just make a new film, I say let it go.

But if they had, we wouldn’t have films like this. Oh wait, that’s a good thing because THIS SUCKED – come on, Mark, game face, you have to get through this. A young woman, Laura, is having a nightmare about the footage from part 1, and it turns out she’s blind, and has a psychic link with Ricky, our murdering friend from part 2, who is in the next room over to where she’s participating in an experiment. This is all down to some doctor who’s just trying to push the boundaries of science, dammit! Ricky, meanwhile, was evidently shot so badly that it changed his appearance, plus he took a few to the dome as the top of his skull is now a glass case half filled with some sort of fluid. It’s pretty gross:

bill moseley

What? I guess they’re relying on people not watching the two films particularly close together, because if you watched it, say, yesterday, you’ll remember that Ricky got shot in the chest, not the head. Not quite as bad as the “hey, it wasn’t Michael that you killed repeatedly” switcheroo between the last two Halloween films, but…ah, screw it.

When you discover the director of this, it sort of throws you for a loop, because you start wondering “was it made bad on purpose? For some cinematic reason?” Monte Hellman got his start with Roger Corman in the 60s before making minor classic “Two Lane Blacktop” in 1971 (plus he made the fantastic “Road To Nowhere” a few years ago). I’m not saying he’s a great auteur, and indeed this film evidently traumatised him to the extent that he retired from directing for 17 years, but he’s not just some shmuck.

Of course, once you get over the surprise of seeing his name on the credits, you can get back to realising this was no doubt some work for hire he didn’t give two hoots about, and it sucks the same way every other bad movie sucks. Laura gets picked up by her brother to go to their Gran’s house for Christmas (parents dead, natch), and all it takes is a drunk Santa to wander into Ricky’s room to wake him from his coma and get him back to doing what he does best – murdering a fairly random stream of people on his way to…do something with Laura?…completely ignoring even the limited rules he established in the second movie.

better watch out

One conversation sums up about the terrible pointlessness of about three-quarters of this movie – the main cop and the doctor are driving to try and stop Ricky, and for absolutely no reason whatsoever have a long conversation about carphones. Were they that exciting in 1989? No one seems all that bothered about catching or being caught by Ricky, anything remotely exciting happens off screen, Ricky never breaks into anything other than a slow stroll and never speaks other than to whisper “Laura” from time to time, and, worst of all, NO-ONE SMASHES THAT STUPID GLASS DOME COVERING HIS EXPOSED BRAIN

Probably coincidentally, two of the actors from this (Richard Beymer and Eric DaRe) would work on “Twin Peaks” a year later, and Laura Harring would go on to be in “Mulholland Drive”; although I do love the image of David Lynch popping this on one evening and saying “there’s my actors!” It’s got, for the garbage third instalment of a garbage franchise, a fairly strong cast, which includes Robert Culp as a cheerful cop who appears not to have been told what the movie’s about, but…

It’s just so boring! It doesn’t have the nihilism of part 1, or the ludicrous overacting of part 2, it’s just a very slow slasher film. Until the last ten minutes of the movie, no-one defends themselves against Ricky or thinks of attacking him; Laura is the worst screamer maybe in horror history, plus she plays the part as if she’s on heavy sedatives, not blind; and, if such a thing is possible, it’s even less to do with Christmas than part 2. Okay, a Santa gets Ricky up and killing again, but that’s pretty much the last mention of Christmas the movie has to give us. Why bother? Did the franchise have any fans left at this point? The whole psychic subplot is barely relevant, only existing so Ricky can find out where Laura lives and, even though he has to shuffle out of the hospital (in his gown and dome-head), flag down a lift, kill the driver, stop at a petrol station and kill the attendant, then drive all the way to Laura’s gran’s house, comfortably beating her there.


Still, only two to go, plus a 2012 remake. So three. It can’t get any worse than this, right?

Rating: thumbs down


2 thoughts on “Christmas Movies: Silent Night, Deadly Night 3 – Better Watch Out! (1989)

  1. Pingback: The ISCFC vs. Horror Franchises |

  2. Pingback: The Punisher (2004) |

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