“And if I die before I wake, thank you.”
1990 – R – 86 Minutes – Lionsgate
Starring Clint Howard, Neith Hunter, Maud Adams – Directed by Brian Yuzna
It’s beginning to look and feel a lot like Christmas, isn’t it? Unless you are reading this any other time than December, anyway, but there is always a cheerful holiday flick to get you in the spirit. Take the Silent Night, Deadly Night franchise for example, a film series that derailed so sharply and quickly, I think it gave me whiplash. Would it surprise you that the fourth installment has literally nothing to do with Christmas? Well, it takes place at Christmas, but that’s where any relation to previous entries or even the Christmas holiday stops. It’s like they had a script to a horror film and weren’t sure how to market it, then realized they owned the rights to this series, made some last minute changes, stapled Silent Night, Deadly Night to it and there ya go… Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation.
Somebody filmed Clint Howard going about his day, covered in his own ofal and eating hamburgers covered in ants that he found on the ground and decided to make a movie. As he is enjoying his meal, a woman cosplaying as the Human Torch falls from a building and splats on the sidewalk. The news seems to write this off as “spontaneous combustion,” because apparently that is a thing. However, eager junior reporter Kim thinks there’s more to it when she catches the news while her boyfriend, Hank, is making sweaty and what looks to be extremely humid sex to her. She wants to report the story, but her boss’ club clearly has a ‘no girls allowed’ sign, but after talking with her co-worker Janice (who’s only excuse for the way men act in this film is, “boys will be boys”) Kim decides to do it anyway.
Everyone wants to seem to write this off as a suicide, which seems like overkill if you are already on fire, but that doesn’t fool Kim. She heads down to the bookstore where she checks out a book, Initiation of the Virgin Goddess and befriends Fima, a suspicious old woman who gets a crystal wind chime sound every time she glances at someone suspiciously… which is constantly. Fima offers Kim a snack that looks like a date, but is something more sinister, as noted by the previously mentioned not-so-subtle music cue. Not a very subtle approach to the true nature of the character. Next on Kim’s to-do-list is check out the roof where the woman had jumped. She climbs to the ledge and seems to be in some kind of trance, when Ricky comes out of nowhere and yanks goopy, giant arm sized maggot out from a vent and shows it to Kim as if he is saying, “Look at what the special effects guys made! It may not make sense, but it looks cool!” End scene. I’m sure it will make sense somewhere.
Kim gets home and things totally begin to ‘bug’ out as her apartment is now crawling with cockroaches. She flips threw her recently checked out book and comes across a symbol of women’s power, which her spaghetti has somehow taken the shape of! What could this mean? Is the flying spaghetti monster real? No time to think about it, she’s running late for dinner at Hank’s parent house, where his father berates her for being Jewish, further proving that all men think very little of women (in this movie). Hank tries to apologize to her by groping her outside, but she doesn’t take it and heads home where more illusions and bugs are happening. Kim passes out from the weirdness (and you might be as well), but is woken up the next day by Janice just in time to make it to the creepy picnic where she meets two of Fima’s friends. They drink wine and act suspiciously like they are in some kind of cult as Kim is passing out. Hank arrives and picks her up from work, which she had ditched to go to this picnic. Priorities, Kim, priorities.
Kim and Hank check out the spot where the woman on fire commited suicide or whatever and find a recently drawn symbol that is starting to look familiar, so Kim takes off to Fima’s apartment for some tea. So this is the second time she has blown of a story she is supposedly interested in? And she wonders why her boss won’t give her an assignment. As Fima tells Kim that she reminds her of her daughter Lilith, Kim starts to get drowsy. Fima is now demanding Kim eat another date, making her the most aggressive date saleswoman ever.
Kim wakes up to what can only be described as a fever dream, where Fima and her friends strip Kim of her clothes, paint some symbols on her and slice a rat open over her as Ricky places the giant maggot on her stomach from earlier, which begins to bore into her stomach. Weird, I get the same dreams whenever I eat Arby’s. Kim awakens again in Fima’s apartment and leaves, but that dream must have got her feeling frisky as she starts having the intercourse with Hank once she gets home. Ricky enters the apartment and begins watching Silent Night, Deadly Night 3…
…Wait, what? Nevermind.
Hank finally notices that some weirdo is in the room watching a crappy horror movie and is stabbed to death by Ricky, just as Janice is calling and Kim answers. Typical woman on the phone while her boyfriend is being murdered. Sheesh. Ricky manages to capture Kim just as Janice is arriving, but in a shocking twist, Janice scolds Ricky for making a mess of the situation, revealing she is part of that cult! Kim, having passed out AGAIN is now waking up surrounded by the cult only to have a sweaty, doughy, hairy Clint Howard wearing a mask from A Clockwork Orange and thrusting at the camera. Merry Christmas, everyone!
Another hallucination and another passing out later, Kim is officially part of the club! Hooray? After chatting with Fima at the bookstore, we learn that woman who died at the beginning was Lilith, Fima’s daughter, who wasn’t strong enough. Strong enough for what, I don’t know. They never really get into what this cult’s ultimate plan is. Maybe it’s to get Clint Howard laid, in which case, mission accomplished. Anywho, Kim has now taken the place of Lilith and must sacrifice a man or else she will be set ablaze too. Always read the fine print when you join a cult.
So the plan is a Christmas kidnapping (hey, there’s the tie in to the series) of Hank’s little brother Lonnie, which goes pretty smoothly actually (after Ricky murders his parents, of course), where he is to be sacrificed on the roof, should Kim fulfill her destiny. Or do you think she will kill Fiona and Ricky, thus adopting Lonnie and appearing briefly in the sequel?
At the end of the movie, you will slump back in your sofa with a nearly permanent dumbfound expression on your face and think, “What the hell did that have to do with Christmas?” and “How did this series get so far away from what made the original so great?” I get that they wanted to do something different, but that’s not always a good thing, especially when the movie isn’t even relatable to neither the series or a certain holiday it’s supposed to take place during. It’s really mind boggling that someone felt that a sequel to Silent Night, Deadly Night 3 needed to be rushed immediately, saw this script and thought, “Perfect!” The characters are so one dimensional, that it makes comic strip characters seem full of life. Everyone seems to be playing a harsh stereotype of something, whether it’s how chauvinistic men can be or the powerful witchy women, it seems like someone had a single view on how people are represented and rolled with it. They make the Punch-Out games look subtle in their stereotyping. Not all is bad though, I mean, the practical effects are pretty good, but you get good stuff when it’s a Brian Yuzna film with Screaming Mad George effects. It’s goopy and gross and it’s sure to capture the holiday spirit.
As far as the Silent Night, Deadly Night series goes, Initiation is by far the most detached, having dropped the whole killer Santa angle. After Part 2, for whatever reason, the films become more Sci-Fi influenced, which is a really bizarre decision for Christmas themed movies. They most likely wanted to try something different, a new spin on something old, but if there is anything the slasher genre should have learned, it’s that you should never stray away from the formula. In this case though, I don’t think it would matter. Even if you take it out of the franchise and look at it as its own film, Initiation really isn’t that interesting and it should be, most likely due to the flat feeling I’ve continuously mentioned. Aside from the few gross out moments that are intentionally thrown at you for the sake of being gross, there is nothing of value or entertaining to watch.
If there is anything Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation has taught me, it’s that men are chauvinistic pigs and women are mystical cult witches with super powers. Can’t trust anyone. Anyway, with giant maggots, women on fire and a sweaty, naked Clint Howard, I say Merry Christmas!