There are a number of horror movie sequels that live up to or in some cases even surpass the quality of their respective originals. Halloween II and Friday the 13th Part 2 come to mind as sequels that are, at the very least, on par with the originals and, many would argue, even better in some ways. I think it’s safe to say no one has ever made that argument for Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a memorable sequel. In fact, thanks to a viral internet meme, a clip from this movie might very well rank amongst the most-viewed horror scenes of all time. Not only did the “Garbage Day” meme give Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 a little boost in popularity, it also managed to boost momentum for the years-long search to find the movie’s long-lost star.
Part 2 is set a few years after the events of Silent Night, Deadly Night, with Ricky, the younger brother of the first movie’s killer, locked in a mental hospital for his own set of murders. Ricky tells the hospital psychiatrist about his brother’s killing spree as well as the story of his own crimes, but revenge is on his mind and he soon escapes to seek out the nun he blames for his brother’s death.
Back in 1984, Silent Night, Deadly Night had been pulled from theaters only a few days after its release due to the protests of angry parents who felt its depiction of Santa as an ax murderer was terrorizing their children. While it eventually did well in the home video market, the movie never really got its due on the big screen, and after a couple of years the rights to the movie were sold. That sale resulted in the following conversation between the new owners:
Movie Owner 1: “Well, looks like we own this movie now, huh?”
Movie Owner 2: “Yeah.”
Movie Owner 1: “That’s pretty cool.”
Movie Owner 2: “Yeah.”
Movie Owner 1: “So what the hell do we do with it?”
Movie Owner 2: “What if we just put all the scenes in a different order and then release it as Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2?”
Movie Owner 1: “Brilliant! No one will ever figure that out. We’ll be rich!”
Okay, so I may be paraphrasing a bit, but I can’t be too far off because that’s exactly what they planned on doing. They approached Lee Harry to direct, not because of his directing experience (he had none) but because of his editing experience and asked him to recut the movie. To his credit, he said he would take the job only if he could film at least a few new scenes to mix in with the old footage in order to make it an actual sequel. They agreed and scraped together around $100,000 to cover eight days of shooting resulting in an amazing train-wreck of a film that was half old and half new. That doesn’t mean the movie is without its merits.
The highlight, without a doubt, is the performance of Eric Freeman who plays grown-up Ricky. He doesn’t so much act in this movie as punch each scene in the balls with a fistful of rolled up nickels. Most noticeably, his eyebrows bounce metronomically up and down in sync with the words he speaks as if he is using them to tap out a Morse Code version of his dialog. It’s not just that his performance is over the top, it redefines where the top is and then kicks away the ladder so that no one else even has a chance to reach it. By all acting standards (and according to his own words), his performance is terrible, but it is also the sole reason to watch the movie and without it, Silent Night Deadly Night Part 2 would have been completely forgotten. Which brings us to Garbage Day. There’s plenty that can be said about the Garbage Day clip, but I think it speaks for itself just fine. I will say for those who haven’t seen the movie, however, that neither garbage nor garbage day have any significance to the rest of the story whatsoever, so the scene really just comes out of nowhere. Enjoy!
Freeman made some small movie and television appearances for the next few years and then disappeared from acting in 1992. In 2003, Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 was released on DVD that included a commentary with director Lee Harry who said he had wanted to invite Freeman to be a part of the commentary but that he couldn’t be found. Websites were set up, internet theories were tossed around, and the search was on to find Eric Freeman. In 2006, the Garbage Day clip was uploaded to YouTube, receiving millions of views, inspiring parodies, and raising even more interest in finding out what had become of the Garbage Day Guy. In 2013, that question was finally answered when Freeman contacted a horror-movie blogger revealing that he had simply decided to quit acting all those years ago because he felt his career wasn’t really going anywhere. He hadn’t been in hiding or died mysteriously; he’d just been doing normal-guy things and didn’t know anyone was looking. Seemingly uninterested in making horror-convention appearances after being found, he made one public appearance at a screening of Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 and then quietly disappeared back to his private life.
I’m not going to tell you Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 is a good movie – it isn’t, and if you’ve seen Silent Night, Deadly Night, you’ve already seen more than half of Part 2. But I’m also not going to tell you you shouldn’t watch it – you should, because there’s just nothing like it. If it’s cheese you like, it’s cheese you’ll get, and at a super-high level. I promise you won’t regret it.