Silent Night, Deadly Night III: Better Watch Out! (1989)

Silent Night, Deadly Night III: Better Watch Out! (1989)

When Your Nightmare Ends, the Real Terror Begins!

Ricky Caldwell, the Santa Claus killer, is now in a coma and wearing a protective dome to shield his exposed brain which was badly damaged when he was caught. The doctors at the hospital are trying to use a young blind girl with ESP powers to get into his mind. But all this succeeds in doing is awakening Ricky from his coma and he pursues the girl, leaving a trail of bodies in his wake.

 

After the stock footage fiasco that was Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2, I’m not sure how anyone could have given the green light to a second sequel but here we are with further proof than even the most obscure horror films can bring about never-ending hell-spawned sequels. And not only that but one of the most idiotic plots ever conceived. One look at the sight of zombie-like Ricky wearing his bubble hat will have you in stitches.

Well at least Silent Night, Deadly Night III: Better Watch Out! is better than the first sequel, although that’s mostly due to the fact that isn’t just recycled footage from the original. There’s an eerie fantasy-like mood to the film as the killer and Laura share a psychic bond and he’s able to get inside her head and vice versa, leading to a few nightmarish sequences. And I’ll credit the script for at least trying to make something a bit more ambitious than the usual cookie-cutter slasher film. But trying to take the threat of the daft killer presented to us as deadly and credible is just a stretch too far.

At least the character of Ricky is brought back from Part 2 and adds some continuity to the series. But this is about where the franchise ends its connections as the whole idea of a ‘Santa slasher’ seems to have been discarded. In this one, Santa is not the killer but one of the victims. His replacement, the ludicrous visage of Ricky slowly staggering around with his brain exposed, makes for potentially the worst slasher ever designed. Who in their right mind could take this character seriously as a threat? In badly-written fashion which is emblematic of the entire film, Ricky manages to escape from the hospital wearing just his gown and his silly protective hat and then seems to have no problem being picked up by a driver who mistakes him for a hitchhiker. If you saw this brain-dead, virtual walking corpse at the side of the road, you’d speed up and fly past. Its dumb plotting and is all-too-lazy for the killer to be able to achieve his goals.

It also amazes me that he manages to kill anyone as he swings so slow, walks at snails pace and generally seems to have little interest in butchering people. The body count is low and there’s not a lot of blood on offer for those wanting to see it. However, it all becomes apparent why the character of Ricky has been written like this to – for the eventual showdown with the blind girl. I mean if he was Jason Voorhees-esque in his superpowers, he’d have destroyed her in a second. But being as slow and immobile as Laura, the odds are evened somewhat (even though he can still see her). Ricky’s leisurely pace is mirrored by the pace of the film, unsure of when to get going and continually taking its time to do anything worthwhile.

Bill Moseley assumes the role of Ricky here but doesn’t really do anything apart from stumble around like some low-rent Frankenstein monster. Moseley would go on to more genre fame as loudmouth Otis Firefly in House of 1,000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects so it’s nice to see him restricted to a few mumbling lines of dialogue here. Samantha Scully makes for a highly appealing heroine as Laura and plays the part with compassion, making her easy to sympathise with and root for during the tense moments. She’s quite convincing at portraying a blind person too.

 

Silent Night, Deadly Night III: Better Watch Out at least tries to do something a little off-beat with the material it has been given but ends up being its own worst enemy, with lazy scripting and a leisurely pace. It’s still better than Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 though.

 

 ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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