Combustible Celluloid
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With: Richard Beymer, Bill Moseley, Samantha Scully, Eric DaRe, Laura Harring, Elizabeth Hoffman, Robert Culp, Richard C. Adams, Melissa Hellman, Isabel Cooley, Leonard Mann, Carlos Palomino, Marc Dietrich, Jim Ladd, Richard N. Gladstein
Written by: Carlos Lazlo, based on a story by Monte Hellman, Arthur Gorson, Carlos Lazlo
Directed by: Monte Hellman
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 90
Date: 11/17/1989

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

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Christmas with the Devil

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

As a fan of director Monte Hellman (The Shooting, Two-Lane Blacktop), I watched Silent Night, Deadly Night III: Better Watch Out, keeping a close watch for Hellman's style. It comes up a few times, most notably in the opening sequence, a nightmare in which Laura Anderson (Samantha Scully, a beautiful Jennifer Connelly lookalike) races around in all-white corridors, trying to escape the murderous clutches of Santa Claus killer "Ricky" (Bill Moseley). Hellman uses wide angles and distorted space to suggest the dilemma, and there are a few other interesting touches along the way. When she's not dreaming, Laura is blind and has psychic abilities, and Dr. Newbury (Richard Beymer) has been using her in experiments as a way to reach Ricky. Unfortunately, Ricky escapes on Christmas Eve and follows Laura, her brother Chris (Eric DaRe) and Chris' smokin' hot girlfriend Jerri (Laura Elena Harring) as they make their way to grandma's house for the holiday. Meanwhile the doctor and a police lieutenant (Robert Culp) drive around, trying to find them, while the lieutenant tries to sell the doctor a cell phone. Occasionally characters watch The Terror (1963), on television, which Hellman helped make during his Roger Corman days. Eventually the dumb characters and miniscule plot catch up and surpass anything that might have had auteur interest, but I'm still curious as to how and why Hellman made this. (Too bad there's no commentary track.) Lionsgate finally released this on DVD in 2009, as part of a three disc box set, which also includes Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation (1990) and Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker (1991).

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