Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker (25 Days of Shitmas, Day #13)

1984 - Mickey Rooney goes on the attack against Silent Night, Deadly Night for its 'desecration of Christmas', famously saying that "The scum who made that movie should be run out of town."

1991 - Mickey Rooney stars in Silent Night, Deadly Night 5.

The Silent Night, Deadly Night franchise is one of the strangest horror franchises out there and there's perhaps no better example of that than the fifth and final installment, an underappreciated slice of 90's gold from the makers of films such as Return of the Living Dead 3, Bride of Re-Animator, The Dentist & Friday The 13th Part 3. Just one year after the franchise shed its Christmas theme altogether with the Clint Howard starring Part 4 (an awesome film in its own right), The Toy Maker brought back the holiday cheer, franchise hater Mickey Rooney in tow, with a delightfully oddball little tale about a toymaker who handcrafts evil toys with the intention of them killing their young recipients on Christmas morning. The film is essentially Christmas' answer to Halloween 3, both in terms of storyline and the unfortunate fate it suffered for being attached to a franchise it didn't have much to do with. The Toy Maker is a pretty kickass little horror flick on its own, much like Season of the Witch, though it generally doesn't earn much respect due to the Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 5 title that comes before that subtitle. As far as i'm concerned, it's a holiday horror classic that's just dying to be unwrapped and rediscovered by the many fans who likely wrote it off sight unseen simply for being part 5 in a not so respected horror franchise, one that oftentimes had sequels that didn't have much to do with one another.

As for me personally, i'm a big fan of the franchises' finale and I find little to not love about it. Rather than simply review it, i've decided to instead show my love for the film by making a little list (and checking it twice!) of just some of those things about it that I cherish and adore. Consider it my love letter to a film that could quite frankly use a bit more love every so often. What better place and time to give it some of that lovin' than here and now, on Shit Movie Fest's epic 25 Days of Shitmas!?!

So here are 10 things I love about Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker, aside from that awesome poster and even awesomer tagline!


Mickey Rooney, who has played Santa several times throughout his career, both before and after this film, famously condemned the makers of the first Silent Night, Deadly Night for replacing the spirit of Christmas with murder and depicting Santa as an axe wielding maniac. And yet, here he is starring in the fourth sequel to that film just a few years later (as a toy shop owner named Joe Petto ... get it?!), with him even donning a Santa suit in one scene to unleash some killer toys from his trusty sack. How did this happen? I honestly have no idea but it feels like sweet sweet justice that Rooney ended up in the sequel to a horror film that he was so vehemently opposed to. Maybe the genre isn't so evil afterall, eh Mickey?


The first killer toy we see is this evil Santa ball, which is intended for little Derek but is taken away from him by his asshole father, who opens it up and feels its full wrath. The jolly Santa face first spins 180 degrees around to reveal a sinister razor toothed Santa face, and then rubber arms and legs shoot out of the rotund body and wrap the toy around the dad's head, eventually forcing him to impale himself on a fire poker. Derek watches all of this go down from afar and, naturally, he is scarred for life, spending the majority of the film as a traumatized mute who's terrified of Christmas gifts.


Speaking of little Derek, we also see in this opening scene that he's rocking a pretty kickass pair of slippers. They're only seen in a few quick flashes, but it's enough to make any human being watching the movie seriously jealous of the kid's super cool kicks Dear Santa, please bring me a pair this Christmas. I promise to be good.


The Toy Maker was co-written by Brian Yuzna, the man who directed Bride of Re-Animator one year prior, and in one scene where kids are telling a mall Santa their Christmas wishses, Yuzna not only has a father on line wearing a Re-Animator t-shirt but if you listen very closely, at the end of her wish list to Santa, a little girl sitting on the jolly fat man's lap asks him for a VHS tape of Bride of Re-Animator. It's the little things in life that put a smile on my face.


Howard, who starred in the fourth installment of the franchise, makes a brief cameo as one of several mall Santas in this follow up, reprising his role of Ricky from part 4 and thereby tying the film to its predecessor. Always makes me happy to see Clint Howard on screen, even if it's only for a brief period of time, especially when he's got a giant Santa belly pillow strapped to his torso.


This toy sold in Joe Petto's shop seems to also be a call back to Silent Night 4, which was largely about giant killer bugs. Again, much like Halloween 3, there's a guy in the film that starts to catch on to the fact that these toys are being rigged up to kill kids, so in one scene early on he heads into Petto's shop to buy a bunch of toys and check to see if they're wired for destruction. One of those toys is Larry The Larvae, which the man then gifts to his landlord in lieu of paying him the rent he owes him (yep, this toy is so awesome that its worth is basically equal to cold hard cash). Shortly thereafter, Larry springs to life in the landlord's car, enters his mouth, pops out his eyeballs, and crawls through his mouth and out of one of the empty eye sockets. Now that's one badass toy!


Pino is Joe Petto's son (...get it yet?!), a strange young man who never seems to age. Towards the end of the film the big twist ending is revealed, through what is perhaps the strangest nude scene ever committed to celluloid; Pino disrobes and we find out that he is actually a living breathing toy that Petto made after his wife and unborn child were killed in a car accident. Let me tell you, folks, you simply haven't lived until you've seen a walking talking Ken doll attempt to rape a woman while screaming out "I love you mommy!!".


It's not often that you get to see a little kid being hit by a car in a movie (or in real life, for that matter). The Toy Maker provides that. After a stolen pair of rollerblades turn out to be deadly rocket powered contraptions, this poor unlucky thief gets catapulted into oncoming traffic, where he collides head on with a car. A short cop out of a scene is tacked on after to show that the kid survived the accident, but it's pretty awesome to see a kid being hit by a car nonetheless. At least it seemed awesome until I just typed out that last sentence and read it back. Now I just sound like a total sick weirdo.


While the first Silent Night virtually let us roam around Ira's Toys, a toy shop from the 80's that had everything from Ben Cooper Halloween costumes to a Castle Grayskull playset, this one provides us a peek inside Petto's Toys, chock full of early 90's toys. I absolutely love when older movies have scenes in toy shops, because they're oftentimes the only way to go back in time and get the feel of what it was like to be in a toy store from a time past. Nobody ever took pictures of these places, so thank the good lord that cinema has forever preserved some of them.


In one of the finest scenes in the film, two young people are having awkward sex when Mickey Rooney enters the room, dressed as Santa, and unloads a whole cavalcade of toys onto the floor. As the two are going at it, the toys come to life, first joining in on the fun (a prop hand feels around the dude's butt and the girl's vag) and then dispatching the couple. In the goriest moment, a toy soldier blasts a hole right through the girl's chest. It's like Toy Story gone wild and it's pure awesomeness.

So this holiday season, I encourage you to give The Toy Maker the chance to warm your heart and fill you with the spirit of Christmas, like only a movie about killer toys, a rapist Ken doll and children getting hit by cars can. You just might end up falling in love with it like I did!

- Johnny Boots


  1. i love the way this film uses kim and lonnie from part 4 without making them major players..kim has a line in it,something about the really weird shit she has been through that totally reminded me of john mclaine in die hard 2.they also managed to do the meta-cameo of the first film being watched on t.v.
    great review and it really is an unjustly ignored franchise.

    paddy"red car"stash

  2. Best Shitmas pick yet. I'm looking forward to hunting this one down...

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