Holiday Horrors: Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker (1991)
Wow. I still can’t believe what I just watched. If SNDN 4 jumped the shark, then SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT 5: THE TOY MAKER not only jumped the same shark, but swam back and fucked it!! This is an absolutely ridiculous film with a silly, and at times insulting, plot that really goes nowhere. The only thing right SNDN 5 does is situate this franchise back in the Xmas setting (which was severely missing from part 4). Now the question remains; is this a so-bad-its-good film, or just a bad-don’t-see-it film? Let’s find out.
The film opens a couple weeks before Xmas where we visit the Quinn home. Little Derek (William Thorne) is woken up by some noises, and when he goes to investigate the cause, he walks in on … take a guess. Go ahead; I bet you’ll be right. You got it … he walks in on his parents having sex. I think there’s a lesson to be had here for all us parents: We need to stop having sex during the Xmas season. Now think about it; if we have sex with our significant other we will most surely either put our kid on the path to becoming a serial killer or we will ourselves die. Weigh your options and see what you can live with. I have. Any who, Derek goes downstairs and after hearing a knock on the door, finds a present on the doorstep with a note reading, “Don’t open till Xmas.” But Derek spits in the face of authority and brashly opens the gift. Just as he’s taking it out of the box his dad (Van Quattro) comes downstairs, picks Derek up, shaking him like a British nanny while scolding him for opening the front door “at this hour.” Derek goes to bed and the dad continues to open the gift. It’s a stupid looking Santa toy that suddenly comes to life and kills him (while Derek is peeking down the stairs).
Now we have a traumatized little kid who doesn’t speak and a mother, Sarah (Jane Higginson), left to try and deal with being husbandless. At this point I was still hanging in there. Sure this is about as original as a group of teens getting killed in the woods, but I’ve always loved the PUPPETMASTER films and wanted to see where this one was going. I can’t forget to mention that SNDN 5 is also produced and co-written by Brian Yuzna. This needs to be said: Yuzna has made some truly amazing genre films (BRIDE OF REANIMATOR, BEYOND REANIMATOR, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD 3), but when he makes a shitty flick he really makes a shitty flick (SNDN 4 and 5, PROGENY). I’m still a huge fan of Yuzna, but just because a film has his name on it doesn’t mean it’s a home run.
This opening with Derek being traumatized is the main story here. There’s a bunch of other shit going on that either has nothing to do with the main plot, or is hammered down to make it fit the main story. There’s the local toy maker, Joe Petto (Mickey Rooney), I’m not kidding; his son Pino (Brian Bremer), I wish I was kidding; a stranger who just rolled into town, Noah (Tracy Fraim); and some other minor characters and plots not worth going into. If after meeting Joe Petto and Pino you can’t figure out exactly what’s going on then there’s one of three things going on with you: You’ve never seen a horror film before; you’ve never seen PINOCCHIO before; or you’re retarded. This isn’t meant as a bash, just as a matter of fact. This plot then becomes insulting because writers Yuzna and Martin Kitrosser (who also directed) plays this out like the audience has no idea of what’s going on.
And then there’s the fact that the entire cast from SNDN 4 is listed in the credits and appear in part 5. What? Kim (Neith Hunter), the female reporter from part 4, shows up as Sarah’s neighbor and best friend and she’s towing Lonnie (Conan Yuzna) with her. If you’ve seen part 4 you’ll remember that Kim kidnapped Lonnie in order to sacrifice him to the witches but had a last minute moment of compassion and saved him. But now, according to SNDN 5, Kim never returned Lonnie to his parents, but kept him and is now raising him as her own son. Wait, what? Even characters who died in part 4 come back as the characters they played in part 4!! Clint Howard’s “Ricky,” for example, is back (although don’t blink or you’ll miss his scene). And we’re never given any kind of explanation as to these returning characters. The closest we get is when Kim and Sarah are talking and Kim sullenly says, “You wouldn’t believe the things I’ve been through; I sometimes don’t believe them myself.” Really? That’s the only fucking connection given with Kim’s character?? Again; insulting.
The acting is actually pretty good in this one. William Thorne (Derek) does a good job and never over- or underplays his role. The one character who overdoes every scene he’s in is, you guessed it, Mickey Rooney. He chews through the scenery like a beaver chewing its way through a balsa wood house!! It’s actually pretty ironic Rooney’s even in this film considering he wrote a letter protesting the original SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT demanding that the “scum” who made that film should be “run out of town” for having dirtied the sacredness of Xmas. But I guess when ya have a paycheck being waved in your face and you have a mortgage payment due you make exceptions.
The f/x are minimum here and come very few and far between. There’s a well done f/x near the beginning with a killer centipede toy that is pretty effective and then near the end the bloodied babysitter is decent, but this really isn’t an f/x-heavy story. There’s not even that many killer toys. The title is, “The Toy Maker” after all. We get some toy action near the end, but it’s pretty damn lame.
But the final act of SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT 5: THE TOY MAKER is where it really comes alive. It’s cute how Yuzna and Kitrosser act like the viewer doesn’t have a fucking clue what’s going on. The ‘big reveal’ is presented like we should be blown away and horrified. Instead I was laughing my ass off and trying not to choke on the pistachios I was eating. I really wanna give away the ending, but the writers took care of doing this five minutes into the film!! But if you can endure the first 80 minutes, the last 10 minutes are worth it just for the (unintentional) humor. But other elements of this film will really piss you off. There’s a ‘big reveal/twist’ with the character of Noah that is completely unnecessary and adds absolutely nothing to the end product. Plus the entire motive of the killer is that he’s making killer toys to kill the children in town, yet no kid dies here. Every single gift is intersected by a bumbling adult who then gets killed. Come on Yuzna … you have more edge than that!!
SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT 5: THE TOY MAKER is by no means a good movie. Yes it brings the franchise back into the Xmas setting, but it doesn’t manage to recapture what made the original film so fun. Here we have a killer (and an obvious one at that) whose motives are really lame; a list of characters from the previous installment of the franchise who are never explained, and a final act that will have you (unintentionally) laughing out loud instead of being horrified. Yuzna definitely phoned this one in and I’m just thankful he dropped this franchise after this mess. So to answer the question from the opening paragraph, yes; this is a so-bad-its-good kinda movie only if you can make it to the final 10 minutes. Manage this and you’re gonna have yourself a good laugh. But if you’re looking for a serious and disturbing Xmas-themed horror flick you’re gonna be pissed.
Me, I’m just glad I didn’t choke on those pistachios!!
Director: Martin Kitrosser (& co-writer with Brian Yuzna)
Plot: 2 out of 5 stars
Gore: 4.5 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer