[31 Days of Horror Part VI: Jason Lives] Day 30 – Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation (1990)

Director: Brian Yuzna

Cast: Clint Howard, Neith Hunter, Tommy Hinkley, Reggie Bannister, Allyce Beasley, Maud Adams

Screenplay: Woody Keith

90 mins. Rated R.

As October comes to a close, it is perhaps time to look to the future, and after Halloween, I look straight to Christmas. Christmas is magical. Christmas is wonderful. And without a doubt, Christmas is terrifying, especially for the characters in tonight’s film, the fourth in a famous, or infamous, holiday horror franchise. That’s right, we are talking Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation.

Kim (Neith Hunter, Near Dark, Liar’s Poker) is a classified ads editor for the L.A. Eye, a newspaper run by a misogynistic boss who just won’t give her a chance to prove herself as a journalist. So when the lucky opportunity arises to investigate the death of a woman due to apparent spontaneous combustion, she leaps at the chance. As Kim uncovers layers of the mystery, she is drawn into a group of women who take an odd interest in her. What do they want? Are they conmected to the death? The answer…is yes. Yes, they are.

The films in this series are all so bad that it would be tough to actually rank them against one another. I would sa that at least the first two are laughably bad, a win in this scenario, and while I like director Brian Yuzna (Beyond Re-Animator, 60 Seconds of Solitude in Year Zero), I don’t think that this film is good at all. It’s so jumbled, as if there was a bunch of exposition that went missing and had to be hastily rewritten from memory.

The film doesn’t really have any likable characters, a trait quite common with Yuzna’s films. This isn’t a knock in some cases, as I’ve said before, as long as characters are interesting. The issue is that none of these characters are developed enough to be interesting, like Fima (Maud Adams, Octopussy, The Seekers), the most notable member of the cultish group of women, or Ricky (Clint Howard, Apollo 13, 3 From Hell), who is not the Ricky of the previous films.

There are some sweet effects in the film for any fan of the macabre, even if they are few and far between. The way Kim’s psyche goes off the rails works really well from an effects standpoint. There just aren’t enough cool moments to justify 90 minutes.

Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation is not good, but that’s to be expected. What’s most disappointing is that, unlike the previous installments, it’s not even enjoyably bad. It’s just a missed opportunity in just about every way.


-Kyle A. Goethe

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