Though I’ve never seen any of the Silent Night, Deadly Night sequels, the idea of this one has fascinated me for a while, as it’s directed by the great Monte Hellman (Two-Lane Blacktop, Cockfighter). It's not that Hellman has a signature style, exactly, or that he's above exploitation. Nevertheless, the film shown in this trailer, which promises what looks like the most DTV of horror experiences, is still most assuredly an oddity in the director's filmography.
But in 1989, Hellman was in a weird place. In the years since his bona fide classics, he struggled to get anything off the ground. He was happy to be a hired gun, but was just as likely to get fired from an episode of Baretta as he was to take over for some other director who’d been booted from this set or that. So, aside from the weird and great China 9, Liberty 37, you didn’t see Hellman’s name on a whole lot of movies. He was passed over for directing duties on directing Robocop, reportedly due to his limited experience with action. The producers then hired him to direct 2nd unit - where he oversaw a large number of the film’s action sequences. In 1988 he helmed the challenging, uncomfortable Iguana (starring Everett McGill), and finished the decade making this surreal entry into what was perceived as bottom-rung trash. (Odd observation: Robocop, Iguana and Silent Night Deadly Night III all feature different members of the Twin Peaks cast. What?)
Silent Night, Deadly Night III involves Ricky Caldwell (Bill Moseley), the Santa-obsessed slasher of the franchise, waking from a coma and stalking a blind psychic girl during the holidays. The psychic angle, which took Friday the 13th SEVEN films to get around to, allows for side trips into both weird ESP territory and flashbacks from the previous films. In his book on the director, author Brad Stevens argues somewhat convincingly to find a home for this film in Hellman’s body of work, drawing interesting parallels in theme, framing, etc., between this movie and others by Hellman. Apparently it wasn’t enough to convince me so far; I have yet to watch this! What say you, readers? Should I give it a whirl? I mean, I love Monte Hellman. And c’mon, Bill Moseley with a glass dome for a skull? And Robert Culp? Never mind, all of you. I just answered my own question.