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‘When your nightmare ends, the real terror begins.’
Silent Night, Deadly Night III: Better Watch Out! is a 1989 American slasher horror film directed by Monte Hellman (Trapped Ashes; Beast from Haunted Cave) from a screenplay co-written with Rex Weiner [as Carlos Laszlo], based on a story by producer Arthur Gorson (writer of Initiation: Silent Night, Deadly Night 4; producer of Cronos).

A direct-to-video release, the film is the second sequel to the 1984 film Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984).

After being shot down by police at the end of the previous film, the infamous Santa Claus Killer Richard “Ricky” Caldwell has been left comatose for six years, with a transparent dome being affixed to his head by the doctors in order to repair his damaged skull. Wanting to contact Ricky, the eccentric Doctor Newbury begins using a blind clairvoyant girl named Laura Anderson to try reach out to him.

One Christmas Eve, after a particularly traumatic session with Newbury, Laura begins to regret her participation in his experiment, but Newbury tries to convince her to keep trying, saying that they can talk more after Laura returns home from visiting her grandmother over the holiday.

After Laura is picked up from the hospital by her older brother Chris, a drunk hospital employee dressed as Santa Claus wanders into Ricky’s room and begins taunting him, rousing Ricky back to consciousness. Killing the Santa impersonator Ricky escapes from the hospital, taking a letter opener with him after killing a receptionist as well…

“The premise of a psychic link between a blind girl and a comatose serial killer is hard enough to swallow, but watching Ricky Caldwell stomp around with a transparent skull like a retarded Frankenstein monster quickly becomes a laugh riot that shouldn’t be missed.”All Movie

“The effects work is tragic. The half-fishbowl bubble replete with exposed brain and blinking lights that is screwed into the top of Ricky’s skull is laughable, even before his attempts to hide it with a stocking cap! Everyone looks like they wish they were anywhere else other than making this movie.” Bloody Disgusting

“Culp also spends 2-3 minutes of screen time professing his love for his new “cellular telephone” (which can store 100 contacts!) and trying to save money on his bill by getting the shrink to sign up on his referral. Given the film’s surprising lack of violence (the body count is like, four), at least the bulk of the non-horror scenes aren’t without entertainment value.” Horror Movie a Day

“To see Hellman, Culp, et. al. refusing to mail it in and actually insisting on earning their paychecks is a rare delight in the middle of a horror franchise that seemingly had run entirely out of gas after the first one.  The end result is hardly the most interesting entry into the series — that’s yet to come — but certainly the best made, and one I recommend heartily.” Trash Film Guru

“It is quite possibly the most laughably awful yet memorably enjoyable horror movie that I like to revisit from time to time.” UK Horror Scene

” …it seems like the flick is trying it’s hardest to distance itself from the first two movies and just be its own thing.  For instance, Ricky doesn’t wear a Santa suit in this one.  Instead he just wears a stupid looking colander on his head.  And unlike the original, the gore is practically nonexistent as most of Ricky’s kills happen off screen.” The Video Vacuum

Choice dialogue:
Doctor Newbury: “There are no innocent people, Lieutenant. We are all guilty.”


At a screening at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas in July 2008, director Monte Hellman introduced the film, saying he thought it was his best work (though not his best film). His esteem for the work was partly due, he said, to the speed at which the entire project was put together.

The original script was thrown out and rewritten in one week, starting in March. By the end of April, principal photography was done, editing was done in May (with Hellman taking time out to go to the Cannes Film Festival), and by July 1989 there was an answer print screened at a film festival.

International Video Entertainment released the film on VHS, while Image Entertainment released it on laserdisc.

Lions Gate Entertainment released the film along with its sequels, Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation and Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker as a three disc set on December 1, 2009.

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Lionsgate re-released the film to DVD on January 4, 2011 in a 4-Film Collection set along with My Best Friend Is a VampireRepossessed, and Slaughter High.

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Filming locations:
Piru, California

Film Facts:
A clip from The Terror (1963) featuring Boris Karloff and Jack Nicholson is seen on TV. Hellman was one of the directors that worked, uncredited, on the Roger Corman movie.

Cast and characters:

  • Bill Moseley as Richard “Ricky” Caldwell – Death HouseHouse of 1000 CorpsesThe Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2; et al
  • Richard Beymer as Doctor Newbury – Home: The Horror Story
  • Samantha Scully as Laura Anderson – Bloodsuckers (1997)
  • Eric Da Re as Chris Anderson
  • Laura Harring as Jerri
  • Robert Culp as Lt. Connelly – Santa’s Slay
  • Elizabeth Hoffman as Granny Anderson
  • Richard C. Adams as Santa
  • Melissa Hellman as Doctor Newbury’s assistant
  • Isabel Cooley as Hospital receptionist
  • Leonard Mann as Laura’s psychiatrist
  • Carlos Palomino as Truck driver
  • Marc Dietrich as Craig
  • Jim Ladd as Newscaster
  • Richard N. Gladstein as Detective
  • Tamela Song as Nurse
  • Michael Ameen as Coroner
  • Jeremiah Sird as Garbage Dave
  • Eric Freeman as Ricky Caldwell
  • Ron Moriarity as Detective
  • Nadya Wynd as Sister Mary
  • Jonathan Best as Billy Chapman at 5
  • Melissa Best as Infant Ricky
  • Tara Buckman as Ellie Chapman
  • Geoff Hansen as Jim Chapman
  • Charles Dierkop as Killer Santa Claus
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