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Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker

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The Doctor needs help

Mickey Rooney finds out what his son REALLY thinks of his acting, in the drive-in's answer to "Babes in Toyland"

"Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In" for 11/1/91
By Joe Bob Briggs
Drive-In Movie Critic of Grapevine, Texas

santa's paranoid cat

I just got back from Vegas, where we did my fifth-anniversary show for cable (we won't dwell on how pitiful THAT is), and I hadn't been there in a while and so I didn't realize how the whole city has become one big Disney World Epcot Universal Tour Ripley's Believe It or Not Snake Farm and Wheelchair Museum. I'm always the last to discover a trend, so you already know this:
Vegas wants us to think of it as "a family entertainment center."
Don't we already HAVE enough "family entertainment centers" where Norm and Marge can drive the Suburban to dump their kids in a log flume? Can't we try to keep the one truly sleazy place in America? (Actually, there are two sleazy places, but Atlantic City is so far beyond sleazy it's more like a clinical disease.)
Anyhow, there's all these new hotels, like the Mirage and the Excelsior and the "all new" Circus Circus, which was the ORIGINAL hotel for families with screaming carpet monsters who wanna rub pizza juice on Mom's dress while Mom says, "Look at the nice clown and the trapeze woman wearing dental floss around her waist? Isn't she PRETTY?" And all these new hotels have "family entertainment" attractions, like wild animals, dolphins, circus acts, kiddie buffets, to try to get the R.V. crowd to stay there. Which would be fine with me, except for one thing:

You ever try to play blackjack sitting next to a woman named Florence from Akron? It's not that they just wanna talk. People SHOULD talk at blackjack tables. It's that they all wanna talk about BLACKJACK.
"You didn't double-down on that nine, did you?" this woman said to me one day at the Mirage.
And what do I say? I say "Oh, yeah, how STUPID of me. Thanks for noticeing."
And what am I THINKING?
I'm thinking, "You ignorant dairy cow, you never double-down on nine unless the dealer shows a low card."
How come I can never bring myself to say stuff like this--except to people I love?
But even if this woman had given me the RIGHT advice, I wouldn't care. What's really amazing about the potato-farmer crowd that's pouring into Vegas is that everybody has these blackjack SYSTEMS. They're not just sticking quarters in the slot machine. They're up in their hotel rooms with a calculator, practicing how to beat the four-deck dealer's shoe.
Lemme save yall a lot of time. Here's all you have to know about blackjack in Vegas:
Numero Uno:
There are about six guys in the WORLD who can win at blackjack in Vegas. Five of them are banned from every casino in town. The sixth one spends every waking hour practicing blackjack.
Numero Two-o:
If you can memorize twenty random four-digit numbers, like "8,974" and "3,244," in about thirty seconds, and then keep ALL TWENTY in your head for a half hour, ready to recall them at any moment, then you have the BARE MINIMUM memory needed to count cards and bet properly.
Numero Three-o:
If you become any good at the game, then you'll eventually start playing at the smaller casinos that advertise "one-deck blackjack" and "double odds," because you THINK you can make more money there. All these places deal blackjack by hand. There's a reason they do that.
Numero Four-o:
Never split fours, fives, sixes or nines.
Numero Five-o:
ALWAYS drink the complimentary cocktail. You won't play any better, but you'll THINK you do.

Speaking of American institutions that just won't go away, Mickey Rooney is starting to turn up in drive-in movies left and right, and one of his best ones is "Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker," latest in the series of movies that ruined Christmas for children everywhere. If you remember, the first two "Silent Night, Deadly Nights" starred an ax murderer dressed up like Santa Claus. I have no idea what happened in Three or Four, because I'm not even sure they exist. Kinda like the Howling movies--all of a sudden they're making the eighth one, and everybody is going, "It's a joke, right?"

But Mickey, if you haven't seen him lately, looks like he's slowly MELTING with each passing year. And I think he's been wearing the same dirty sweatshirt in his last three flicks. But anyhow, he plays the kindly old toymaker Joe Petto (get it?) who builds himself an android robot one day to be his son. Meanwhile, somebody is sending mysterious Christmas gifts to the home of Derek, an eight-year-old kid who's a little skeptical about the holiday season ever since he saw his daddy's face chewed off by a musical Santa. Various toys keep coming to life, like zombie merchandise at Target, and killing various members of the cast--until the big final showdown between Mama, Derek's REAL dad, and a killer maniac robot named Pino.

It's kind of a Child's Play ripoff, combined with Puppetmaster, "Pinocchio" and "A Stranger Is Watching." I loved it.

Six dead bodies.
Two breasts.
One crash-and-burn.
Fire poker through the gizzards.
Eyeball-sucking caterpillar.
Rubber-snake strangling.
Multiple aardvarking.
Killer roller blades.
Body slicing.
Great killer-toy "Puppetmaster" effects.
Brutal fistfight.
Head rolls.
Toys R Us Fu.
Drive-In Academy Award nominations for Mickey Rooney, for screaming "I oughta break you in half!" at his toy;
Tracy Fraim, as the Santa who's following Derek around, for giving his landlord a toy and saying "It's to die for";
Jane Higginson, as Mom, for rooting around in the back of a station wagon and saying "Don't lie to me, Joe, I saw him!";
Brian Bremer, as the maniac android, for saying "I had to be sure he didn't hurt me anymore" and "You don't need Derek! I can be your son now!";
and William Thorne, as the kid, for saying "Don't be afraid--it's only a toy, Mommy."
Three stars.
Joe Bob says check it out.


Victory Over Communism! The Hathaways Drive-In Theatre on Route 67 in North Hoosick, N.Y., has been saved because Karl and Elizabeth Pingree, who know nothing about the movie business, have bought it and are reviving the great 60-by-30 screen and using the old grass parking embankments, instead of gravel or asphalt. It has a 320-car capacity, picnic areas, great movie murals in the concession stand--and it's doing business. Elizabeth, who's a nurse, and Karl, who's an airline employee, say they're doing it because the Hathaways is "a recreational asset to the community." Dave Casey, a native of North Hoosick now living in Copper Canyon, Tex., reminds us that, with eternal vigilance, the drive-in will never die. To discuss the meaning of life with Joe Bob, or to get free junk in the mail and his world-famous "We Are the Weird" newsletter, write Joe Bob Briggs, P.O. Box 2002, Dallas, TX 75221, or you can Fax him at 214-368-2310.

Joe Bob,
Outstanding parody of the para-poetry by the BLEEDING Lizard King! When I was about 15, watching him f--- the speakers taught me a lot about sex, but I always thought he'd be better doing guttural sex screams like any other brainless rocker. But no, he had to try his hand at profundity!
Thanks for being here in the Bible belt where we all need you.
Janet Travis

Dear Janet:
The Lizard bleeds for you, but the deafening silence of the buffalo gathers no moss.

Dear Mr. Briggs,
Your 16 June 1991 article in the Chronicle Datebook attempted to make a joke about a lesbian named Mumbles the Molester. Unfortunately, this is not a harmless stereotype but a lie told about lesbians every day to deny them employment, child custody and other rights.
I often find your column amusing, but not when it serves to continue homophobic stereotypes. Keep up the non-offending jokes. Heaven knows we need them in this time of the New World Odor.
Karen Leslie Topakian
San Fracisco, Calif.

Dear Karen:
Several people wrote to me about the made-up name "Mumbles the Molester," implying that the word "molester" means "child abuser" and that I was employing some incredibly elaborate conceit in order to associate child abuse with lesbians.
I double-checked the word. It doesn't necessarily have anything to do with children.
Buy a dictionary.

Joe Bob:
Enclosed is a revival notice that recently appeared on our door. We thought you might find it interesting. The Rev. John Glen (not to be confused with the honest, if naive, Sen. John Glenn from A-hi-a) seems to have compiled a complete list of "deeds which the Bible condemns." We noted at once that although the list included such abominations as women wearing shorts, mixed bathing and mini-skirts (worn by men or women we suppose), that drive-in movies were not on the list. We are sure that you will rest easier tonight knowing that the Bible does not condemn drive-ins.
But wait,
you say, they didn't have drive-ins back in Biblical times. Well, the good Rev. Glen knows what the Holy Ghost said concerning television sets: "Move them out." Now if Rev. Glen has found scripture about television sets, he surely would have found any passages relating to drive-ins.
Take care and continue "your work of the lord."
Chuck Tritt and Julianne Hunter

Dear Chuck and Julianne:
I notice that "make-up" is also on the reverend's list.
I suppose I can give up the mixed bathing--it can awfully stinky, after all--but I will NOT give up my mascara.

Joe Bob,
What's the irony of Linda The Exorcist Blair's attendance at the Superbowl of Chili Cook-Off in Sylmar?
Doug Taylor

Dear Doug:
I would have to look at the chili, but I really don't wanna think about it.

Hey Joe Bob,
I just had some random thoughts I wanted to share with you:
(1) I admit that something had to be done with the ratings system, but come on--NC-17. It's totally misleading and depressing. The first thing that would come to my mind if I saw an ad with a rating of NC-17 is "Nekkid Cuties--17 of 'em" and of course there wouldn't be any such thing in the movie. It's just another example of Greaser Jack puttin' the screws to the rest of us.

(2) If Roger Corman wanted to get back into directing with a Frankenstein movie, why didn't he use this idea: Frankenstein's monster joins the army under an assumed name. The title: "Private Parts." (And, no I don't care if Paul Bartel doesn't like the idea).

(3) This one came to me in a vision sort of like Laura Palmer standing over Nick Cage in "Wild at Heart." This country hasn't had a new Christmas classic in a whole bunch of years. It especially hasn't had a nekkid breast Christmas classic for probably even longer than that. So let's get a whole bunch of interested folks together and finance "Russ Meyer's It's A Wonderful Life" starring Bruce Dern in the Jimmy Stewart role, Laura Dern with massive silicone breast implants (she needs 'em anyway) in the Donna Reed role (I thought it would be a nice touch to have a father-daughter play husband-wife), and of course it goes without saying, Charles Napier as Clarence the Angel. We'd have to have a lot of sex and death and ladies with chests and other good stuff, but I bet it would catch on and become a seasonal favorite. It's about time Russ stopped writing that book and got back to gigunda Deluxe Color hooters anyway.
Larry Thomas

Dear Larry:
You forgot "Sybil Danning as The Beaver."

© 1991 Joe Bob Briggs All Rights Reserved

For more of Joe Bob's pre-TNT reviews in Grapevine, Texas, go to his Drive-In Reviews Archive over yonder at www.Joe Bob

"Silent Night, Deadly Night" movies are available on DVD from

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Of course, one thing this movie doesn't have is a creepy little monkey toy. That was in Mystery Science Theater 3000 feature Merlin's Shop Of Mystical Wonders starring Ernest Borgnine

Trivia note: In Silent Night, Deadly Night 2, the film Ricky and Jennifer are watching at the movie theater is the first Silent Night, Deadly Night

Elvis has left the building, and he took Joe Bob with him.