Initiation: Silent Night, Deadly Night 4 – USA, 1990

‘And if I die before I wake, thank you’

Initiation: Silent Night, Deadly Night 4 is a 1990 American horror feature film directed by Brian Yuzna (Society; Return of the Living Dead III; Necronomicon; The Dentist) from a screenplay co-written with Woody Keith and Arthur Gorson. Producer Richard N. Gladstein, who co-wrote the storyline, went on to work with Quentin Tarantino. Promotional material featured the title Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: InitiationIn the UK, the video release was re-titled Bugs.

The movie stars Neith Hunter, Clint Howard, Tommy Hinkley, Reggie Bannister, Allyce Beasley, and Maud Adams.

Plot:

Kim Levitt (Neith Hunter) is an aspiring journalist working for the L.A. Eye as a classified ads editor. Her boss, Eli (Reggie Bannister), seems to give all of the men in her office the breaks, including her boyfriend Hank (Tommy Hinkley). When a woman is discovered dead on the sidewalk, half-burned into ashes in an apparent case of the spontaneous human combustion, Kim decides to pursue the story on her own without Eli’s approval.

While investigating, she crosses paths with Fima (Maud Adams), a used bookstore proprietor whose shop is in the building the woman jumped from. As a gift, Fima offers Kim a book on feminism and the occult…

Reviews:

“Despite its low budget, the movie manages to get almost The Fly levels of practical effects and the whole movie is a very visceral experience. The acting from all involved is also top notch with Neith Hunter really selling the inquisitive mind of Kim while Clint Howard is brilliantly odd as the cult’s faithful servant Ricky.” Flickering Myth

“Director Brian Yuzna, someone who creates schlock that I usually enjoy, hits a bit of a low point here […] There are some aspects to the movie that horror fans will enjoy, including one or two decent special effects from Screaming Mad George, and a cameo role for Reggie Bannister, but not enough to even class it as an average time-waster.” Kevin Matthews, For It Is Man’s Number

“Overall, Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation is a solid film. It has a great cast and some amazing practical effects. The film is essentially a body horror flick with small creatures but lacks any connection to the previous Silent Night, Deadly Night films. This one is well worth a shot.” Horror Society

” …the subject matter is right up Yuzna’s alley because it allows for quite a few gross-out “body horror” moments that ultimately serve as the highlight of the film, as there are several interesting sequences (like Kim apparently giving birth to a giant slug-like creature). Unfortunately, these moments are all too brief and are surrounded by a fairly trite plot that’s incomprehensible at times…” Brett Gallman, Oh, the Horror!

“Look, this isn’t Yuzna’s finest hour by any stretch, but it’s okay. It’s hard not not like, at least on some level, any movie with Clint Howard and giant maggots. But it’s a confused, jumbled mess of a film, even if it has its heart in the right place.” Ryan C., Trash Film Guru

“Like Society, Initiation is another Los Angeles county set tale of surrealism and paranoia. Both playing like potent blends of Un Chien Andalou and Rosemary’s Baby, both movies focus on a lone hero/lone heroine who just can’t convince those closest to them that there’s something very wrong beneath realities ‘normal’ veneer.” Matty Budrewicz, UK Horror Scene

“Despite the sloppy finale this isn’t a bad follow-up and is filled with plenty of bizarre rituals, some unsettling images (such as Hunter’s bug spit-up) and some decent suspense during an apartment assault by homeless man (and the Wiccan cult’s tool) Clint Howard. Watchable stuff with a script by Woody Keith that seems obsessed with bugs (mostly roaches) and has a few moments of thinly veiled feminism.” The Video Graveyard

Choice dialogue:

Kim: “Yeah, the only way to get anything around around here is if you have a dick!”

Kim: “Dammit Janice, we do we need men anyway?”

Kim: “Oh yeah? Well, fck my attitude, fck my job and f*ck you!”

Cast and characters:

  • Clint Howard as Ricky Caldwell
  • Neith Hunter as Kim Levitt
  • Tommy Hinkley as Hank
  • Reggie Bannister as Eli
  • Allyce Beasley as Janice
  • Maud Adams as Fima
  • Hugh Fink as Jeff
  • Richard N. Gladstein as Woody
  • Glen Chin as Jo
  • Jeanne Bates as Katherine
  • Laurel Lockhart as Ann
  • Ben Slack as Gus
  • Conan Yuzna as Lonnie
  • Marjean Holden as Jane
  • Ilsa Setzoil as Li
  • David Wells as Detective Burt

Censorship:

The 1996 UK Guild Home Video release – titled Bugs – was cut 8 seconds by the BBFC. A shot of a man hanging by his nipples was removed.

Related:

Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (1987)

Silent Night, Deadly Night III: Better Watch Out! (1989)

Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker (1991)

Silent Night (2012)

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