I have seen nearly every Christmas movie ever made, but there was one I couldn't wait to see that kept eluding me: Silent Night, Deadly Night III: Better Watch Out! (1989). Why, you're wondering, would I waste my time on this crappy, sub-par horror series whose only claim to fame was irritating a group of parents back in the 1980s? Because this third part of a five-film series was the "comeback" feature for one of the greatest American directors of the 1960s and 1970s. Finally, Lionsgate has released the film on DVD for the first time, in a three-disc box set, no less, that also contains Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation (1990) and Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker (1991, starring Mickey Rooney!). I finally got to see it. But more on that later.
Like Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Jonathan Demme and others, Monte Hellman (born 1932) started working for Roger Corman. He made his directorial debut on Beast from Haunted Cave (1959), and according to legend, he was one of five directors who worked on The Terror (1963). He also earned some cash directing a few fill-in scenes for the American television broadcast premiere of A Fistful of Dollars. But in 1965, Corman sent him on an assignment. He was to go to Utah and shoot two Westerns back-to-back with the same actors, costumes and budget. And he came back with two masterpieces, so great that they played in Paris theaters for an entire year.