Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation (1990)

This entry in the Silent Night, Deadly Night series has nothing to do with any of the others, dropping the killer Santa Caldwell brothers for an entirely new plot. It was directed by Brian Yuzna and written by Yuzna, Woody Keith and Arthur Gorson. In the UK, it’s called Bugs, which is a much more descriptive title.

Keith took several of the ideas he had for the movie Society but was unable to get into that movie. Thanks to the miracle of how movies are released, that film came out two years after this one.

Kim Levitt (Neith Hunter, who is also in Less Than Zero and Carnosaur 2) is an aspiring journalist working at the L.A. Eye. Her boss gives breaks to all the guys, including her boyfriend Hank.

However, when she finds a spontaneously combusted body on her sidewalk, she starts her own investigation. That brings her to the bookstore of Fima (Maud Adams, the titular heroine of the James Bond film Octopussy), who gives her a book on feminism and the occult.

On Christmas Eve, Kim spends a rough evening with her boyfriend’s family, dealing with way too many questions and anger about her lack of religious faith. On Christmas Day, she attends a picnic Fima invited her to, where she meets Katherine Harrison (Jeanne Bates, Mrs. X from Eraserhead) and Jane Yanana (Sheeva from Mortal Kombat: Annihilation), who tells her about Adam’s first wife Lilith.

Merry Christmas, huh?

Soon, our heroine’s writing career is going well but she’s eating bugs and drinking weird tea and you know, it’s tannis root all over again. She passes out, only to awaken to Jane, Fima, Katherine, and Li performing a ritual where they cut open a live rat, pulls out some larva and shoves it inside her secret garden. It then comes out of her mouth as a vomited giant roach, which their assistant Ricky (Clint Howard!) slices up and drips all over her face.

The mania continues with her running to her man’s apartment and Ricky following her to stab Hank to death. Her co-worker Janice comes to help  — no she doesn’t she’s in on all this — before taking her back to meet Fima. Janice is played by Allyce Beasley, who you may remember as the secretary from TV’s Moonlighting.

This all leads to the Curse of Lilith, burning bugs, Ricky wiping out a family, an office holiday party and Reggie Bannister from Phantasm playing Eli, the horrible boss. Oh yeah — you also get to watch a gigantic insect eat Clint Howard, which really sounds like the best Christmas gift possible for me. Thank you, everyone involved.

You can watch this for free — with ads — on Vudu.

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