Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation

Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation, released in the UK as Bugs, is a 1990 American horror film directed by Brian Yuzna, and written by Brian Yuzna, Woody Keith, and Arthur Gorson. The film stars Clint Howard, Neith Hunter, Tommy Hinkley, Reggie Banister, Allyce Beasley, and Maud Adams. The plot focuses on a Los Angeles newspaper reporter who, while investigating the unexplained death of a woman, becomes entangled with a group of witches who are preparing her for their ritual on Christmas Eve.

Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation
Promotional poster
Directed byBrian Yuzna
Produced byRichard N. Gladstein
Screenplay byWoody Keith
Story byBrian Yuzna
Arthur H. Gorson
S.J. Smith
StarringClint Howard
Neith Hunter
Tommy Hinkley
Reggie Bannister
Allyce Beasley
Maud Adams
Music byRichard Band
CinematographyPhilip Holahan
Edited byPeter Teschner
Silent Films
Distributed byLive Video
Release date
  • November 21, 1990 (1990-11-21)[1]
Running time
86 minutes
CountryUnited States

The film bears little resemblance to its predecessors, because it drops the "killer Santa" theme completely. It is followed by The Toy Maker (1991).


Kim Levitt is an aspiring journalist working for the L.A. Eye as a classified ads editor. Her boss, Eli, seems to give all of the men in her office the breaks, including her boyfriend Hank. 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, 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.

On Christmas Eve, Kim spends the evening with Hank's family, who recurrently make snide remarks about Kim being Jewish. Later at her apartment, Kim begins reading the book Fima gave to her, and finds a chapter on "The Fire of Lilith" depicting a woman engulfed in flames. The next day, Kim arrives at a picnic Fima invited her to, where she meets Katherine Harrison, a self-described old crone, and the young Jane Yanana. They tell her about Lilith, Adam's first wife and the "spirit of all that crawls."

At the Eye, Eli, instead of being angry about Kim missing work, lets her officially have the spontaneous combustion story. That afternoon, Kim decides to visit Fima's apartment to ask her more questions. Fima serves her a cup of tea, which makes Kim nauseated. Fima tells Kim of her daughter Lilith. Fima offers her a date and demands that Kim eat it. She does, even though it looks like a roach in her hand. Soon after, Kim passes out.

She wakes up surrounded by Jane, Fima, Katherine, and Li. They perform a ritual on Kim: Ricky and Fima slice open a live rat over her, and insert a giant larva into Kim's vagina. It emerges from her mouth as a full-grown, giant, multi-segmented roach; she vomits the creature out. Ricky slices the creature in half and drips its innards onto Kim's face. Kim wakes up later fully dressed, still in Fima's apartment. She rushes home, terrified, and finds Hank, who is able to calm her. Ricky then enters the apartment and stabs Hank to death. Kim manages to answer her ringing phone during the fight and screams for her co-worker Janice to help her. Ricky captures Kim and binds her. Janice arrives, but doesn't help Kim. Instead, she admonishes Ricky for the mess and tells him to take Kim straight to Fima.

Ricky locks Kim in the meat locker at a meat shop next-door to Fima's bookstore where she passes out again. When she awakens, she is surrounded by the entire cult. Ricky, wearing a phallic mask, rapes Kim. Kim reawakens alone in the meat locker; her fingers bind themselves together in a knot. Then she experiences incredible pain as her legs bind together into an insect-like tail. Kim passes out again. She awakens in the meat locker as Jo opens the door. He frees her legs from a brittle cocoon-like substance and covers her as best as he can. Jo tells her that she has been initiated and that she should go.

Kim brings a policeman, Detective Burt, to her apartment. There, everything is spotless and there's no trace of Hank's body. At her office's Christmas party, Eli claims that Hank is away on an assignment. Janice is there, and welcomes her to the family. Furious and confused, Kim storms out of the office and walks down onto the sidewalk. She notices Ricky following her and ducks into a motel room. Her feet begin to get painfully hot. She jumps into the shower, but they still burst into tiny flames. Ricky enters the room and, in pain, Kim agrees to kidnap Hank's teenaged brother Lonnie to complete the initiation. Kim lures Lonnie out of his house, and Ricky murders Hank's parents by strangling them with Christmas lights, then setting the house on fire.

On the building roof, Kim is asked to stab Lonnie; instead, she stabs Fima. In anger, Fima pulls the knife from her stomach and stabs Ricky. A giant larva feeds on Ricky, as Kim's legs begin to get hot. Kim's hands knot themselves together once again, then they start to burst into flame. Kim then stabs her fused hands into Fima's wound. This transfers the curse of Lilith to Fima, and Fima dives off the roof just as her daughter had.



The film was released directly to video[2] on November 21, 1990.[1]

In December 2009, it was released on DVD for the first time as part of a three pack with Better Watch Out! and The Toy Maker by Lions Gate Entertainment.[3] That DVD set is now out of print, and unlike the third film, this film and the fifth film haven't been reissued on DVD by Lions Gate yet.


Jeffrey Jonsson of The Daily Utah Chronicle referred to the film as "quite putrid" and criticized it for its disconnection from the series' previous films, adding that it was not worth seeking out "unless you have a thing for big, slimey devil-worms".[4]

In a contemporary review, Variety described the film as "impressive, disturbing entertainment" and that "Thanks to the imaginative effects of Screaming Mad George...[the effects are] hard to watch but just what modern horror fans crave".[2] The review noted that Neith Hunter "makes a very strong impression here in an uninhibited performance".[2]

Online magazine Flickering Myth called the film an "anti-Christmas" movie and likened it to Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) because of its lack of relation to the former films in the series; its special effects and use of bugs also drew comparisons to The Fly (1986).[5]



  1. Hartl, John (November 16, 1990). "'Deadly Night 4' heads directly to video stores". Herald and Review. Decatur, Illinois. p. B5 via
  2. Prouty 1994: "No page number in the book. Review is dated "January 14, 1991""
  3. "Silent Night, Deadly Night (Triple Feature)". Retrieved April 13, 2011.
  4. Jonsson, Jeffrey D. "Santa Claus is coming to town... with an ax". The Daily Utah Chronicle. Salt Lake City. p. 9 via
  5. "Anti-Christmas Movies – Initiation: Silent Night, Deadly Night 4 (1990)". Flickering Myth. December 19, 2013. Retrieved December 29, 2016.


  • Prouty, Howard H., ed. (1994). Variety Television Reviews 1923-1992. Garland Publishing Inc. ISBN 0-8240-3796-0.
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