In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Holiday Horror. Old & New.

My friend Serena regularly hosts horror movie nights at her place and this time the theme was Christmas horror. Over spiked eggnog, we watched the Bob Clark classic Black Christmas and its recent Hollywood counterpart back to back.

One is a classic. The other. Not so much.

It had been a while since I’d seen the original and the refresher reminded me not only about how good it is, but also how influential, as well. During the opening sequence, you can immediately see the similarities between it and horror movie staple Halloween. Black Christmas also takes it time. It doesn’t rush into things. The prank phone calls are an extremely creepy device. I remember seeing it for the first time and thinking wow, for a movie made in the mid-seventies, they are throwing the word ‘cunt’ around fairly liberally. Ah, us Canadians, always stretching the boundaries. We’re like the Europeans of North America. Margot Kidder is great as the house lush, Olivia Hussey adds some Shakespearean exuberance (i.e. overacting) and Andrea Martin is good for long… awkward… pauses. And for giggling at all of her fellow sorority sisters jokes. John Saxon rocks of course, as well.

For a film that was Halloween’s - the grandfather of the American slasher – main influence, Christmas isn’t really a slasher at all. At its heart, it is a slow burning mystery thriller.

So, after Black Christmas ’74 came to its chilling conclusion (I’ve always really liked that ending; absurd as it is), Serena popped in the remake. I had already seen it because she – being one of only people I know who actually likes the movie – had played it for me when it first came out on DVD. I promptly went to the fridge to grab another beer because well, I was gonna need it.

I really don’t know what Glen Morgan and company were trying to accomplish with this movie. I mean, there are points where it feels like an old style genre flick, but really, it’s everything the original isn’t. There are more people dispatched in the first twenty minutes of this movie than in the entire span of the original. So much for taking your time. None of the characters are likeable, the plot is incoherent – the first two acts seem like two separate movies running in tandem – and the climax is totally incomprehensible. I guess one positive is that since all of the actresses are fairly well known, it's not evident which one is the protagonist, so that’s something I suppose. At this point, I would like to shed a tear for Mary Elizabeth Winstead. I guess that’s a spoiler, but since this isn’t The Usual Suspects or The Sixth Sense, I don’t think I’m ruining anyone’s day by revealing that.

I suppose at the end of the day, Black Christmas ’06 is mildly entertaining. Being a gorehound, I think that I would have enjoyed the EXCESSIVE gore a lot more if I weren’t in the back of my mind comparing it to the minimalist nature of the original. Unfortunately, that seems to be the late motif of these seventies revival remakes, doesn’t it? Both the Texas and Halloween remakes replaced suggestion with outright splatter and are lesser films because of it. But I digress. I’ll leave my remake rant for another day.

Oh, and we also watched the hilariously bad Jack Frost. I hadn’t seen it since it originally came out on video – come on, how could I have resisted that holographic coverbox? I’m glad that Shannon Elizabeth was able to take her experience being raped by an evil snowman and parlay it into a fairly successful Hollywood career. Good job, girl!

Jack Frost needs to be seen to be believed. I CAN SEE YOUR HOUSE FROM UP HEEEERE!!!


teddy crescendo said...

michelle trachtenberg is one of the most gorgeous chicks i`ve ever seen.

Jay Clarke said...

She's a looker, no doubt about that.