The calls are coming from inside the house

I don't have many Christmas-themed traditions other than present shopping, hanging some lights in my house, and listening to Christmas music, but I do like to watch a few holiday-themed movies and TV specials. One of the obvious, no-brainers is the Charlie Brown Christmas special. Elf is another one. But being a huge horror flick fan as well, the original Black Christmas is also another one.

I've written about this flick for Richard's site, and my opinions still stand. But I'd like to add a few things now that I've seen the film on a bigger TV (42-inch over 32-inch made for a much different experience) and after I've seen the absolutely awful remake that for clarity purposes I'll call Black X-Mas.

I never knew how much humor was laced into the original. The humor tends to break up some of the tension of the story, but the humor doesn't derail the story. Matter of fact, it's like you get to take a breath between all those obscene phonecalls and creepy camera angles.

Second of all, Art Hindle is in this movie. Art was in one of scariest movies I've ever seen (David Cronenberg's The Brood) as a major character, and he has a strong supporting role in this film. So seeing him again, I totally was that guy saying, "Hey, it's that guy!" Luckily nobody else was home or around to hear me geek out.

Lastly, thanks to seeing Black X-Mas, I can truly understand how story retooling in a remake is a bad, bad idea (nevermind the fact that the idea of an average remake is usually pointless and offensive to the original). The makers of Black X-Mas thought it would be good to explain exactly everything that happened to Billy before he went insane. Plus, they thought it would be good to fill up the sorority house with back-stabbing, annoying, and uninteresting girls. Yeah, that's the way you do(n't) do it.

To me, what makes Black Christmas so great is the sense that you're watching full-fledged people trying to remain strong in a terrifying situation. Save for a couple of characters, you can't really stereotype the characters. There is no The Brain, The Bitch, The Super-Bitch, The Virgin, and so on. And those obscene phonecalls are still disturbing to hear and explain plenty without explaining everything to the audience.

If anything, I'm glad there's Black X-Mas, so I can appreciate Black Christmas more and more and more with each passing Christmas.


Richard of DM said…
Sad part is, I love both the original film and the remake. Black X-mas is infinitely inferior to the Black Christmas but holy poop, I love it! Two more good Christmas-themed horrors you should check out (if you haven't already): the myopic and bizarre Silent Night, Bloody Night (1974) and the low key but totally rewarding Christmas Evil (1980). Good jolly stuff.