11/27/2016

BLACK CHRISTMAS (2006) (Review)

Title: Black Christmas (Black Xmas)  

Writer/ Director:  Glen Morgan
Cast: Katie Cassidy, Michelle Trachtenberg, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Lacey Chabert, Kristen Cloke
Year: 2006
Min: 84

Several years ago a disturbed young man named Billy killed his mom and her lover, and gouged one of the eyes of his daughter (whose mother is his own mom, via an incestuous moment of sexual abuse on her part). He gets locked up in an insane asylum. But, on Christmas Eve he escapes and heads back to his old home, where a sorority now live. A small group of the girls are celebrating the holidays there and soon, one by one, they are killed by Billy.
A remake of the original Bob Clark (who also made A Christmas Story!) classic flick from 1974, this nasty little slasher is far better than perhaps you may have been lead to believe. When the movie first came out it had a ton of hate from fans of the original, as well as spawning controversy thanks to a group of close minded buffoons who felt that the movie somehow hurt the "sanctity" of Christmas or some lame shit like that. The former I can understand, but I'll debate here why I think they are wrong. The later is just bullshit.
To it's advantage Black Christmas has, thankfully, slowly gained a cult following over the years, as more horror fans have watched it and given its due chance. Those who have yet to see it are really doing themselves (and the movie and its cast and crew) a disservice. Even those who only watched it once and hated it, should give it a new look, with more open eyes.
First and foremost, no this movie is not on the level of the Clark classic, but then not many remakes are on the level of the movie that inspired it. And, in the case of the original Black Christmas, it is one of the most important and influential slasher flicks ever. It is amazing to think that it precedes both Halloween and Friday the 13th (and even When a Stranger Calls, another horror film that is "inspired" by it). So clearly this movie had an uphill battle from the get go. But, here is the thing, it knew it did, and as all good remakes should, it went down its own path.
A major difference is the identity of Billy, in the original he is a mystery. But not here, the remake is not interested in keeping him a secret. He is given a decidedly sleazy backstory, one filled with the aforementioned incest abuse and cannibalism, with a touch of very black humor. It helps to add a good sense of shock and a welcome fucked up quality to the movie.
The movie has some great gore, unlike the restrained original film. Going in this route makes sense in setting itself and in upping the stakes. It also just adds to the fun of it all. There is lots of eyeball violence, as well as splashing and splattering blood, stabbings, impalings, a head gets sliced open, and more. All of the gore FX are excellently handled by Chris Divett. They are sure to please splatter fans watching this flick.
The mostly female cast is quite good, as well as stunningly beautiful. In fact, I think this movie has one of the most babetastic casts I have ever seen in an American horror movie. Most the girls play likeable characters, with a couple really standing out with some really great lines in their dialogue. Michelle (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) Trachtenberg and Crystal (of Final Destination 3 here playing a lush and being a blast in her role) are two who deliver some of those great lines. It should also be noted, cause in a slasher movie it is very important, the goregous Ms. Lowe does get nude in a welcome shower scene. Katie Cassidy is quite good in what is actually my favorite movie role of hers. As you can see from those babes the hottie factor is super high, and they are joined by Mary Elizabeth (Cloverfield Lane) Winstead, Lacy (Lost in Space) Chabert, MILFy Kristen (Final Destination) Cloake and more.
But, it's not just the ladies that look good. The movie has a beautiful look to it. Director Glen Morgan really uses the holiday colors of red and green to add a wonderful Argentoesque beauty to it. He also keeps the pacing and movie moving briskly. This keeps the movie fun and helps to make it a great time to be had.
Admit ably the movie like, any slasher, falls under certain cliches. yet, it still manages to avoid one or two and adds a twist here and there. It does come off as a bit empty headed. But, I don't think anyone watching a movie like this looking for a thought provoking piece. They just want a fast and fun movie, and this movie delivers that in a high dosage.
Perhaps the most head scrathingly odd thing about this is that the trailer (which you'll see at the bottom of this review) shows a bunch of stuff not in the movie. From what I heard scenes were shot specifically and only for the trailer. This is a pretty stupid idea that surely pissed some people off. I know, I was a little disappointed to not see them (like the spinning lights/ blades scene) in the movie. You are well advised to not expect everything in the trailer to be in the movie. 
Underrated and sometimes unjustly lumped in with bad remakes, Black Christmas deserves another look. It's great that it has been gaining a following over the years, but I still feel it needs more of it. The movie is gory, fun, fast paced, good looking, both in terms of the actual movie and its stunning female cast. it's aged quite well, and has become a yearly holiday tradition of mine. When judged as its own movie, this holiday horror flick ranks as a nasty and great Yuletide time to be had.

 

3 out of 4

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