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Earlier this year, I tore the re-make of When A Stranger Calls apart,
and said at the time, that if Hollywood won't bother making new horror
movies, but instead simply re-make old or foreign ones, then just stop.
I stand by that.
Black Christmas actually surprised me. First, it was actually a lot more brutal and violent than I was expecting, considering it's 15 rating (UK). The other, was the way it re-worked the original.
The original, which I haven't seen for awhile was as much a whodunit as anything else. Here we're spared that. We know pretty much from the start who is killing here.
What the makers have done, is simply turn the story into a stalk and slash movie, which as I said is quite brutal in areas. For me a movie of this type stands or falls not on the killer or how they kill, but on the potential victims in the story. If you care about them, then you feel bad they are killed. If you don't, then give me an axe, I'll do it myself!! Black Christmas does enough to make you care about each character, by making each one a little different, but yet, having enough in character to make you believe they could get along normally. So when the killing starts, you do care about them, and begin to wonder who, or how many will make it to the end alive.
The death scenes are well set up and done, which isn't surprising considering the makers also did Final Destination 1 & 3. If I have a problem with them is that the film is maybe a little over-edited so at times, you aren't sure if certain characters have been killed or not.
This movie has been getting a critical mauling in certain areas. But I found on watching it, that it's fun, enjoyable, with a black(!) sense of humour, some very nice looking actresses in it!, and for it's (admittedly short) running time very entertaining. And when I go to see a movie like this, that's what I want.
Enjoyable late-night fun.
I know I will get heat for having enjoyed Black Christmas 2006. Hell, I
can't really even call this a "good" movie. It is severely flawed in
many ways, and it's not even closely comparable to the original.
Monster holes are present in the story line. The cinematography at
times is choppy, dark, and grainy. And, most of all, there is ZERO
suspense. How can a movie with such negativity possibly get a 7 out of
10?Well, technical goofs aside, there is a lot of fun to be had here!
It has a completely different atmosphere and tone than the original had, as well as a completely different approach at it's villain. For one, the violence and murders in the 2006 version are much gorier and more over the top! Okay, so the original's approach at implied violence worked much better, but I appreciated the filmmaker's aiming for something different! I had a lot of fun watching Billy maim and dismember all of the sorority girls and their boyfriends! The kills were absolutely crazy! A lot of blood splashing!
Unfortunately, the characters here, unlike in 1974, are purely 2-dimensional and unforgivably stupid. However, the performances were very well done, and there were some truly witty lines of dialogue! One thing this film reaped was dark humor! Much appreciated! I especially LOVED the performance done by Billy's mother! She was the best actress in the film and unfortunately had the least screen time.
Also different from the original is the fact that Billy is identified and his origin is revealed. Again, this completely takes away the suspense and mystery of the killer like the original's had. BUT, the flashback scenes were very well done! It really got to you and was disturbing to say the least. It also did a very good job of portraying a morbid family. Well done on that part!
Again, as I said before, there is NO suspense here! The violence and scares are pretty much laughable, but that's why this film is fun! It's so bad and flawed that it's a riot and a good time! My advice: Think of it as a completely different film. In no way does this hurt the original. The 1974 version still exists. The 2006 version will go nowhere, but it will always remain a fun little piece of cheese to watch whenever anyone wants to have a good time.
I had very high expectations for this film. I thought that this might be the one "Re-make" that is the exception because of the involvement of the original film maker, Bob Clark, serving as assistant producer. BOY was I wrong!!! There are some exceptional murder sequences in this flick but that is not enough. Once again, as is the case in so many "Re-makes" the storyline has been almost completely changed! The producers do not seem to realize the elements that made the original film scary in the first place which are now missing! Such as the fact that, in the original you were never quite sure who the killer was and they never revealed it. Now not only do they reveal it, but they add an entire background that is so laughably unbelievable that it dilutes the film's ability to frighten the viewer. The over-the-top gore sequences alone do not make for a frightening movie and the "twist" ending is quite laughable! What they add to the ending of this movie is utterly ridiculous and absolutely unnecessary! Aside from exceptional gore effects, the only other saving grace is the presence of Andrea Martin from the original film as Mrs. Mack but they should have really tried harder to make the characters from the original more like those in the original...and the phone calls, a crucial element to the terrifying experience of the original, are absolutely laughable! Skip this one and watch the original.
Many years ago, a mistreated boy named Billy Lenz slaughtered his
family in a one-house killing spree. Not surprisingly, this had him
committed to an asylum. Since then, his house has been converted into a
sorority house. And this Christmas, Billy wants to be home with his
family to celebrate.
Let me say a few nice things before I start venting. First, I have to say I must have been a very good boy this year because I can't recall such an attractive cast in the recent past. Three of my all-time favorite young ladies show up here: Michelle Trachtenberg ("Eurotrip"), Lacey Chabert ("Pleasure Drivers"), and Mary Elizabeth Winstead (numerous recent horror films, including "Final Destination 3"). It was quite the visual feast!
I also enjoyed the inclusion of Andrea Martin as Ms. MacHenry, the house mother. Martin was one of the college girls from the original film and I think it's important to pay some sort of tribute like this (as well as the use of "Clark Sanitarium"). She was a good pick, better than Margot Kidder.
And the use of incest and cannibalism is always a plus (both of which were absent in the original)... and the gore was decent (though not great) with the constant eye-gouging thanks to a glass unicorn. I do love unicorns, as my embroidered unicorn pillow might suggest. While I do not think it was intentional, I appreciate how the unicorn reminded me of another great classic, "The Abominable Dr. Phibes".
But let's start the ripping: Glen Morgan was probably the wrong guy to direct this. He brought along cast members from his prior films (again, such as "Final Destination 3") which was fine, but seemed to put very little thought into any of this. And his films have more of a teenager quality to them, making even the gore, incest and cannibalism seem very youth-oriented, if that makes any sense. R-Rated or not, this was meant for teens to watch. He could have really stepped it up a dozen notches.
The girls get little or no personalities. I don't think I learned half of their names and had difficulty keeping them straight. Maybe reduce the number by one or two so we could at least see them for ten minutes? On the flip side, the film focused almost entirely on Billy Lenz, providing his entire back story. The original never touched on this at all, which made him creepier and more mysterious. Here, there's nothing strange about him (besides the yellow skin and eyes, which play no importance). Obviously, Morgan never learned the secret of good horror: don't show the killer.
Furthermore, they wasted the character of the boyfriend Kyle (who was named Peter in the original). Here, he is briefly thought by the girls to be the killer, but the audience knows the whole time that he's not. In the original, you never know whether or not Peter is the killer (in fact, many people who watched all the way to the end still aren't sure). If Kyle isn't a red herring, and his only purpose is to bring up some sex tape which was not important to the story (despite being shown again and again), then what the hell was he doing in the movie at all?
Other great elements from the original were toned down: the police station scenes, the drunk girl (who now passes out right away). And a shower scene was added, but no explicit nudity, making it almost a complete waste of time.
I'll stop before I start frothing at the mouth. Because, seriously, I was let down. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed this movie, but it was clearly the teen remake (not unlike the newer "When A Stranger Calls"). If you need a fix of girls getting strangled with a plastic bag and stabbed in the eye (and that's really all you'll see), check this out. Otherwise, you'll find plenty of great slashers out there on the video shelf. And, of course, you simply cannot beat the original "Black Christmas", one of the best horror films ever made.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I know by now that when you watch a teen slasher movie you cannot set
high expectations. If I go into it expecting the usual formula (a
deranged killer separates the hapless youngsters and kills them
one-by-one in horrible ways) then it should be fine. Somehow, though,
Black Christmas managed to disappoint me anyway.
I don't, for example, expect the acting to be stellar. Honestly, even if there are a few skilled actors hidden among the T&A the typical slasher script is not going to lend itself to them flexing any dramatic muscles. But, please. Oliver Hudson played the Kyle character so laughably wooden that it was really annoying. And, what happened to Lacy Chabert? She was touted at one time as being "one of the most promising young actresses" but we find her in this dismal mess as not only one of the generic victims, but also one that gets offed halfway through the movie. No, even by slasher standards, the performances are uniformly horrible.
Ah well, there's the gore right? That's the real reason to watch a slasher flick. Strike two for Black Christmas here. And I watched the "Unrated" version. I can only imagine how tame and unimaginative the theatrical "R" version must have been. The one big thing seemed to be the eyeball. Everyone had their eye plucked out, or poked out or even shoved through the back of their head. But, if you're going to make that your central gore theme, at least know the eye. They're actually pretty delicate organs, easily punctured and drained. In Black Christmas they were plucked out and waved about on ridiculously fake looking stalks or, as mentioned, shoved through heads, all the while remaining perfectly intact. The eyes held up so well that the killer used them as Christmas tree ornaments. There was a scene in Alias (Season 4 I think) where, because the writers understood the nature of the eye, Marshall's plucking of one caused far more discomfort without the viewer actually seeing any of the gore than all of Black Christmas' fake splatter combined.
Okay, well, how about the story? Your slasher flick needs a killer with a background so twisted that, in retribution, you can only imagine the terror he or she is going to visit on the victims. Strike three, and Black Christmas is out. Billy Lenz is never going to have to worry about being mentioned in the same breath as Vorhees, Myers or Krueger. He was a kid whose mother, with her boyfriend, murdered his father. She knew Billy witnessed them burying the father but we didn't see her do anything violent to him. She made him stay in the attic and even went up to have sex with him. Eh that's twisted but not in the way to spawn a slasher-flick villain. Oh wait, Billy was also born with a rare liver disease that made his skin yellow. This didn't really matter as most of his scenes were far too darkly lit to notice. Okay but he did have a daughter/sister from his union with mom. She also turned into a slasher-flick villainess. *yawn* It's all really just weak. Including the movie's catchphrase, hissed repeatedly by both killers, "(Insert victim's name here) is in our family noooowwww!" Okay. Whatever.
After the credits finally rolled we hopped over to the bonus features as I always like to watch the theatrical trailer after I've seen a movie. I don't like to watch them beforehand, as trailers now tend to give away plot points. That wouldn't have been an issue here of course, but I enjoy seeing the trailers to see what key elements they decided would be the most useful in convincing folks to see the movie. I noticed in the bonus features that they included an "Alternate Ending". I didn't bother watching it but it made me wish they had included a link to an "Alternate Movie". A better one.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Black Christmas is the remake of the 1974 horror classic about a group
of sorority girls who are menaced by a killer on Christmas Eve.
However, where the original had a simple plot that involved a killer in
the attic making creepy phone calls to the girls before the killing
starts. Well, I guess the makers of this version decided that wasn't
hip enough. That wasn't "2006 generic slasher movie" enough, so they
added a bogus back story and some twisted elements, and we got
worthless, mindless dreck.
Everything that made the original good was gone in this movie. The first movie had everything. Point of view shots for the killer so we never actually see him. In the original we know nothing about the killer or his motives. We have to piece together our own back story through his phone calls. There are suspects throughout the movie who we think the killer could be. There's a detective investigating the calls. All of the girls are likable. In this version we are treated to a handful of unlikeable characters. We know who the killer is right away, and a ridiculous back story is spoon fed to us. It involves Billy (the killer in the original) witnessing his mother kill his father. His mother remarries and keeps him locked in the attic until one night she decides to have sex with him. Billy fathers his little sister, and then when she's six he stabs her eye out and kills his mother and step father. Agnes ends up in the sorority house and ends up committing most of the murders, and Billy, who is SUPPOSED to be the main killer, plays second fiddle and does basically nothing. Even the "calls are coming from in the house" twist is gone.
The writing is just god awful, and it shows what the writers think teenagers are like nowadays. It's wonderful seeing such brilliantly thought out dialogue as "Guys, it's, like, Christmas Eve". The acting isn't any better. The only remotely okay acting comes from Andrea Martin who is in here to pay respect to the original, but it's useless. This is the worst acting I've seen in a horror movie since the Saw trilogy.
Stay far away from this mess. It's complete disrespect to a classic horror film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
BC is precisely what the dumbed-down masses deserve. I have no idea
what the original is like, but it can only be better than this
incredibly uninvolving and dull garbage.
A bunch of bickering females, realizing they're in danger, refuse to leave the house - even though it's a house in which mass-murder was committed - and instead decide to hang around so that they can be butchered one-by-one. (It's the old Eddie Murphy "if the house is haunted, get the f*** out!" line.) Everything that occurs in this typical slasher film, the worst of all horror genres, is cretinous and no amount of "spicing it up" with cannibalism and incest can change that.
The supposedly major twist at the end is that the killer's sister/daughter is in the house, too; only a moron could not see that coming. Even worse, Agnes is played by a man, and rather large man. I have no idea what they were thinking. Agnes was shown to be an ugly girl at 12, but not MANLY. There is no explanation as to when or why this creature decided to have sex-change surgery, accompanied with massive, almost Mickeyrourkian (or Cheresque) facial surgery.
Nothing makes sense, but even a silly little slasher film needs to have a semblance of logic. It isn't quite clear why Agnes decided to help Billy kill utter strangers, when she has every reason to avenge her lost eye by chopping off Billy's own head. So basically Agnes was grateful to her brother for having attacked her so viciously, is she?...
However, if you think the makers of this crap-o-rama were satisfied with boring you only with cretinous house activities, think again. The movie decides to drag on by resurrecting the brother/sister-father/daughter couple in a hospital morgue, after which the two proceed to find the only remaining survivors with ease that even those who designed the building couldn't muster. Plus, I never quite understood why they'd so single-mindedly go for the blonde and the brunette, when they had a plethora of staff and other patients to kill.
Did you know that an ice-cone falling from only a meter above you will pierce your flesh like soft butter? Apparently, the women all had very soft heads, which is something I can't disagree with...
I also love the way Billy escaped the lunatic asylum. If all madhouse guards were this dumb then all such asylums would be empty all the time.
Apparently, when a madhouse guard is killed, it takes about ten weeks for anyone to find the body and alert the police.
If it was snowing that much and the roads were blocked, then how the hell did Agnes and Billy get to the house? Surely they never had the time to learn to drive. Or maybe they just took a bus. Or grew wings and flew. Or maybe both of them were locked up in hospitals that were conveniently close to the house. Mere meters away...
Surely a candidate for one of the worst horror film of all time.
I am a fan of all sorts of horror films including stalker / slasher
type movies and this is perhaps the worst modern example of one of
these I have ever sat through. None of the characters are likable so
you do not care if they are murdered, in fact there is so little
character development that they are all interchangeable. Despite some
reasonable gore there is so little tension that it drags on for what
seems like hours.
In the end it simply does not work because of so many unbelievable situations. They are stalked around a sorority house that is miles from anywhere (are you not supposed to share these to live NEAR a campus ?). Even when dead bodies start to pile up they still go off into the dark on their own to check out noises !!! Every situation is ridiculous, how the killer fools the guard at the asylum for example. No one would ever act in the way the guard does and this theme follows the whole film through.
You do wonder how the inept script was ever green lighted. One to avoid, even for fans of the genre.
Some movies are very confident in their ability to do many things
right, thus ensuring an intriguing experience. A movie like "Black
Christmas," however, is mostly confident in its ability to do many
things wrong, yet still remain watchable on some bizarre level.
Needless to say, it's an overhaul of the seminal 1974 slasher of the
same name, in which a lonely sorority house is besieged by a killer
making obscene phone-calls from the attic over the holidays. The 2006
version takes this premise and attempts to build a backstory around
murderer Billy Lentz, who remained a shadowy specter throughout Bob
Clark's film. I have to give writer-director Glen Morgan credit: while
this bit of character development is wildly uneven (including giving
Billy a sister-in-madness), it is consistent with the wildly
inconsistent rest of the film. Morgan brought a strong sense of macabre
humor and visual style (I dare call it "Burtonesuqe") to his
exceptional remake of "Willard" (helped by Crispin Glover's
delightfully wacky performance), but his stylistic leanings are simply
the wrong match for a "Black Christmas" remake. There is not a single
suspenseful scene to be found, and the violence is so exaggerated that
it defuses any horrific effect (seriously, a killer who eats
eyeballs?); additionally, the characters are so ill-defined that it's
hard to keep track of who's who (had the number of girls been whittled
down the point where they had actual personalities, we might have
actually given a damn about them). And, for a slasher film coming in
the wake of "Scream" and its kindred, "Black Christmas" just shows a
general lack of common sense when an obvious threat is lurking (can you
really feel sorry for a security guard who lingers in a maniac's room
long enough to get knocked off?). But in an odd way, "Black Christmas"
avoids the oblivion of crappy horror remakes due to Morgan's
impassioned, assured sense of visual stylethat being said, it's
nowhere near as good as its predecessor.
4.5 out of 10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It was not a bad idea to attempt a remake of Black Christmas. The
original, with all its scurrying around in a pre-historic telephone
exchange, was ripe for updating. The new version, however, brings the
technology up to date and keeps the creepy chocolate box setting, but
loses just about everything else that was decent about the original.
The storyline for the first film was slow, but successfully built up
suspense as Billy picked off each of the girls one by one, while the
police gradually tracked down his whereabouts. In the remake, the
police are irrelevant - they can't help because there's too much snow -
and so the whole thing after the first twenty minutes is focused on
establishing a dreary line-up of red herrings while Billy, or whoever
it is, quickly takes out each of the girls. One of the genuinely creepy
things about the original was the way Billy's identity and motivation
were never explained. Who was he? What was his connection to the house.
Who is Agnes who he keeps groaning on about? The end of the film left
the audience unsettled as Billy remained undetected and we still didn't
know anything about him. For the new film the writers make the mistake
of going all out to tell us everything and more about Billy and his
uninteresting backstory. The flashbacks take us away from the tense
situation in the house and are ultimately only confusing. Given their
screwed up childhood, shouldn't we feel sorry for Billy and Agnes? Yes
- but no, they want to eat your eyeballs.
It's not only Billy and Agnes who are one dimensional. None of the girls is given anything more than the most obvious of personality traits. Most of them even look the same, so except for the blonde "final girl," I couldn't tell you anything about what distinguishes each of them from one another. Again, this is in stark contrast with the original film in which the main characters are interesting and memorable. Margot Kidder in particular was striking as the loudmouth proto-feminist who drinks too much and suffers a memorable asthma attack. And then Olivia Hussey brought real credibility as well as a strange kind of Virgin Mary sexuality to the central role. Remarkably her arguments with her boyfriend focused on her wanting to have an abortion while he wanted to get married and start a family. Unthinkable in modern Hollywood - so this has to be turned into arguments about her boyfriend cheating on her with one of the girls. Depressingly unimaginative.
The endings of the two films are again worth comparing. The original ends with a striking but subtle twist. The ringing of the phone as the camera slowly zooms away from the attic window provided a genuinely "black" ending, signifying the death of everyone in the house even as we see a policeman guarding the front door. The new film has the predictable - "s/he's not really dead - look behind you" - moment. And then it all just ends, as if the film-makers knew that by this time no one in the audience would really care anyway.
For a movie that sends you to bed over Christmas locking your doors and shivering at the creaky sounds coming from upstairs, settle down with some sherry and mince pies with the DVD of the original Black Christmas.
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