We started off the season with a bloody good Red Christmas, and now we end it in a grimy puddle of Black Christmas.
I’m not a fan of the original 1974 Black Christmas and don’t really care if it’s “the genesis of slasher movies”. I didn’t enjoy it the solitary time I watched it, and though I should probably give it another viewing as it’s been about 20 years since I did, I probably won’t. Time is money and some asshole tossed my pocket watch out of a window because he wanted to see time fly…
Don’t waste your time sending me hate mail, because I just feed it all unseen to Amut. Anyway, as was the style at the time of the early 2000s, remakes for slasher movie staples were being regurgitated in waves, so it’s of zero surprise that the prototype for the genre was going to be dragged into the undertow. If you’re like me and managed to evade watching it for the last 12 years, allow this potluck of spoilers to sate whatever curious hunger you have and save you the time better spent learning to play the harpsichord. Consider it my Cthulhumas gift to you.
“Santa’s not coming for you. He was shot down by the Russians.”
Rather than relate the events of the feature to you in the chronology they’re presented, I’m going to makes things much easier and throw the backstory at you all at once rather than peppered in via “frequent flashbacks” mode. Here goes – Billy Lenz had the kind of upbringing that would turn any cherub-faced ragamuffin into the type of psycho killer (Qu’est-ce que c’est!) that would cure even G.G. Allin of the worst case of constipation (aka the “Wisconsin Death Trip”, caused by eating a cheese wheel the size of a tractor tire). Born in 1970 with a permanent jaundice (my own was fortunately temporary), the lad’s skin took a yellow tone that made him look like he’d been grown in a test tube full of liquid waste from some frat boy on the “Monster and Miller” diet.
While his dad still loved him, Billy’s mom was about as warm as Joan Collins, treating her son like a case of crotch rot. As if being raised in Dickensian conditions weren’t traumatizing enough, Christmas Eve ’75 was where things took a dizzying downward spiral for Billy from which he’d never recover: when Mom and her extracurricular lover killed dear Dad! When he’s caught sneaky-peekying the pair as they Gacy their victim’s remains, Mom chases him into the attic and locks him up there… permanently!
After 5 years of getting the Hugo Simpsons treatment (no word on what type of fish heads he was fed), the now 10 year-old receives his first expression of affection from his frigid mother when, following an unsuccessful drunken screw with her passed out partner, she creeps into the boy’s sanctuary and proceeds to rape him. Albeit needless nastiness likely included for the sake of shock value, the scene is shot in such a disgusting, depressing, predatory atmosphere that it genuinely reaches down my throat and punches my stomach from the inside just thinking about it. Congrats to writer-director Glen Morgan for reminding me that I’m NOT completely inured to the horrible lengths humans are capable of. Now, pardon me while I tamp my vomit.
The (presumably) solitary forced solicitation results in the beast being fertilized, leading to the eventual harvest of Billy’s sister-daughter (daughster) Agnes. Despite also carrying the family “piss skin” gene, mother dearest shows Agnes the love she never had for Billy (better than the “love” she did show him *barf*), until Christmas Eve some years later when Billy finally snaps. Killing both Mom and his stepdad, then eating one of Agnes’s eyeballs, Old Yeller proceeded to make Christmas cookies from his mom’s back skin (damn, those cutters really do cut!) while awaiting the arrival of the cops. Put away in a mental asylum for 20 or so years, the son of suburban Lilith finally escapes his confinement and makes a beeline to his childhood hellhole. Blame the egg nog if you like, but I have a feeling this isn’t going to go well for the sorority sisters currently occupying the abode.
In an effort to further differentiate this remake from its source material, much of the slasher fodder are saddled with suspicious character contrivances to plant seeds of doubt in the viewers’ minds about who the mystery killer among them really is. Not only does the sheer number of these false leads get incredibly convoluted, they also lead to ABSOLUTELY FUCKING NOWHERE, because the killer living in the crawlspaces this whole time is just Agnes! She’s then joined by her fugitive brather in a family reunion body count that, impressive it may be, ultimately left me overwhelmingly unfulfilled….
Made all the worse by the tacking on of an entirely extraneous epilogue sequence that not only blows out my logic chip (what coroner doesn’t check to make sure a crime scene’s bodies are DEAD before bagging them up for the morgue?!), but feels suspiciously like an homage to Halloween II, leaving me with, to put it kindly, “mixed feelings”. Sure, we get to see a pair of defib pads used to fry someone’s brain and another person decorating Vlad Tepes’ Christmas tree, but we had a perfectly good ending with daughster and brather being burned alive in the house that the movie chose to ignore.
Aside from a few moments of legitimate laugh-out-loud-itude (including the circumstances of Andrea Martin’s Mrs. Mac’s sudden death) and the occasion jolly moment of set piece gore, Black Christmas is another pointless production that never needed to happen. Sure, its modest budget of 9 million returned 21 million at the box office, but here we are, 12 years later, with a movie most have forgotten and those who remember tend to spit on the ground after saying its name. It’s not just a piece of coal Santa leaves in your stocking, it’s a steaming pile of Donner dump that you have to scale the roof to dispose of before your whole house is left reeking of reindeer refuse. Just another addition to the wreath of remake wretch. Happy fucking holidays, folks.
One-and-a-Half Red Herrings out-of-Five
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