• A slasher rehash goes well south on the remake bandwagon.
Genre: Horror, slasher
Director: Glen Morgan
DVD released: April 3, 2007
Cast: Katie Cassidy, Lacey Chabert, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Michelle Trachtenberg, Oliver Hudson, Andrea Martin
As an introductory disclaimer, it should be noted that I haven't seen the original 1974 Black Christmas (aka Stranger in the House and Silent Night, Evil Night), a prototypical slasher flick in the Halloween vein. On the other hand, relatively few people have seen this remake, which crept silently into theaters at Christmas and swiftly exited with little notice. The movie sets the slasher motif at a sorority house during Christmas break with a handful of girls/victims staying behind with the house mother rather than heading home like their sensible sorority sisters did. Screaming young girls are, of course, choice victims for this flavor of horror, and the holiday theme opens the door to some interesting imagery. As the victims are picked off one by one, some tedious back-story details the origin of the attic-dwelling killer. The problem here is that what may have been shocking in 1974 is merely more of the same uninspired horror in the mid-2000s; the best thing the remake has going for it is the juxtaposition of dread with happy, shiny Christmas decor. It seems at best utterly empty, an exercise in futility and a rather obvious jumping-on-the-bandwagon remake. Director Glen Morgan did far, far superior work penning some of the best episodes of The X-Files; he also directed a better movie, Final Destination. Notable cast selections include Lacy Chabert (Party of Five) as one of the girls and Oliver Hudson (Rules of Engagement) as a doomed boyfriend. Bob Clark, director of the original, had a bizarrely diverse filmography including Porky's, Turk 182 and, remarkably, A Christmas Story, which never fails to send me scurrying for the remote control. Clark tragically died, along with his son, in an auto crash in California in April. // DVD notes // It's available "exclusively at Blockbuster," which explains why I couldn't find it at my usual rental joint, which, unlike Blockbuster, always has everything. The disc includes four brief deleted scenes plus three others in expanded, alternate and international form. Of the three alternate endings, two are quite different from the final cut, and the understated approach of the first was not a bad idea. Only true masochists will want to delve into the two featurettes.