Sometimes, it helps not being such a big fan of a film that’s being remade. Now, I like Bob Clarke’s original Black Christmas just fine, even though I think it is a bit blandly directed, a problem I have with all of Clark’s films. However it’s a movie whose supporters often tend to come over as rather overexcited about this particular proto slasher, probably because he was so unfairly overlooked for quite some time. Once the “It’s better than Halloween” card is played, though, and the Halloween in question isn’t the Rob Zombie abomination, I tend to back away very slowly and very carefully.
Anyway, given my position, I can enjoy Glen Morgan’s in name and very basic
set-up only remake for what it is: someone’s platonic ideal of video nasty, my
second-favourite Christmas slasher (number one is of course Christmas
Evil/You Better Watch Out), and an all-around joyfully messed up
bundle of horror as a fun ride. This being a Morgan joint (his long-time partner
James Wong relegated to a producer credit in what is a sign of one of the
saddest divorces I know), the film is packed to the gills with – often
hilariously – macabre detail, a very bloody sense of whimsy, male characters
that are either totally useless or the killer, a love of the grotesque and the
all-around weird jumping – sometimes literally - from every corner, sardonic use
of musical standards, and Kristen Cloke.
It’s not a terribly logical film - but then it really doesn’t attempt or
pretend to be – instead it is a sometimes sleazy, always bloody series of fun
set pieces, paced with panache, crisply photographed in often pleasantly popping
colours. Add to that a very special cookie recipe, an absurd yet awesome killer
backstory told in flashbacks, some interesting thoughts about the proper use of
Christmas trees and their ideal ornamentation, and you’ve got yourself a Santa
Clause sized bag of Christmas fun.
If I’m perfectly honest, I prefer this to the original Black
Christmas by a country mile, but then, there’s not accounting for taste,
particularly not mine.