…and All I Received was this Michelle Trachtenberg Flick (Black X-Mas (2006))

Christmas came, I saw, I received awesome movies (copies of Kuroneko and the Phantom Carriage), and so, in honor of these fantastic gifts I bring this for you, a Black Christmas review. This is another remake in a long line of rehashes, much in the same vein as My Bloody Valentine. (Thankfully this one isn’t in 3-D.) With a story based around a holiday that the killer is connected to, and openings that acknowledge the original while still trying to pass off its reheated viscera as fresh meat.

When Billy, the Christmas Cannibal Killer’s past is shown, and you’re never sure if the film is restating what happened in the original 1974 Black Christmas, or just recycling that movie’s backstory too.

I’ve watched a lot of these remakes now, and I’m still slightly shocked at how unspectacular they are. Think about it. We all knew that the godfather of poorly planned reduxes, Gus Van Sant’s Psycho, was going to fail. Hitchcock’s Psycho is a classic, so there’s really nothing to improve upon. There’s no where to go but down.

A film like Black Christmas, however, is rife with possibilities. No one remembers the 1974 original besides editors of horror magazines and the immediate families of its “stars.” Leaving plenty of room to make this a masterpiece. Take the plot points you want, jettison the rest. No one will know, or care! It’s creative freedom writ large.

So how these remakes end up so bland and banal is beyond me.

William Castle would’ve had men wearing Santa suits and waving hatchets invade the theater during the film’s third act. Director Glen Morgan instead opts for a killer who makes a shiv out of a candy cane. Not very awe-inspiring.

(Though the porn one of the sorority sisters is caught watching on Christmas night does remind me of Richard Kern’s classic You Killed Me First. And I’ll take any reason to throw the Hardcore Collection back on is greatly appreciated.)

Up to, and including, gratuitous fake head shots.

This sorority (Delta Alpha Kappa) is total Hollywood cheese, in the insufferable way. There’s the obligatory geek that would never be allowed through make it through the front door of a real sorority. A drunk, an overly loud, and smug, historian, and a goth girl who can’t quite make the commitment to go all the way. I.e. she dyes her hair black and tries to sound unenthused. She’d clearly be the “lovable outsider” in the group if the geek hadn’t already cornered that position.

This is not to say that sororities don’t have smart sisters. Just that any sisters they did have wouldn’t be so socially awkward that they’d bring a crystal unicorn to a Secret Santa party.

The film plays out like CLUE as directed by Urban Legends’ Jamie Blanks. It even stars a Jared Leto lookalike! Tons of close-ups of faces, with enough mid-shots thrown in so that we don’t start thinking this is a Leone film. As with most modern mainstream horror really. The killer picks off each girl from within the house, all while new characters keep showing up to look suspicious.

The lecherous, plebeian boyfriend shows up; getting caught climbing through another girl’s window. A lady claiming to be one of the girl’s older, adopted sister shows up to sow more confusion. She’s a legacy, with a tenure defined by her pledging late and leaving early. Naturally, in true CLUE style, they’re all red herrings, since actually building a mystery involves more work than this cash grab could ever be hoped to do.

Plus, the murderous man has a (presumably rare) skin condition that has made his skin yellow. Fluorescent yellow. Like Sin City’s Yellow Bastard yellow. Which would be kind of difficult to explain away to the rest of the campus.

Black Christmas also has the prerequisite “fake” ending, where the killer dies, only to return a few days later to die again. Cats have nine lives, psychopaths two apparently. Either that or the filmmakers either a.) ran out of film, or b.) tired of documenting every pathetic failure.

Unfortunately, us at home aren’t quite so lucky, as the DVD provides three alternate endings in case you’re really that bored…

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One Response to “…and All I Received was this Michelle Trachtenberg Flick (Black X-Mas (2006))”

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