Like every red-blooded human being, I am susceptible to the charms of a movie that many would could consider “bad”, “insufferable”, or “complete shit”. There are a select few films in my physical collection that fit this bill. While they may have their fans and somewhat loyal vocal supporters, they are generally considered failures on all fronts – storytelling, characters, etc. No movie is more emblematic of that notion as is the first remake of the ’74 classic, Black Christmas (2006). Also known as Black X-Mas (love it), this was a Dimension-backed redux during the heyday of the aught’s remake train that barreled through the early 2000s. It released on Christmas Day 2006 to emphatically negative reviews from critics and the 15 people who actually caught this flick in theaters. As quick as it came out, it just as swiftly left the consciouness of the horror public at large. However, as most movies of this ilk begin to experience later in life, a re-appraisal of sorts started to label this flick a trash-terpiece. A gory, incest-laden, high body count flick with a large assortment of well-known actresses bringing their bitchy A-game and delivering on all fronts. I am one of these unfortunate souls. I adore this dumb movie.
Black X-Mas, as stated earlier, is a remake of the classic 1974 progressive horror flick directed by Bob Clark (he of A Christmas Story fame). The original is perfection encased in celluoid, a exteremely effective horror masterpiece, complete with truly un-nerving telephone calls from mutiple personality killer Billy + a incredibly progressive female lead in the form Jess, played with gusto and assurance by Olivia Hussey. The central conflict for Jess – centering around her desire to have an abortion on the pregnancy she has with douchy whiny music major Peter – was quite revolutionary for a movie released in 1974, which was around the passing of Roe v. Wade in the Supreme Court (which has since been reversed – SHAME ON YOU Supreme Court). Black Christmas 2006 has no such aspirations of progressiveness, spine-tingling horror or real coherence. A victim of an intense amount of studio intereference from resident sleazebags otherwise known as the Weinsteins, the movie we got in the end is a hodge-podge of gore, constant shifts between modern day and the most depressing and incest-filled flashbacks you will ever see, sorority girls who really don’t seem to like each other in the slightest, and killers with what appears to be a the most serious case of yellow skin this side of Yellow Rat Bastard from Sin City.
I am not here to trash Black Christmas 2006. I am here to explain why I find some joy in its disastrous walls. It all starts with this cast. Katie Cassidy, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Lacey Chabert (in her pre-Hallmark phase), Michelle Trachtenberg, Crystal Lowe, Kristen Cloke (“Love the coat”) and returning Black Christmas ’74 actress Andrea Martin are all CLEARLY having a ball here, with Chabert, Trachtenberg and Lowe really enjoying the level of cattiness that is on display. Their energy and commitment really keep the movie chugging along. An aspect of this movie that was frowned upon was the unneeded fleshing out of the backstory of killer Billy, who was merely just a voice in the OG ’74 version. The ’06 take thinks we need all the details, so we get copious flashbacks to a horrible childhoold, complete with father killing, mother fucking, a deformed sister/daughter, all culmunating in some good old fashioned back cookies (if you know, you know). Look, it isn’t great, but the amount of pure sleaze with a capital S on display is admirable for a studio picture, and while I know in my heart it’s essentially shit, I love the swings it takes. The gore in this film really does go to the max, in the flashbacks and modern day. Heads split open by ice skates, icicles to the head, and so many eye gouges and removals that you think there was a run on them for donation at the local hospital. Finally, I adore the production design on this movie. The intense amount of snow, excessive amounts of christmas lights and decorations laden around the house, the nighttime setting and the visual panache on display really imbue the film with the feelings of the season. Many films really don’t go as hard as this flick does in decorating the enviroment and feel like the screen is just puking up Christmas, but if there is one thing Black Christmas 2006 does right, it’s this.
I understand if you have seen this movie and straight up hate it. Black Christmas 1974 is a fucking masterpiece and this ’06 remake pales in all facets when compared to that filmic perfection. However, if you can just enjoy it, not as remake of Black Christmas, but as a pure gaudy, trashy and fully out of control slasher pic, then maybe you too can get some love out of what director Glen Morgan was bringing to the table. I am sure this is not ultimately what his vision was to be – especially with all the meddlings behind the scenes from the studio (copious re-shoots, a trailer that literally had actors/scenes NOT in the movie, demanding added gore etc. – definitely look it up), but in my eyes, he delivered a disasterpiece unlike no other. I love Black Christmas ’06, and I am not afraid to say it.