Bloody Christmas, this time for real with a selection of three rather devious slashers which will sure freeze your blood or bore you to death, depending on your preferences.
Black Christmas (1974)
(USA 1974, director: Bob Clark)
In a sorority house, obscene phone calls lead to mysterious killings.
Being one of the first slasher movies (even before Carpenter’s Halloween), it has a certain prestige and nostalgic factor to it. But like most older movies of the horror genre, it can feel terribly outdated, and that’s exactly what it is.
Something most slasher movies suffer today (the 30 minutes boring introduction of characters) makes up most of the movie. Maybe it was outstanding acting in the old days, but it’s just terrible overacting today. So what about the kills? Nothing to write home about there as it takes ages to finally see one and when it does take place, it’s not very original or shocking in the least.
Suspense? If you like creepingly slow pacing and some sick and weird-sounding voice on the phone in a dark house, probably it’s there, yes. Also some nice Christmas atmosphere.
Humor? The only thing which saves this movie from lower than mediocrity. Classic horror fans might rate this higher than today’s entries in the genre and praise it for whatever, but if you want to see a timeless “classic”, go see Carpenter (which has aged as well, but isn’t such a borefest).
Black Christmas (2006)
(USA/Canada 2006, director: Glen Morgan)
After killing and baking/eating his parents at Christmas, a psychopath breaks out of an institution and goes back to his home…to kill again, this time some teens at a sorority house.
Every time the same thing: remakes trying something new, people complain, remakes trying to be true to the original, people complain. Now with a more-than-20-year-old movie, classics lovers are sure to raise their voices no matter what. That’s cineasts (or just nostalgics) for you.
The remake does many things right: a better Christmas atmosphere, much more original and downright vicious kills and some fast pacing and memorable, even creepy scenes. Compared to the original it also tells a straightforward story. Sure something of the mystery is gone, and the voice on the phone isn’t there (oh, beware, critics, it’s CHANGED). But I’d much rather have an engaging background story than 90 minutes of boredom.
The only thing the movie suffers like so many of its genre friends, are the characters. There isn’t any one could feel sympathy for as one is more annoying (read: bitchy) than the other. Still maybe that’s exactly why the slasher works so well: it’s quite gratifying to see the killer pick one after the other and get rid of them in the most brutal and disgusting way possible. PC aside.
(USA 2007, director: Franck Khalfoun)
Alone on Christmas Eve, a woman is taken prisoner in a parking lot and has to survive the advances of her psychopathic stalker.
There’s something about the familiarity in slasher movies which makes cineasts and movie critics roll their eyes: a killer who hunts big-breasted victims, and that’s mainly it. Usually the victims do pretty stupid things, and the killer does the same, only he’s less stupid as he still has to get rid of more victims. Of course there’s the survivor girl who kills him at the end.
P2 doesn’t try to do anything original, but at least it makes the best use of the setting. It’s quite fascinating how in a runtime of over 90 minutes, there isn’t any boredom setting in, or superfluous flashback or outside scenes. It’s only one vs. one, no annoying character introduction, a true slasher stripped from the boring parts.
Of course there are still some silly actions and there aren’t that many memorable scenes, but at least the killer is quite scary and the violence not to be taken lightly. Might have to do with Alexandre Aja’s involvement who did many remakes with no real story or character development (except maybe for Mirrors).