Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Black Christmas

Bob Clark
Black Christmas
If you've been watching Lost Room (which I highly recommend, by the way -- and not just because the leads are hot, but... you know... they are), you've probably seen commercials for a "new" movie entitled Black Christmas.

This is not a new movie, as some of my long-time readers and friends know well; this is actually a remake of one of my very favorite movies, originally directed by a true film auteur, Bob Clark -- the same guy who gave us the Christmas classic, A Christmas Story, which TBS shows for 24 hours every year. He also gave us Porky's. (Just a little Bob Clark trivia, there.)

He really had range and his talent is evident by the success of those three, classic films, alone, though Clark's other flicks are cult classics in some circles, as well.  Such as Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things (which is often noted by a lot of B-rater "experts," but is totally passable -- I'm a real B-rater "expert," myself, and you can easily skip Dead Things and still have a good history of the field/genre -- replace it with Basketcase, if you must).  And a host of others you've never heard of, and are honestly no worse-off for that.

The original Black Christmas is noteworthy for all sorts of reasons, aside from being just one really kick-ass flick, including Margot Kidder (Lois Lane) as a lush in a nightgown; Olivia Hussey... like... well, she's just a hottie; the phonecalls (which predate another favorite, Scream -- not to mention a literal host of other films in which similar phonecalls played the same role); and the Number One reason(s): Black Christmas originated the "killer POV" camera style (arguably), as well as the whole "horrific holiday" theme.

An Aside: As a huge B-rater horror fan, I've seen more forgettable movies than most people realize exist, and it's kind of telling how many of my favorites center around this holiday theme: Black Christmas; Silent Night, Deadly Night; April Fool's Day; My Bloody Valentine...  There was a slew of them in the early '80s, and they are all slasher flicks, but they're all really good.

This particular style of cinematography became very, very popular very, very quickly, once John Carpenter used it in the runaway hit, Halloween. It later appeared in Friday the 13th, the spoof, Saturday the 14th, and many more (albeit totally forgettable) movies.  It became a staple of the Slasher sub-genre.

Interestingly (perhaps not so much so, when you consider the fact that entertainment is America's greatest export and has been for years and years -- not a widely-known fact, I'm constantly reminded), Carpenter and Halloween are credited with these inventions even though Clark's Black Christmas predates it.  (The latter may only have been distributed throughout Canada on first release, although this is also arguable, since Black Christmas was also released under another title in the US, which was also the title of another US slasher flick released in the 1980s.)  Technically speaking, Black Christmas was one of, if not the, first slasher flicks and its "tricks" and approach were copied by almost every one that followed.

I don't know how well the (2006) remake will stand-up to the original, but I wouldn't expect too much.

One more Bob Clark-er:

Watch the pictures on the walls to see a cameo of the director. Usually, he is rather stern-looking at first, then smiling after the humorous climax of the scene (used in Porky's and one of his really early films whose title I can't recall -- the one with the cannibals in the diner [which was really bad but I watched it like four times in a row the first time I saw it and, to this day, I do not know why...  That may have been why, come to think of it: I couldn't figure out why I watched it more than once to begin with, so I watched it again to try and figure it out]).

UPDATED Jan., 2020

© 2006, 2020 C Harris Lynn

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