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Black Christmas (A Movie Review)

Updated: Mar 30, 2023

Black Christmas

Black Christmas


Starring Katie Cassidy, Michelle Trachtenberg, Crystal Lowe, Andrea Martin, Kristen Cloke, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Oliver Hudson, Lacey Chabert, Kathleen Kole, Jessica Harmon, Leela Savasta and Clark Gregg.

Screenplay by Glen Morgan.

Directed by Glen Morgan.

Distributed by Dimension Films.  84 minutes.  Rated R.

There are very few movies in the world that I can think of that are less worthy of a remake than Black Christmas, a cheesy mid-70s potboiler and one of the earliest slasher films.  It was written and directed by a young hack named Bob Clark, who would go on to create some truly awful films over the years (including Porky’s, Rhinestone, Baby Geniuses, Loose Cannons and Popcorn) and somehow lucked into making one true all-time classic (A Christmas Story).

It was a simple story.  A psychopath is stalking a snowbound sorority house full of 70s hotties who looked at least a decade too old to be in college – including Margot Kidder, Olivia Hussey, and… oddly enough… a pre-SCTV Andrea Martin.

Where the movie really got weird was the villain, though.  We didn’t really see much of him, but we heard him throughout and he was beyond over the top.  He was mad in a campy, pre-politically correct way.  He was a gimp; a loony who cackled, panted and cursed profusely – using the one word that women hate most (yes, the c-word…) repeatedly in constant, nearly Tourrette’s-like bursts.  He used the trappings of the season – icicles, Christmas ornaments, glass unicorns and… ummm… garbage bags as weapons.

Okay, yes, there was a certain amount of irony mixing the holiday season with violent death.  However, it wasn’t an overly original idea even back then.  In fact, Black Christmas was just one of two dueling Christmas slasher movies released in 1974.  (The other one was Silent Night, Bloody Night.)

In this version of the movie, at least, most of the hot sorority girls really do appear to be in their early twenties – including Michelle Trachtenberg (Eurotrip, Harriet the Spy), Lacey Chabert (Party of Five) and Katie Cassidy (daughter of 70s teen heartthrob David).

And… oddly enough, again… Andrea Martin is in this one, too – though thankfully this time around she plays the house mother and not one of the sorority sisters.  Congrats, Andrea, you are the only actor in the world who has been in both Black Christmas movies.  That will look good on your résumé.

They call this a modernization of original, but other than the fact that they give much more back-story on the maniac and he now has a crazed sister, it doesn’t seem all that different.  Actually, the original was more daring for leaving the identity of the killer much more up in the air.  The movie does ramp up the violence exponentially – in fact, once the killing gets into gear it comes at a dizzying pace – but it is too wimpy to totally give in to the gonzo campiness of the original film (and the killer never once uses any politically incorrect curse words.).

Like the original – and way too many of these films – the girls of the sorority are spectacularly dumb.  They go alone into the dark rooms with weird sounds emanating from them.  They check under the porch and in the dark attic.  They keep looking around the house when they should get their asses out of there.  Not to be mean, but they might just be so stupid that they deserve to die.  (12/06)

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2009 All rights reserved. Posted: May 14, 2009.

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