Saturday, January 24, 2009

Black Christmas (2006)

Reviewed By: Jeremy Melton

I remember once watching an interview with Fiona Apple in which she was lamenting the excessive use of sampling in modern music. She, a successful singer-songwriter, complained that of course these songs that were coming out at the time were hits because they had all been hits before. What she did took more craft than, say, Puff Daddy’s shitty recycle of "The Message" by Grandmaster Flash (Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down).

Seems sound enough.

On the other hand, "Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down" also introduced us to the inane, talentless, rapping of Mase. Mase rapped with all of the flair of a borderline illiterate being handed a copy of a Dr. Seuss book. The young man blabbed on and on about clothing and jewelry like he was angling for a guest spot on "Sex and the City." It was great stuff.

In many ways 2006’s Black Christmas remake is like a P-Diddy Ditty. Sure, it doesn’t have the intelligence, talent, or personality of the original. On the other hand, we get “Christmas cookies”, incest, eyeball eating, and impalement on a Christmas tree.

So, it has its merits.

Okay, right off the bat this movie goes bananas.

In the original, Billy is never really shown. In fact, it is not even clear that Billy is the actual name of the killer. The killer in the 1974 version is thoroughly insane and quite possibly has multiple personalities. In the 2006 version, though, we get Billy full on. And he is yellow.

The movie opens at a mental institution at Christmas. Billy is locked away and the guards have brought him his Christmas cookies. They are made of chicken, because, we will later learn, Billy cut up his family and made Christmas cookies out of their skin that he ate.

I don’t know about you, but I really have to question the treatment poor, mentally ill Billy is being given. He is eating “Christmas cookies” that represent the ones that he made out of the skin of his parents years earlier?? The doctors are okay with this??

Anyway, Billy, as I mentioned before, is yellow. And I mean his skin looks like a banana peel. He, of course, kills a few people and is able to walk out of the institution because he put on a Santa costume. That is correct. A neon yellow Santa Clause is able to walk out of a state run mental health facility without anyone batting an eye.

Then, we are taken to a sorority house (the name of which is said so quickly I have given up on trying to make it out) where Andrea Martin, as Barbara MacHenry, is the house mother. Andrea Martin looks as young and beautiful as she did when she was in the original Black Christmas in 1974. Actually, she looks like a plastic surgery nightmare. Honestly, her skin is pulled so tight in every direction that she makes Joan Rivers look like a natural beauty.

Anyway, the girls are complaining about the house tradition of opening Billy’s present first on Christmas Eve… Yes, this house has a tradition of opening one present for the locked up mental patient that killed his family... I know, it doesn’t make any sense… Andrea Martin explains, though, that this tradition is 50 years old. Then this movie shows a bit of back story showing Billy as an infant in a crib in 1970.

Now, I am no mathematician, but if Billy was a newborn in 1970 and the tradition is that a present is opened for him every Christmas and if the tradition is 50 years old then this movie must be taking place in 2020. Right?

However, there are no flying cars, baggy silver outfits, or any other of the trappings that one might expect from a movie that takes place in the future. No one even mutters the word “clone” throughout the entire film. So, all indications are that this movie takes place in 2006.

Now, let’s take a look at these sorority girls.

Michelle Trachtenburg plays Melissa. This actress is probably best known for playing Dawn Summers on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It is interesting, then, that she spends every scene in this movie playing Sarah Michelle Gellar. Enough said.

Dana is played by Lacy Chabert, who had an incredibly annoying voice as the littlest kid on the short-lived Fox show Party of Five. Also, on that show was Jennifer Love Hewitt. Lacy Chabert has spent her entire career imitating Jennifer Love Hewitt.

So, two of our girls spend this movie playing characters from I Know What You Did Last Summer.

Heather Fitzgerald is played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead who I kind of liked in Grindhouse and Live Free or Die Hard.

Crystal Lowe plays Lauren Hannon. This character seems to be an update of the know-it-all alcoholic named Barbie originally played (with gigantic burly hands) by Margot Kidder. Crystal Lowe has been in some of the greatest movies ever made, from Final Destination 3, to Wrong Turn 2, to 2008’s direct to television sequel to Center Stage. Outside of the direct to television movie, she has managed to get topless in everything that she’s been in. By every indication, we should expect to start seeing this young starlet at horror movie conventions pretty soon and for many years thereafter.

Then, we have Eve, the four-eyed weird one that all of the sorority girls can’t stand. Wait a minute… I thought that sororities were able to choose their members.

There is also some blonde named Kelli. I can’t really say why this one is in the movie at all. Normally, I would write her off as body count. However, she is the “final girl” in this picture. Honestly, she is the blandest character in it and has zero backstory. She doesn’t seem to be friends with the other sorority girls. She is just kind of in the scenes.

Kelli’s boyfriend is also around. He is used a lot as a “red herring”. However, since we know Billy is the killer from the get go, it doesn’t really play.

So, these are basically the characters in this movie. Except for one other…


Agnes is, without a doubt, the dumbest idea ever put to the silver screen.

Agnes is Billy’s sister. And daughter. Yeah, his mother used to sleep with him. In 1991, Billy killed his parents. However, he only forked out Agnes’s eye. And ate it.

Now, don’t feel too sorry for this chubby, little girl. She grew up to be Billy’s killing partner. Grew up, though, is an understatement. Agnes, the adult, is played by Dean Friss. A male. So, Agnes is a hulking, one-eyed, long-haired man-thing. But, there is no gender-bending subplot, or anything. This big man, who looks like a big man, is playing a woman. In the words of Jon Lovitz, “Acting!”.

So, Agnes loves her dad/bro and helps him kill (eating a few eyes along the way) because, in their family, that is how you showed love.

Good God, this is stupid.

But, it is the kind of stupid that I love. This is the kind of stupid that cannot be found anywhere else.

So, the Black Christmas of 2006 is not so much a remake as a regurgitation. But, what the hell, unless your last name is Van Zant, you don’t remake movies shot for shot. You put your own stamp on it.

And Director Glen Morgan stamped all over the original.



  1. Oh my, you feel the same way about Black X-Mas as I do!

  2. "Regurgitation" is kind of the perfect description for this film! It very much feels like someone stuffed their faces with the original then went on a bender with Margot Kidder, drank a whole lot of eggnog, threw in a few bags of Cheetos, barfed it all up, then scraped the leftovers into a video camera and processed the film. Impressive, really.

  3. No idea that they remade Black Christmas. But if it is stupid enough that it is good, I may add it to my llst of stupid movies to watch.