Sunday, December 11, 2016

1PanelReview Black X-Mas (2006)

It's December 11.! Like last year, it's the perfect time to start this year's Xmas-A-Thon!

So let's start this year with one of the worst recent remakes I had the displeasure to watch!

Friday the 13th series - Friday the 13th (2009)
Friday the 13th (NES) 
Book One (Wildstorm) - Book TwoFriday the 13th (Avatar Press)
Jason vs Leatherface / Freddy vs Jason
Elm Street series - A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
A Nightmare on Elm Street (NES)
A Nightmare on Elm Street (WildStorm)A Nightmare on Elm Street (Avatar Press)
Halloween series - Halloween (2007) - HII (2009)
Halloween (Chaos! Comics)
One Good Scare - NightDance - 30 Years of TerrorThe First Death of Laurie Strode
Hellraiser 1
Final Exam
Black Christmas / Christmas Evil
Silent Night, Deadly Night series - Part 1 &2 - Silent Night (2012)
Santa's Slay
Jack Frost (1997)/Jack Frost (1998)
Pumpkinhead 1
Chucky series - Curse of Chucky / Chucky (Devil's Due Publishing)
Leprechaun seriesLeprechaun: Origins / Candyman series
 Re-Animator series
Hatchet 1Hatchet 2Hatchet 3
Hack/Slash: My First Maniac - Me Without You - Omnibus Vol. 1 - Friday the 31st
Series 1 (DDP)Hack/Slash Meets Zombies Vs CheerleadersHack/Slash/Nailbiter
Series 2 (Image)Son Of Samhain
Transylvania 6-5000/Transylvania Twist
Tucker & Dale / Cabin in the Woods
The Final GirlsJohn Dies at the EndKnights of Badassdom
Darkman seriesDarkman (NES)

What it is: Black Christmas (2006), alternatively known as Black X-Mas

Which is: A slasher/horror reboot
Directed by: Glen Morgan
Year: December 25, 2006

Yikes! How much I always apprehend horror remakes...

Directed and written by TV director Glen Morgan. This is a remake of the Bob Clark classic Black Christmas from 1974. Which is not just any other horror movie remake, this means revamping one of the original first slasher films that inspired the whole genre!

And what an odd remake it is. While it sticks pretty close to the original, following the same overall structure and beats, it comes off as such a different film in tone. The story is again set in a sorority house. As the girls were about to leave the house for the holidays, a mysterious killer named Billy stalks them and murders them one by one... 
What's Good about it: Black "X-Mas" is a slasher film set against the Holidays. A time of the year that is not that much used in the horror genre, but which often results in some pretty fun murderous flicks (such as the original Black Christmas, Christmas Evil, Silent Night, Deadly Night, Santa's Slay or Jack Frost, to name a few).
The original pitch is kept pretty much intact, it was such an original idea at the time and even though it has been kind of overused over the last decades, it still works. The tension feels great as these sorority sisters get stalked and killed one by one during a snow storm.
If I can mention any other positives, the film is mostly well short, for the most part. It's a competent film if anything.
And the best part about the entire film is without a doubt its really inspired casting, they sort of lucked on that part despite the story-issues and the final product. One of the original girls from the 1974 film, Andrea Martin, is now cast as the house mother. That's a great nod. And all I can say is that the cast is great, including some familiar recent scream queens such as Katie Cassidy (Black Canary on Arrow!), Michelle Trachtenberg, Oliver Hudson, the always gorgeous Lacey Chabert, Kristen Cloke and my favorite, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who's perhaps the only one trying to save the film and doing a great job as a secondary character.

What's Bad about it: Perhaps everything else, and I'm kind of sad to admit this.
The film sounded great on paper. It looked great on a first distant look. But it loses any good will as the story progresses.
It's kind of sad to see they completely dropped any good and better ideas about the original in favor of the usual shortcomings of recent horror popcorn films. They abandoned the first person perspective of Billy, aside from butchering the brilliant iconic eye shot from the classic movie scene, and opted on showing us the killer. In fact they showed way too much of him and completely changed the character in favor of a Sin City's Yellow Bastard-inspired bad guy with a bright yellow glowing skin disease, for some reason!!!
The film also tries way too hard to be shocking and brutal. While the original was a simple dark moody horror film, here it's just shock like all bad horror films these days. Jump scares, unnecessary explanations and backstory, gory and disgusting for the sake of shock value, and a completely unnecessary twist ending you see coming from miles!
And SPOILER ALERT, the twist is that "Agnes" exists now, and it's a full fledged character of her own. And it's Billy's sort of sister/daughter (also, yikes! unnecessary incest, thanks movie!). So there's not only Billy killing people this time, but there's two killers!
They really dumbed down the fantastic premise of the original, which stood next Tobe Hooper's Texas Chain Saw Massacre and John Carpenter's Halloween as one of the original first slasher films!
And my main problem with the film: this remake comes about 3 decades too late since the original contributed to creating the slasher genre. Since then there's been various copycats and emulators over the years, until they finally remade Black Christmas in a world were all these elements of these films are now staples of the slasher genre. In a way they sort of condensed everything wrong with the genre into a single film. It's a really dumb film. With awful plot. The film takes itself way too seriously for having such a dumb backstory. It's just gore for the sake of being gore while the original was more of a psychological thriller. And with all the violence of the killings it doesn't even try being clever about it or well presented.
In the 1974 original we never got to properly see the killer, we never truly knew who he was, and that's what made him really scary. Here they gave him this whole complex backstory origin. With dumb plot twists. And we even have two killers for no reason!

Overall: Black X-Mas, as I will call it to not confound it with the original, is a really bad cheesy modern horror film.

The problem is that the remake came after an entire genre that was spawned of the original, which was followed by countless slasher flicks filled with gore and over-the-top kills. So instead of the original game changer, we ended up with a new version of the film kind of crammed with all the tropes the genre is defined with now. The story more or less follows the original, it's still set in a sorority house, but it made some very questionable changes. Where the 1974 film choose to never show us the killer we never truly understood, the 2006 film had to have the obligatory origin story for the killer to "flesh out the character"... 

Simply said, it does not compare to the original, but even on its own it's a pretty standard generic horror film and generic atmosphere and music.

How can this recent remake look so dated already compared to the original that still stands the test of time...?! And worst of all, they wasted this great cast of talented actresses...

It feels like an uninspired remake, losing any originality and credibility with an unimaginative story trying remix and expand upon elements of the original classic while losing sight of what made the original so great in the first place.

Watch the original if you actually want to see a good movie and where the slasher genre originally came from. Avoid this remake at all cost!

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