Monday, December 2, 2013

The Remake Comparison Project - Silent Night, Evil Night

The Remake Comparison Project gets into the holiday spirit as Cody and Priscilla deck the halls with both versions of Black Christmas.


We couldn't have chosen a better pair of movies for this month's Remake Comparison Project. Our December picks had to be about Santa season, and these ones fit the bill perfectly. Though not very jolly or merry, the movies celebrate the holidays in their own black way.

While the girls of the Pi Kappa Sigma have an early Christmas party, having fun together one last time before most of them will be heading home for the holiday break to fulfill plans with family, friends, boyfriends, a heavily-breathing man lurks around outside the sorority house. A man who we never see - we only see through his point-of-view as he wanders around outside, eventually climbing a trellis on the side of the house and gaining access into it through an unlocked attic window...

Soon after the stranger has made his way into the house, the girls receive a very unpleasant phone call. It seems that lately they've been receiving calls from someone they call The Moaner, who mixes strange noises and obscenity with off-the-wall comments and pure insanity. Apparently the caller is "expanding his act", as the calls go on they've been getting even worse and some of the girls seem quite shaken up about it. When one of the girls, a tough-talking, outgoing lush named Barb and played by future Lois Lane Margot Kidder, takes the phone and gives the pervert on the other end of the line some back sass, The Moaner calmly, chillingly says, "I'm going to kill you," and then hangs up.

One of the other girls, Clare Harrison, strongly disagrees with how Barb handled the situation. There seems to be some sort of tension between herself and Barb, other than the obvious clashing personalities. We'll come to find out that Clare is a responsible girl who's in a loving relationship with her hockey player boyfriend Chris, but Barb dismisses her as "a professional virgin". Upset with Barb, believing that The Moaner shouldn't be provoked, especially since a girl in town was raped by an unknown assailant recently, and thus The Moaner could be the man responsible for that crime and a real, physical threat, Clare, who is going home for the holidays, leaves the party to go to her room upstairs and pack her bags. She doesn't get to finish packing. The stranger is hiding in her closet, and when she walks near it, he lunges out and suffocates her with a plastic garment bag.

The next day, only three of the sisters remain in the house; Barb, whose mother has opted to spend the holidays with her boyfriend rather than her daughter; Phyl, who had plans with her boyfriend but they're superseded when Barb asks her to accompany her on a skiing trip; and the one who will be our heroine of sorts, a British girl named Jess. Also in the house is their alcoholic housemother Mrs. Mac, who has liquor stashes all over the house (a bottle inside the toilet tank, another inside a hollowed out Encyclopedia book, "B for Booze", etc.), troublesome housecat Claude, and the stranger hiding in the attic.

We're used to seeing cats in movies do things they normally wouldn't. Especially in horror movies. Since I've had cats pretty much all my life, when I see things like them jumping through windows out of the blue, even windows that are closed, I always think to myself, "There is no way!". So I have to take a moment and talk about the cat in this movie. I feel so bad for Claude. First, he mutates! That's right. When we first see him, in the background when the girls take the first obscene call, it's a different kitty with shorter and darker hair.

The information is out there that Bette Davis and Malcolm McDowell were offered roles, that Edmond O'Brien was originally cast to play police Lieutenant Fuller in the film but had to be replaced due to health issues, but no one talks about the two different feline actors who played Claude.

Not to mention that Claude was supposed to be locked up in Clare's room at the point when we first see him. It's really weird. Speaking of Clare, she seems to be the one who cares for Claude the most, even though he's Mrs. Mac's cat, which makes it even sadder when he's in the attic, on her lap, licking her face, almost as if he wants to save her. It must have been awful for the cute kitty, having Mrs. Mac for an owner. She's annoying and calls him names. No wonder he never showed up when she was looking for him. Poor Claude. Well, at least they didn't kill him off like it usually happens.

The first clue the girls get to the fact that something has gone very wrong is when Mr. Harrison, Clare's father, arrives to take his daughter home and finds that she has vanished. Mrs. Mac tries her best to convince Mr. Harrison that his daughter is fine, but he doesn't buy it and goes to the police station with Mrs. Mac, Barb, and Phyl in tow. They're not taken very seriously there by the dimwitted Sergeant Nash, and it isn't until Jess seeks out Clare's boyfriend Chris and takes him to the police station to demand that something be done about his missing girlfriend, just as a distraught mother from town is also reporting her thirteen-year-old daughter missing, that the police finally get on the case.

The dual disappearances of Clare and the younger girl lead to a search party being assembled to go looking for the girls. While the body of the murdered thirteen-year-old is discovered in the town's snow-blanketed park, the entire time that Mr. Harrison and the authorities are looking for Clare, her body, head still wrapped in plastic, is still in the sorority house, sat in a rocking chair in the attic as the stranger sings lullabies to her.

You can't help but feel awful for Mr. Harrison.

The poor little guy does have a very rough day.

As night falls, the stranger begins adding to his bodycount, knocking off the remaining inhabitants of the sorority house one-by-one, the murders punctuated by phone calls made from the house's upstairs phone line to the downstairs phone line, where Jess answers them and is repeatedly subjected to the insanity of The Moaner - he and the homicidal stranger are indeed the same person.

Played by Olivia Hussey, who took the role at the advisement of a psychic, Jess is sort of our heroine by default. We spend the most time with her, she answers the phone calls, she survives the longest. But we only get broad strokes of who she is as a person. She seems more reserved than the other girls, a typical heroine trait, but not all that much. She clearly cares for her fellow sisters, she makes the move that gets Clare's missing persons case taken more seriously, but the other girls (alongside Mr. Harrison) get that ball rolling, so it's not like they're negligent. Due to her drinking habits, vulgarity, and actions like getting a little kid drunk at a Christmas party, Barb is clearly doomed, but Phyl, as played by SCTV's Andrea Martin (SNL's Gilda Radner had originally been cast in the role), has a heroine personality and attitude herself, she easily could've been the lead if the filmmakers had chosen to go that way.

It's the subplot Jess is given that really causes her to take center stage. Jess is pregnant, and has decided to get an abortion, a decision she has to come to without consulting her boyfriend Peter (Keir Dullea of 2001: A Space Odyssey), an aspiring concert pianist who's eight years into a musical education. She wasn't even going to tell Peter about it, but now chooses to just hours before he has a very important recital. It doesn't go over well. Peter is first happy to hear that Jess is pregnant, then instantly devastated to hear she wants an abortion. He tries to talk her into marrying him and having the baby, but she is resolute in her decision, and doesn't want to marry Peter. She has plans and ambitions that do not include having a child at this point in her life, although we never learn what those plans and ambitions are, just that she wants "to do those things" she's told Peter about before. The news sends Peter on a downward spiral emotionally and mentally; he blows his recital, he gets destructive, he gets spiteful and threatening. Jess is so calm and nearly aloof when dealing with him that she can come off as mean.

Despite the interactions we see between them, we still don't know much about Jess and Peter's relationship. How long they've been together, how serious it was... He clearly took it very seriously, she doesn't seem to so much. At one point, Phyl even comments to Jess that she doesn't like Peter, but we have no idea what Phyl would have against him. We really only learn just enough about them to start suspecting that Peter may be the killer. He becomes so intense, neurotic, and disturbed, it's easy to imagine that he could lash out violently. The suspicion is deepened when The Moaner says something during a phone call that Peter said to Jess in an earlier scene - it's either Peter making the phone call, or the killer was close enough in the house during their conversation to hear what they were saying.

As the phone calls continue, the insane comments made by the killer, lines which he delivers by taking on several different voices, start to mirror the situation Jess and Peter are going through - we can gather through the madness that the killer is relating the story of a mother and father demanding to know what a young boy named Billy did with his baby sister Agnes. Agnes is missing and Billy's parents are holding him responsible...

These clues filtered through madness are the only hints we ever get as to who this stranger in the house is. The killer's identity is never revealed, we only become certain of who the killer isn't. In fact, we never even see the killer's face, he remains in the shadows or largely offscreen throughout, the only bits of him revealed on screen are his hands, feet, shadow, and one crazy eye that the light splashes across in a couple instances. Sometimes he's represented through P.O.V. shots like the one at the beginning of the film. Since this film was made before Steadicams existed, camera operator Bert Dunk achieved these shots through the innovative approach of strapping the camera to his back.

Some of the killer's P.O.V. scenes are very unsettling, like when he's rocking Clare's lifeless body in the chair, making his way in and out of the attic, and having his raging fits.

Clued in to the possible ties between the phone calls being made to the sorority and the rapes, murders, and disappearances in his town, police Lieutenant Fuller (John Saxon, who would go on to play police Lieutenant Thompson in A Nightmare on Elm Street) has the downstairs phone line tapped. As a police officer sits outside the sorority house in a cruiser, Fuller is able to listen in on the calls Jess receives while sitting at his desk at the police department, and at the phone company a technician desperately tries to trace the killer's calls - by following lines through a maze of wires and terminals - before he hangs up and cuts them off.

Eventually, of course, the killer stays on the line long enough for the call to be traced so that everyone can come to the terrifying conclusion that "The calls are coming from inside the house!" It's like the "Have you checked the children?" babysitter urban legend from the 1960s come true. The revelation lacks punch for the audience in this instance, since we've known all along that the killer is right upstairs from where Jess is sitting, but it certainly has an effect on her.

Caring for her sorority sisters, our heroine can't leave the house without letting Phyl and Barb know what's happening, so they can get out of there together. Arming herself with a fireplace poker, she cautiously goes upstairs to check on them... After she finds the bloody corpses of her friends, the killer attacks, kicking off the final chase, which Peter shows up for just in time for...

Written by Roy Moore and directed by Bob Clark, Black Christmas (1974) is the definition of ambiguous. The identity of the killer is left a mystery, his motives unexplained - he's merely a deviant lunatic who has seemingly chosen to torment this sorority and these girls at random. Jess is an ambiguous character, her relationship with Peter isn't explored very deeply.

Despite all the secrecy, murkiness, and loose ends, the film is still very satisfying to watch, as it has a wonderful atmosphere of creeping dread, great cinematography by Reg Morris, and solid performances from the cast.

The writing, directing, and cinematography are all great, as is the score by Carl Zittrer.

Appropriately, given the element of Peter being a piano player, Zittrer provided a piano-based score for the film, achieving an unusual sound by tying utensils and combs to the strings.

The acting is probably the best thing in the movie. There are so many interesting and even funny characters, and the actors are all perfect for their roles. As Jess, the very young looking Olivia Hussey is sweet but can be very cruel at the same time; she has a unique type of beauty and shiny hair that is part of an "ouch" moment toward the end.

I love the house that stands in as the Pi Kappa Sigma sorority house. I'd like to go to Toronto and see it for myself, look around inside it... maybe live in it... Anyway, it makes for a great horror movie setting.

The house isn't too far from other places, isn't secluded or anything, but there's this desolation vibe about it, it's really noticeable.

The feeling of the Christmas season is perfectly captured in the production design and the cold, snowy locations, and effectively mixed with the very dark aspect of the killer in the house and his phone calls.

The insanity and strange vocalizations in the phone calls provide for some of the best, most memorable moments in the film. While listening to the first phone call, the character Clare questions, "Could that be one person?" In the film it is, but the calls are actually a mixture of manipulated recordings performed by actor Nick Mancuso, who appears as the obscured prowler, director Bob Clark, and an unnamed actress.

Black Christmas is a genre classic and, though not quite a slasher in itself, is widely regarded as a granddaddy to the slasher subgenre that would soon after become quite prominent. The film certainly had a direct influence on John Carpenter's Halloween (1978), which can be seen in some of the camera work and the approach to the death scenes.

There aren't a lot of kills, but they're ferocious when they happen.

The most famous and most chilling murder in the film is when the killer brutally stabs Barb to death in her bed with the horn of a glass unicorn decoration. Downstairs, Jess doesn't hear the sounds of this murder because she's standing in the front doorway enjoying the singing of some door-to-door carolers.

There's this look Hussey gives when she's listening to the kids singing that translates Jess's emotions really well... she's been through a lot and is dealing with some complicated things, but right then you see a bit of hope in her, it's almost touching.

Amidst all the darkness and serious situations, the film also has a good sense of humor, as anyone who's familiar with some of Clark's other works might expect. In the exploits of the drunken Mrs. Mac, the often inappropriate Barb, and the inept Nash, we get examples of the same sort of humor that Clark would go on to deliver in films like Porky's and his other, more family friendly Christmas classic, A Christmas Story.

Margot Kidder is great as Barb. Her little turtle tale and the prank she plays on Sergeant Nash, who is really funny himself, are hilarious.

I still don't understand why Mrs. Mac didn't like her night gown that the girls got her for Christmas. She already had a very questionable taste in clothes and make up as it was, even for the '70s.

Black Christmas's snowballing popularity over the years made it a prime candidate to be remade during the early days of the '00s remake craze.


It's Christmas Eve and the girls of the Delta Alpha Kappa sorority are spending one last night together before some of the girls will be heading home for the holiday break.

The first of the girls we're introduced to is Clair, who's struggling to write a Christmas card. She's relying on some red wine for help but it doesn't seem to be working; she's stuck, no further than writing the person's name. Leigh. There's a rustling in her closet, and viewers familiar with the original film begin to think back on the fate of that movie's Clare as this Clair approaches her closet and looks in... to find nothing other than her clothes, some of which are in plastic garment bags. There's no one in there. But when Clair returns to her card, we see that there is indeed an intruder in her room: someone is hiding under her bed. All we make out of them is blonde hair, nothing else. All too fast, the person has Clair's head wrapped in a plastic bag and proceeds to one-up the original film by killing her by brutally jamming her pen into her forehead.

Cut to a mental institution, Clark Sanitarium, where an employee pushes a cart of Christmas goodies through a keypad-locked door and into the high security ward where the criminally insane are locked up in their cells. We quickly begin to question just how secure the area really is, because by accidentally dropping a milk carton in the doorway the employee allows for the door to stay open and for someone who wasn't supposed to be there to enter. This someone? Mr. Claus himself... well, not really. But the guy dressed as Santa - who was supposed to be in the children's ward - notices the name William Edward Lenz stenciled on the door of one of the cells and recognizes it. Billy Lenz, the guy who killed his family on Christmas many years ago? A lot of the general public are convinced that Billy Lenz is dead, but he is in fact alive and well... And every year at Christmas time, he attempts to escape from the mental institution. He wants to be home for Christmas.

It's obvious that Billy is going to escape before long, especially with how dopey and inept the people watching over him seem to be. The way it goes down is silly... Looking into Billy's cell, a security guard sees no sign of the inmate. His toilet has been pulled away from the wall, leaving a gaping hole. The security guard enters the cell to investigate, not bothering to call for backup, not checking the cell thoroughly, just getting on his knees and crawling toward the hole in the wall. But Billy didn't go through the hole in the wall. He's hiding under the bed, and he dispatches the security guard by jamming a candy cane which he has sucked and chewed into a point into the man's neck. It is totally ridiculous. But, that's what goes on... Billy tricks the guard, kills him and is now free. After taking the Santa suit for himself, he strides right out of the mental instituation and heads back to his childhood home... which is now the sorority house.

But if Billy is only now escaping and making his way home, who killed Clair?

Back at the house, housemother Ms. Mac wants the girls to gather up to open their presents, but most of them are not very excited about it. Some are downstairs around the tree, but they all seem to be minding their own business, some are holed up in their rooms upstairs. Nobody even knows if Clair is still there or left earlier, but we know that Clair is in the attic, sat in a rocking chair, the plastic bag still wrapped around her head.

It's been a tradition at Delta Alpha Kappa for fifteen years that there always be a gift left under the tree for Billy Lenz. When the girl who drew Billy's name in the gift exchange, a very wound up girl named Heather, questions the concept of dedicating a gift to a serial killer - another girl, Melissa, quickly corrects her that Billy was a spree killer - a very in-depth telling of Billy's story begins.

This is where the remake really differentiates itself from the first movie. While the '74 film really told us nothing about its killer, this one was made in an era of origin stories and prequels, so it throws ambiguity completely out the window and takes the approach of telling us everything we could possibly want to know about Billy, with flashbacks showing us the major events in his life that led up to him becoming a killer. Even though a plastic bag was only involved in one kill in the original film, this one even gives a deeper meaning to why plastic bags are involved with the murders in it.

As the film shows us, Billy was born in 1970 with a rare liver disease that gave him yellow skin. His father cared for the boy, but his mother hated both of them and was disgusted by Billy because of his birth defect. The first event we see in Billy's life is Christmas 1970, when the yellow-skinned infant was celebrating Baby's First Christmas under the gazes of his loving father and hateful mother.

Jump ahead to Christmas 1975, when five-year-old Billy overhears his father arguing with his mother and her boyfriend, who she lets into the house with the announcement, "He's my family now!" The situation between the three quickly escalates, and Billy ends up witnessing as his father, head wrapped in a plastic bag, is beaten to death by his mother's lover with a hammer...

The next incident we see from Billy's life happened on a night in 1982, by which time Billy had been forced by his mother to live in the house's attic since Christmas '75, when - tired of her lover falling asleep every time they have sex - Billy's mother went up into the attic and raped her twelve-year-old son. Nine months later, she gave birth to a baby girl. A girl she named Agnes. Finally, a child she can be proud of. Hearing Billy thumping around in the attic, his mother looks up at the ceiling and says, coldly, "She's my family now."

Christmas 1991. Sixteen years into his attic imprisonment, Billy finally made his move, escaping somehow and abducting Agnes before making a taunting phone call to his mother: "She's my family now." When his mother and stepfather find them, he has a bag wrapped around Agnes's head and is beating her viciously. He tears out one of her eyeballs... and eats it... He then wreaks brutal vengeance on the people who have made his life a living hell and kept him locked away for so many years. Once his mother is dead, he cuts out pieces of her flesh and bakes it into cookies.

Which has never made any sense to me... You can't make cookies out of flesh. If those things count as cookies, then every piece of meat a person eats is a cookie. Cheeseburgers are cookie burgers!

The police arrived soon after to take Billy into custody. Declared insane, he was sent away to Clark Sanitarium, while the surviving Agnes was put into an orphanage.

And so ends the backstory portion of the film, which plays out over the course of twenty-two minutes of the running time, interspersed with scenes back at the sorority house. It takes two people to tell this entire tale - Ms. Mac starts it off, but doesn't seem to know all the details. The information on the murders is then filled in by another character.

What's funny is that after it's been told, no one reacts accordingly... you'd think that the girls would be perplexed about it, but nope.

Amidst Billy's life story, things have been getting stranger and stranger at the sorority house. A girl named Megan is the second to be killed, and the girls start getting these phone calls that don't make any sense on the house's landline. Someone breathing heavily, doing different voices, the dialogue of different people. References to Christmas - "You want a Christmas cookie?" "You're my cookie and I could gobble you up!" - and Agnes. When tough-talking lush Lauren gives the caller from back sass during the first call, the person warns the girls, "Get out of my house. I'm going to kill you."

The phone calls are not nearly as effective as the calls in Black Christmas '74. All the caller does is mimic voices of people from Billy's life and quote dialogue from the flashbacks. Since we come to exactly what everything they're saying means, there's no creepiness or mystery to it.

The phone call aspect gets a modern update, the "Who's calling us from where?" angle doesn't hold up in the days of caller I.D. and *69, there is no having the police track the calls back to the house. Instead, caller I.D. shows where the calls are coming from - the cell phones of the killer's victims.

Suspicion is directed toward two characters. One is a girl named Eve - bespectacled, blonde, and awkward, she's clearly a bit of an oddball outsider, though she tells the others they're all like her family now. She's Heather's secret Santa, and the gift she gives her? A callback to the '74 movie: a glass unicorn decoration. Because Heather "likes the Bible". Eve also has newspaper clippings about Billy hidden in her room. Could she be a murderous, twenty-two year old Agnes? The audience is left to ponder this... Until we find out that Agnes would only have one eye, then Eve is added to the bodycount.

The other suspicious character is the one who has the information on the '91 murders, a guy named Kyle, who has intimate connections to two of the girls - he's currently dating Kelli, but has a history with Megan, a history that includes making sex tapes that have leaked onto the internet. Kyle tells Kelli "I'm your family now" during a makeout session, he's found in the second victim's room when the others are searching for her, he comes off like a major creep...

It becomes obvious that Kelli is our heroine partly because, like Jess in the original film, she has a subplot going on with a suspicious boyfriend, and also because she's obviously the girl who cares the most about her fellow sisters, while the rest of them seem to have attitude and personality problems of some sort.

Ultimately, Eve and Kyle are just red herrings, because the killer in the house is Agnes, who's is somehow waiting for her father/brother Billy to arrive and cleaning up the place (murdering people) in the meantime. How did Agnes know that this was the year Billy would finally be successful in his escape? Agnes has been missing for years, Billy has been in maximum security lockup, how did they get together to coordinate this scenario and mend their relationship after he beat her up and ate her eyeball? These are the sort of mysteries the remake leaves you pondering.

As if there weren't already enough characters packed into the house and the story, another arrives late in the film, this film's version of Mr. Harrison - Clair's sister Leigh, who has shown up to find out why her sister failed to call her. She tries to bond with the other girls, when in reality she just feels guilty that she hasn't really been able to do that with Clair. But she ends up being the "older sister" figure to a few of them and also ends up being a target, simply for being there.

Every time the characters go looking for their missing sorority sisters or try to leave the place, another one ends up dead, killed off one-by-one by the stranger hiding in their house in brutal, gory ways, eyeballs getting eaten and all.

Eventually their numbers have been whittled down to just Kelli, Leigh and Kyle, who are left to take on the pair of Agnes and Billy, who finally gets back home at the end of the film. For a while there we think for sure that all three of them are going to make it... that doesn't happen. The survivors are taken to the hospital, and so are Agnes and Billy. But it's not over... yet.

This movie's alright. There are way too many girls and sometimes it's easy to get them mixed up, hard to keep track of who's who.

Michelle Trachtenberg's Melissa and Lacey Chabert's Dana seemed particularly interchangeable to me.

Ms. Mac is extremely boring in this one, despite being played by returning cast member Andrea Martin. Lauren is into drinking, like Barb, but she's not entertaining at all.

I kind of liked Lauren and her drunken, vomit-spewing moments.

We don't get to know Clair, she's gone before we know it and that makes it impossible to relate to what her sister Leigh goes through later in the movie when she finds Clair's dead body.

What was supposed to be tension between Lauren and Heather is just silly, and most of the girls sound bitchy all the time. Their acting is okay, I like Katie Cassidy as Kelli and Michelle Trachtenberg as Melissa. I'm disappointed pretty much every time I see Lacey Chabert though, because being a Party of Five fan, I think she just never got as big as she should have... she always seem to play the same role. Rich, spoiled girl with an attitude. I just feel she could've done better with her career.

They tried to create some sort of drama with the Kelli/Kyle/Megan love triangle, but it didn't really work, and Kyle is pretty much irrelevant and invisible. Something else that didn't work was Eve, who was only there so we could suspect that she was Agnes (and for the bodycount), but that wouldn't have made any sense at all. Speaking of Agnes, I don't understand why it's a man playing her and why "she" looks even older than Billy. Also, five-year-old Billy looks like he's at least 10. And I understand how he knew his way around the house so well, but the hospital? How did he know where to find Kelli by crawling around in the ceiling at the end?

The writing and directing are decent, but I feel like the sole purpose of this movie was to tell Billy's story (and make money off of the name, of course) and be done with it, especially since they make sure he's really dead at the end, leaving no room for a sequel. And do they tell his story! They get into it so much that it feels like what's happening at the sorority house in the present day is secondary.

In the special features, writer/director Glen Morgan seems to be totally miserable while making this movie. After his remake of the rat movie Willard didn't do well at the box office, he was very depressed and feared that he'd never get to direct a movie again. He got another chance with this one, but he doesn't like slasher movies, and here he is taking the ideas behind a horror classic and turning it into a run-of-the-mill slasher. He doesn't like jump scares, but he packs them into the movie because Willard was criticized for not having jump scares, mocking the concept as he begrudgingly films them. He doesn't like gore, yet the kills he puts in are very gory and ridiculous.

The kills are over-the-top and very nasty with the eyeball eating.

Billy's story is sad, despicable, appaling, disturbing and gross at the same time, but not really scary. The house looks fine, the Christmas decorations are nice, but they go overboard with the green and red lights, it gets to be too much at times.

I agree about the house, it was so overly decorated, it looks like Christmas puked all over it.

There's no way to compare this one to the original. It's a completely different vibe/feel, with the original being so dark and creepy and this one almost funny occasionally, without meaning to be.

It is an extremely silly and absurd movie, nothing like the tone of the first one at all.

The calls Billy makes in the original are very dreadful, and the ones in the remake are pointless and out of place. There's no real holiday party in the remake and all the girls seem miserable. Aside from Melissa helping Lauren with her drinking aftermath and Kelli's speech about why they can't leave, the girls don't act like "sisters" or even friends like they do in the original.

Also, there's no Claude in the remake!

That is its greatest sin. It's shameful. As far as I'm concerned, Claude was the star of Black Christmas '74.

The original is a cult classic and the remake is something else entirely. All the mystery and questions we're left with after watching the original are not there for the remake; quite the opposite, actually... we almost feel like we were given too much information.

I definitely feel that way. There's way too much backstory in there for my liking.

I truly love the original. It's one of my favorites and is permanently in my "December must watch" list. The remake is not bad, it's good for what it is: a fun, unpretentious Christmas slasher.

Morgan was hoping that the film would rise above the slasher subgenre when he was shooting it, but it didn't. It's firmly snowbound in slasher territory, and it's not a great slasher, either. It's just a tolerable little slashfest that doesn't come anywhere near the film it's a remake of.

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