We are so close to that time of year. Trees are being thrown away and replaced by new ones because the older ones died a week ago and the kids want a tree that isn’t so sad. And the parents want one that won’t explode into fire and flames due to the nearing proximity of the crackling heat of neon lightsabers.
Over Christmas I (Thomas) will be spending some time to visit Beau and also have the opportunity (we hope) to watch two movies while they are still in theaters. The first being the new remake of Black Christmas and the second being the final movie in the latest Star Wars trilogy. For the first, the holiday trailers have me hyped to see some ladies kick fraternity cult ass to save the day and stop the murders.
For the second, I am hopeful for as good a movie as The Last Jedi, but am a little worried that it may work to erase what has been set up so far. I am not so invested that it will ruin the movie I enjoyed, but I want better than worse if you know what I mean? It will be a big budget pretty movie with fight set pieces and one on one battles with psychic space wizard swords.
This sounds like a holiday setup that would guarantee something good comes my way, and it is. As long as the ships and fights are pretty Star Wars will succeed enough for me. But, there is a little more that I want from Black Christmas…
As a heads up, this entire post is full of spoilers for Black Christmas. So, go ahead but this was the warning.
The original Black Christmas
At the time of writing this article, I have questions. Deep questions that poke and prod at the side of my brain, like, “I know Peter isn’t the killer but he fucking is though?” The reason for these questions and others like it are because me and Beau watched 1974’s “Black Christmas” for the first time tonight.
After having difficulties setting up our computers so that we could even watch the movie with audio that was synced with the video (remember rabb.it? Turns out it is hard to find a replacement that works with anything other than YouTube). We found that Black Christmas, which is described as a horror movie classic is in fact a well-made movie (with some warnings needed before proceeding), but it was well shot and well-acted. The various leading actors (the sorority girls) all feel like they are distinct individuals that are each their own person.
Each and every one of them has their own individual motivations for how they act and react to what is going on around them. The short summary is that the sorority house has been receiving some very nasty and explicit stalker phone calls and then suddenly murders start to occur in the house. As far as the police and even the surviving gals in the movie are concerned though, people are missing or running away. When in fact they are being murdered and dragged into the attic. The movie leads the viewer to believe that one of the sister’s boyfriends (some dirt bag named Peter who is given a sweater he doesn’t deserve to wear). But men throughout the movie either don’t listen or are slow to respond, but not everyone.
In the movie there is a detective with stunning eyebrows who is doing what they can to get to the bottom of the situation. It is important to know that this detectives actions are guided by hearing about disappearances and one murder in the park, and even thinking that the murderer could be inside the house is a pretty large leap of logic. With all of this, the movies end message is that no one will ever be safe. Those around you hurt you and even strangers will. The murderer could be anyone and even if they’re dead there will always be another.
With that out of the way, here are the detailed warnings…
Throughout the entire movie there are phone calls that are listened in on where the murderer on the other end screams and cackles while speaking explicitly derogatory language towards whoever listens. This murderer kills each girl, but never sexually assaults any of them, and hides out in the attic as they pick one off at the time and drag the victims up to where they can be arranged (not all, just a few).
One of the main girls in the movie (Barb) after hearing one of these explicit phone calls makes a gross comment about how it’s not a hard R word to sexually assault certain types of people. This same character at a later moment is slurring words and drunkenly describing animal sex at a zoo in an emotional breakdown. This isn’t the only character that is constantly drinking thought. The house mother is half putting lipstick on and sneaking hard liquor around the house constantly as she keeps bottles stored and hidden everywhere. Alcoholics are abound in this movie.
Jess’s boyfriend, named Peter, who tries to manipulate and control her and make the choice for her on whether or not to keep her baby using threats of violence and verbal abuse. Peter eventually dies, but then with the way that the movie ends we are left with the fact that the killer is still alive. And although we were led along the entire way to think that it was Peter, the credits roll as the phone still rings. The core message of the movie driven home. Be afraid.
What of the person who is the actual killer that calls and stalks through the phone while sneakily living in the attic without anyone being aware? The movie makes it seem like the intent or reason for the character’s behavior is either due to a long since passed trauma being brought back up or a mental disability. This is done through the explicit phone calls by using multiple voices over the phone, taking on the voices of different characters to replay a scenario (including screams) of childhood murder. And we never learn of who the character is beyond what they say and the way they speak. The reason for not explaining who the killer was up to the director Bob Clark who wanted to leave people the space to go to their own conclusions.
That is the warnings for the original Black Christmas! I am only describing them in this level of depth because I think that with the remake coming out it is important to know what the original movie had for potentially troubling content. Even with the content that I described, when it comes to horror movies this would be considered less severe and in a lower amount (this isn’t to say that these aren’t troubling on their own, just that it normally is so much worse for horror as a genre). Even the amount of words that I am using to describe these is more than most would mention in a review.
This is not a review. This is a recommendation! If you can’t watch it due to the warnings that I have described there is nothing wrong with that. If you can though, I do think it is a well-made movie that did something different for its time, it’s messaging may be one that has been retread over so much that the grass has become pavement, but it did what it did do well. If nothing else the 70s outfits are great and deserve recognition alone for their style and flair (as in flare jeans).
It’s a good slasher movie that doesn’t go as hard or offensive as most. There are specific points that can be deal breakers, but for me I was able to go through it and feel like I understand why the movie is considered a classic of the horror genre by nerds for horror movies.
What do I want from Black Christmas
The original Black Christmas is good. The overall direction that was being gone for was that you (especially sorority girls) are not safe anywhere, not even inside your homes. And even further that you are not only in danger from those that are close to you but casual random people that climb your lattice work. A fact presented in the movie used to chill and scare.
It works for that movie to some success, the direction being gone for was clear. Then me and Beau had a chat after watching though about what we’d change and one of them is to have Peter be somehow connected to the actual murderer because it’d track better and provide a more satisfying ending that could be pondered about. It would not modify the message of the movie, but it could leave more questions at the end of the movie. It would push the point further that not only are the agents of fear alone in their actions, but they at times conspire.
The ending we have is consistent with what is good. And it was good then. It is still a good movie now, it just would have been interesting to see what this type of change would have on the movie.
Other lines have less of an effect now as they did before, just as I am certain lines from western movies had more impact when western movies were young or a trope originated. This is an effect of time that I can’t hold against the movie, but that shouldn’t be ignored as something that is in the brain of modern audiences.
They even said that “the call was coming from inside the house” in this movie. Time has not helped this line gain more strength due to overuse. And it would be wrong to assume that it would land with the same effect, or at least to assume it would land with the same effect with as wide an audience.
Which is why I am excited for the new Black Christmas and my excitement is met with a trailer that looks pretty darn great (the 2019 one, not the 2006 remake which sounded like it was pretty bad based on online writings about it). If you haven’t watched the trailer just yet, then take a moment to watch it.
The girls fight back and it looks like it will be just as strange if not stranger than the original. The conspiracy subtext angle is the angle this time. And at the end where the girls are prepared to slay together? I’m excited to see how the movie gets to that point and what comes after. It reminds me a bit of the fighting back in Ready or Not but this is going to have a frat cult involved?
Sign me up! I love cults and I love this new strain of horror movies where there is more chaos and action being injected into them. If this remake was just going to do the same movie over again without any updating, I think it would not do well. But this furthering and doubling down on messaging but followed by “what’s next” makes me giddy.
I really cannot wait to see this one in theaters and hope that it will be just as fun as “Ready or Not” was. If it can nail the cults and it can be weird then this movie is going to be something that I will enjoy and likely want to watch again and again.
More Jedi, following The Last Jedi
This is a long post. Really it is. As I type these words out here, the new Star Wars movie is premiering and I am watching “Deep Blue Sea” for the first time.
At this point I am sure many people have watched the new Star Wars movies trailer, if not here is a link to one on YouTube.
I know that it would appear like I would want more from Star Wars then I would from the new Black Christmas, but I don’t. I expect Star Wars to be big and pretty with great environments and bombastic fight sequences. I expect a silent moment with only abandoned death star ruins ambience sounds.
But there are a few things that I do want to see:
Don’t erase the message of The Last Jedi. I thought it was a good movie and it was one of the recent movies that I enjoyed the most (enough to watch multiple times after buying it digitally). It was also the first Star Wars movie from the new Disney set that made me want to rewatch the older movies. It hooked up on the nostalgia of watching the original trilogy on VHS every time I would visit my grandmother’s house. The reason I liked Star Wars is it felt like anyone could be one with the force, and the ending of The Last Jedi brought that back to the front for me. This directly leads to my next point.
Don’t tell me that Rey’s parents are special and magical. I really do not want Rey to be some long lost relation of a Jedi bloodline. I am tired of the bloodline B.S. and if they have it occur it puts to rest a message that felt empowering to me. That anyone can be the hero, the chosen one is whoever choses themselves.
That is pretty much it. Again, even with these two points I am not so diehard of a fan that them being done differently or being done at all will make me sign off. The Last Jedi cannot be ruined for me by a sequel, I can just be let down with the change in direction. But, even then, I likely will still enjoy the new Star Wars. Its laser wizard space rumble after all.
I will just enjoy it in a different way. An aesthetic appreciation rather than a love for the doubling down on the points that anyone can be the Jedi hero. The love for the continuation and strengthening of the core feel that everyone can be powerful in this power fantasy.
Now to wait to see these.
That is the summary of what I am looking forward too! I am definitely more of a horror movie person, so my Star Wars excitement is a bit lower than others probably. But I was still a kid who loved the Star Wars and since I have seen the other two in this trilogy so far in theaters I am definitely going to see the last one as well. I hope everyone else is just as excited as I am for both! Even if it is for different reasons, let’s agree to give it the fairest shake and have a good time at the theaters.
I will be sure to let you know what I think of these two once I have seen them. As well as I expect Beau will have words to say about either or both once they see then as well.