BLACK CHRISTMAS **** USA 2006 82 mins Dir: Glen Morgan.
Although retaining certain narrative and visual aspects of Bob Clark’s 1974 classic (and, notably, dropping the line “Let me lick your big cunt”), the remake from FINAL DESTINATION writing / directing duo Glen Morgan & James Wong abandons the original’s restrained, drip-feed creepiness in favour of screaming babes, loud false scares, gaudy humour and eyeball-munching gore. A series of marvellously bad-taste flashbacks document the warped childhood of asylum escapee Bill, including the time he was forced to have sex with his own mother before beating her to death with a rolling bin and using her corpse to bake delicious skin cookies.
Billy, however, may not necessarily be the one responsible for the systematic culling of a group of sexy sorority sisters gathering for a Christmas party with house mother Andrea Martin (star of the 1974 movie). Although bearing all the signs of post-production tampering courtesy of Dimension Films (and released in different versions in the US and the UK, with trailers containing scenes in NEITHER version!), this abandons the smug, self-referential shtick of the SCREAM era in favour of sick jokes, a Fulci-esque enthusiasm for eye gougings and even gratuitous shower scenes. It’s splendidly mean spirited throughout, and cannily kills off those we expect to survive, generating real suspense in the process. What’s more, the disturbing in-bred “Agnes” is one of Christmas horror’s most unsettling antagonists.
Review by Steven West