Recently, the controversial feminist terror Bloody Natal (2019) hit streaming platforms via Telecine Play. The film was not shown in Brazilian theaters during a pre-pandemic time due to its critical failure and box office in the United States. However, Black Christmas (in the original) has a long history, far beyond this new production. The new movie is actually a remake of a 1970s classic, which helped define what we have today, and especially we got in the 1980s, when the subject is terror and the sub-slasher. kind.
Thinking about it, to pay homage to this true landmark of genre cinema, I have formulated this new article which aims to shed some light not only on the classic (although mainly in it), but also on its remakes. Find out below.
Night of Terror (1974)
The original Black Christmas is one of those films that already had different titles in Brazil. What matters is its original name, for which it is recognized worldwide and never confused. Currently here, it is commonly referred to as the Night of Terror.
There’s a debate about who was actually the first film in the slasher subgenre, with some even pointing to Alfred Hitchcock’s classic Psycho (1960), or the more obscure The Torture of Fear – from the same year. One thing is for sure, they became popular with John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978). Before that, however, some productions were already marking what would become slasher even in the early 1970s, such as The Massacre of the Electric Saw (1974). That same year, Black Christmas caused a chill.
Additionally, the film can be seen as the forerunner in the slasher subgenre of “commemorative dates,” using Christmas as the scene of its terror. Then there would be Halloween (Halloween), Bad Luck Day on Friday the 13th (1980) and Valentine’s Day (La Macabre Valentine’s Day, 1981), for example. In the plot of Black Christmas, the setting is a sorority house, a popular place of residence for college students in the United States. In the residence, inhabited by several students, the girls begin to be secretly eliminated one by one. Worst of all, everything happens from inside the house. This is one of the more edgy and spooky elements of the production directed by Bob Clark – which would later become known for the very different comedies, Porky’s – The House of Love and Laughter (1981) and A Christmas Story ( 1983) – emphasizing the same date with other content. Residents begin to receive strange phone calls, with disconnected sentences and terrifying noises. One of the main aspects of the horror of the work is the hostility typical of a non-technological era. So we discover that the calls come from inside the house, from the attic, where a maniac is hiding, and takes his victims after being shot.
The identity of the mad psychopath is never revealed, and we barely get to see the subject. You can see parts of his body in his attacks, or his eye when he looks between the cracks, for example. We don’t even know his intention, where he came from, who he is or his fate, because the ending is ambiguous and open. In one of the work’s most iconic moments, the maniac kills one of his victims, suffocated with a plastic bag, and strategically positions him in a rocking chair in the attic, facing the venue’s window. The image of the girl with the plastic on her head is used as art for the movie poster. In the cast, famous names of the time such as Olivia Hussey (Romeo and Juliet, Death on the Nile, Psycho 4 and It: A Masterpiece of Fear), Margot Kidder (Lois Lane from Superman films with Christopher Reeves and Terror in Amityville) and John Saxon (Nightmare on Elm Street).
The biggest success of this intimate and deliberately slow pace by today’s standards is building an atmosphere of pure fear, where we’re gradually taken to the last place these characters would want to be. The problem is that such a place is your own home. Other than that, there’s an ambiguity about who the villain really is, when the directors joke about the possibilities of a thriller between the characters. A Canadian production, Night of Terror premiered in its home country on October 11, hitchhiking for Halloween. In the USA, it would reach the right date on December 20 of the same year.
Black Christmas (2006)
More in keeping with the original title, this remake produced by Dimension Films (like Panic / Miramax subsidiary of Harvey Weinstein) arrived 32 years after the release of Night of Terror. The remake was part of the trend that was unfolding in Hollywood at the time of reinventing the classics of the genre from the 1970s. Thus, director Glen Morgan (producer of The X-Files and Premonition 3) withdrew his vision of classic. the paper – by signing a script and a staging. For this new version, the filmmaker paid a great tribute, showing respect and adoration for the previous work. For example, the serial killer “Billy” and his pseudonym Agnès are gaining prominence, even receiving a backstory (a past or origin story) beyond the bizarre and disturbing. Morgan also cranks up the gore to maximum volume, creating an extremely violent film and giving fans of the genre what they really expect. Here we have already lived through the era of cellphones, so it came into play by being added to the storyline and giving victims some mobility.
In addition, Morgan filled his feature film with the presence of promising young stars, who already had a certain reputation at the time. The names that still remain known are those of Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Katie Cassidy, Michelle Trachtenberg and Lacey Chabert. Ah yes, the icing on the cake is the involvement of original creator Bob Clark as producer, giving the film the validation it needed. However, for all its appeal, a good technical part, which includes great photographs, fans and critics just didn’t feel captivated by this reinterpretation of the classic. Launched on December 25, 2006 in the United States, Natal Negro, with a budget of $ 9 million, recorded a return of $ 21.5 million worldwide. In Brazil, not even released in theaters and take a long time to land here. The word that played against the film the most is exaggeration.
Bloody Christmas (2019)
I recently wrote about the controversy surrounding this second remake of Black Christmas in less than fifteen years. Necessary? Probably not. But what director and screenwriter Sophia Takal is doing here is just take the title and the basic concept (college students are attacked and killed one by one in a sorority house over Christmas vacation. ) and reformulate the whole story, concept and twists. This includes sweeping under the rug all that concerns the psychopath Billy and his alter ergo Agnes. In other words, it is the version that remains the furthest from the primer that formed the previous ones. Basically that would be making a Friday the 13th movie without Jason or Halloween without Michael Myers. Well, this has been done in the past for these franchises, but today it can be inconceivable.
Fans are always clamoring for re-imaginations that try to do something different. And it is precisely in this area that the director Takal positions her new Black Christmas. This is actually the least of the complaints about the film. And if the 2006 version increased the gore too much, this 2019 edition reduced it to the point of excluding any trace of violence or blasphemy. This is the most tame Black Christmas of the three, to say the least. The reason was to appeal to a wider audience, especially teenage girls who wouldn’t be able to enter otherwise. The censorship is thirteen years. Something that no hardcore horror fan likes very much.
What stood out most for Bloody Christmas, however, was its feminist agenda. The speech here is anything but subtle. The men are the bad guys and the women the heroines who fight them. Sexual abuse, toxic masculinity, machismo and rape are the order of the day, and these are all very valid topics for this type of advertising. The problem is, they should have been better worked. The film has its head in the right place, but maybe the inexperience of the director who also signs the script has hindered it. Other than that, Blumhouse’s feature film had only 5 months since its announcement (including pre-production, filming and release) to be ready. And keeping that in mind is even admirable. But the work ends up getting lost and slipping into its result, adding supernatural elements to the plot which, although it should be read as an analogy, are guaranteed to draw a large chunk of viewers away by appearing out of nowhere. at the end of the third act and shed some of the fervent discourse he proudly displayed, redeeming some of the guilt of such “controlled” men for behaving in this manner.
Sadly, this new take on the classic has lived to become one of the mainstream least popular movies, making it onto the (chosen by themselves) list of the worst movies of all time.
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