Black Christmas

Rated R 2006

As with 2006's deviled-ham rehashing of The Omen, this stocking-snuffer remake of Bob Clark's nasty, unusually effective 1974 shocker seems to have been mandated by its release-date marketing hook: The product itself isn't so much afterthought as afterbirth -- a bloody mess to be dumped discreetly. The proto-slasher original had a hidden psycho terrorizing sorority girls (including Margot Kidder and a pre-SCTV Andrea Martin) over an anything-but-merry Christmas break. The remake retains Martin, in a largely laughless house-mother role, but adds everything the first film was smart enough to skip: half-wit motivations, an elaborate backstory for the villain, and ridiculous gory killings by icicle, candy cane, and (holy Tennessee Williams!) glass unicorn. (Attention, trend-spotters in schlock horror: Eyeball-squishing is the new finger-snipping.) You'd expect writer-director Glen Morgan, a sicko talent, to have no trouble channeling the giddy nihilism of his Final Destination movies in this bad-Santa milieu. But the movie lacks the timing and visual wit that would make its splattery EC Comics gags either genuinely scary or funny -- as silly as it may sound to carp about nuance when you're talking human-flesh gingerbread men and Christmas trees decked with eyeballs.

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Black Christmas

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