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black christmas!



BLACK CHRISTMAS Ever the devoted public servant, I went to see this grisly little horror movie (which opened without benefit of preview screenings) by myself, on Christmas. That makes me sound like a real loser, but in truth, going alone to scary movies takes me back to adolescence, when my folks would drop me off at the local twin theater and I would gleefully experience soul-warping chillers with titles like Sssssss and Asylum. Writer-director Glen Morgan, who co-produced the Final Destination films, appears to have had a similarly unhealthy youth, because whenever he gets a hankering to direct, he remakes a horror classic of the 1970s. First came 2001’s Willard (which wasn’t bad at all), and now there’s Morgan’s fast-paced but unsatisfying remake of a 1974 film by director Bob Clark (Porky’s, A Christmas Story) that few saw at the time, but which has since been credited with influencing John Carpenter’s Halloween and the 30 years of slasher-movie brutality that followed. The gimmick, first devised by screenwriter Roy Moore, is simple: On Christmas Eve, a snowbound house full of sorority girls are picked off by a killer who calls the house phone in between killings to rant in a variety of voices, all of them creepy. In Clark’s version, we never saw the killer’s face or knew his reasons for killing. Here, in a series of flashbacks, Morgan tells of a boy who grew up in the house with an evil mother who drove him mad. The flashbacks are wittily gothic and the present-day murder scenes have the absurdist, chain-reaction intricacy of the Final Destination deaths, but the sorority girls — buxom babes all — are so interchangeable, and so uninteresting, that I got to wishing that Morgan and all those who tred the lucrative horror remake market would take the time to create a bonafide heroine whose survival we could cheer. Hey, does Jamie Lee Curtis have an actress daughter? (Citywide) (Chuck Wilson)