Just got back from seeing Black Christmas – and, yes, it’s every bit as horrid as you might have expected. But even as I endured this chuckleheaded nonsense about the eye-gouging, head-crushing and wall-to-wall slaughtering of comely sorority sisters, I found myself thinking of something far more disturbing than anything that appeared on the blood-splattered screen. To wit: Just what the hell were the two dozen or so other people in the theater doing there?
Let me explain: As a critic, I have to see things like Black Christmas, because that’s my job. I get paid to do it. If it were my job to pick up the corpses of animals that had been struck and killed by cars and trucks on the highway, and I were unlucky enough to pull the Christmas shift – well, I would get up bright and early, and start scooping up the dead doggies and kitties, because that’s how I earned a living. But I wouldn’t expect anyone else to do it without getting paid. In fact, I would have serious concerns about anyone who chose to do it for sport, as a hobby.
So: There I am at the 12:25 matinee of Black Christmas – the first showing of the day, Christmas Day, at the Edwards Grand Palace here in Houston. I’m there because it’s my job to be there – and, of course, because there certainly weren’t any press previews for this tawdry slasher flick. But what about those other folks? I mean, think about it: These people made a conscious decision to get up early, open their presents, and then rush out to see the very first friggin' showing of Black Christmas – on Christmas Day. Not Christmas night, mind you. It’s not like they’d been stuck at home all day with visiting relatives, and decided on the spur of the moment to go see some movie, any movie, just to get out of the house for a few hours. No, each had planned this, probably as early as a day or two before: “On Christmas Day, I’m going to go see the first showing of a movie in which a significant number of attractive young women will be violently murdered.”
Now I know what you’re thinking: “Oh, they must have been geeky fanboys, the kind of guys who couldn’t get laid on Death Row of a women’s prison with a pocketful of pardons.” But no: Many of the ticketbuyers appeared to be reasonably attractive adult males. There were even a few couples – guy-gal pairs – sprinkled into the mix. (Boy, I’d love to hear how that date was pitched: “Hey, honey, want to go see Black Christmas on Christmas Day?” “Why, darling! How romantic! Of course!”) And as far as I could tell – not one person walked out of the movie. Not when even when a character baked (and consumed) Christmas cookies made from hunks of human flesh. Ho, ho, ho? No, no, no.
At the risk of sounding snobbish: I made sure not to sit next to anyone else in the audience. To be frank: Whatever they had, I didn’t want to catch. (Something tells me Nikki Finke would agree.)
As for the movie itself: Well, there is a long and ignoble tradition of borderline-unwatchable movies being released on Christmas Day without press previews. But I have to admit: Black Christmas almost made me nostalgic for the likes of Roberto Benigni’s Pinocchio . That bad? That bad.