Although I mentioned it in another context in the postscript of my Maniac review, I failed to evoke Black Christmas when discussing other horror films that open with a shot of the killer’s subjective point of view. An especially glaring omission since not only does it predate the other films mentioned (yes, even Halloween) but because since the age of 16 when I randomly discovered it in the horror section at the Wherehouse (Where? The Wherehouse!) , I’ve become slightly obsessed with the film and count it amongst my favorite films of all time, regardless of genre.
With the holiday season in full bloom, this month will mark my annual viewing of Bob Clark’s 1973 masterpiece, and hopefully unlike a few years ago when I arrived to a sold out sign, I will be able to see it theatrically for the first time at the New Beverly on December 18th when it plays with 1984’s Silent Night, Deadly Night in a Christmas slasher double bill. Perhaps after that screening I will discuss in further detail my appreciation for the film itself, but now to the subject at hand: the overall sucky-assness of Critical Mass’s Collector’s Edition DVD cover, circa 2003. There are several different DVD releases of Black Christmas with several different covers, but I am focusing on this one because it’s the DVD most leaden with extras, and it happens to be the version I own.
Apparently employing the same graphic designers assigned to create the many radio talk show host billboards in Los Angeles, the Black Christmas DVD cover is a mess of composition, fonts gone crazy and a lame tagline. Let’s start with the composition, I have no issues with the background shot of the sorority house that serves as the setting for the majority of the film, but egads, that foreground picture is horrendous, having seen the movie numerous times it took me a close inspection before I realized that the person in close-up is not in fact a victim of the invasion of the body snatchers or a burn ward patient, but rather the film’s first victim, suffocated by a plastic bag. What would someone who hadn’t seen the movie think? As for the mixed fonts, was that the result of a late night compromise between someone who wanted to go with an X-Files inspired glowing uncapitalized typewriter feel with someone who is a big fan of the shattered glass effect? In the future, someone has to just give up their pride and say, you know what bro, I’ll get the next cover. Lastly the tagline “’Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, a creature was stirring…”, while not as lame in comparison to the other atrocities, it pales next to the original tagline which is still one of the all time greats: “If this movie doesn’t make your skin crawl…IT’S ON TOO TIGHT!”
BUT…and here’s where Critical Mass redeems itself, when you tear through the shrink-wrap, you have the option of reversing the cover where you can display the classic hand drawn poster containing a clear view of the suffocated victim in a Christmas wreath, with the original awesome tagline and the title in one continuous font throughout both words. Black Christmas was released under several different titles including Silent Night, Evil Night and the less festive Stranger in the House, but each release featured this classic design. While I have to slag Critical Mass for not making this the cover buyers will see displayed at their local DVD retailer, I do give them huzzahs for including it at all! This is the cover that prompted my initial rental and began my 15 plus year love affair with the film. If this was the cover when I was 16, I probably would’ve walked out with the latest Children of the Corn sequel instead.
Special Note: This is the third or fourth time I’ve mentioned Black Christmas on this blog, and the first time I didn’t reference last year’s crappy remake. Yay for me! Oh, whoops…