Hey there, Drinkers!
Tis the season for gift giving, sleigh bell ringing and black beer drinking. And once again in celebration of the holidays, I’ve teamed up with Anne from We Recycle Movies to watch some terrible holiday-themed slashers while drinking a few good beers. Since Anne’s blog is all about sequels and remakes, we watched the two iterations of Black Christmas while sipping on Bootlegger’s Black Phoenix (it’s black…and phoenix’s live again…nevermind) and also The Beer That Saved Christmas (aka the beer that saved us the pain of watching these movies). So sit down, enjoy those chestnuts roasting over that open fire and prepare for a black Christmas!
Let’s begin at the beginning. The original Black Christmas was released in 1974 and subsequently….actually I don’t think it did anything after that. To horror fanatics, I think it ranks as a sort-of spiritual predecessor to Halloween, as the films are surprisingly similar (albeit that Halloween is a much better film). But beyond that, the film doesn’t hold much water. Or blood. The film, which follows the deadly targeting of a sorority house, very rarely elevates itself beyond creepy but usually relegates itself to the mundane. The film slowly meanders between its uninteresting characters and largely ignores the murders, which is very odd for the genre. Occasionally the film veers off-course entirely and does very little to reincorporate itself into the central plot. The scariest parts of the movie are actually its phone calls. A’la Scream, the girls of the house are harassed by unnerving, sexual and animalistic calls that the police generally disregard until the end of the film. For the most part, there is very little that really captivated me with this movie but there are two points that are worth mentioning. One, the film very directly deals with the issue of abortion. Our heroine finds herself unintentionally pregnant and makes the difficult decision to have an abortion, a conviction she firmly holds on to throughout the film. Second (SPOILER ALERT), you never find out who the killer is. There a few suspects but they are all cleared/killed by the end of the film, and with only two shots of the killer himself (all shadowed and highlighting only his eyes), you never actually learn who the killer is or his motivation. A fact that I found infuriating. But maybe some people find that genre-defying. I found it lame.
And the 2006 remake of Black Christmas? Yeah it’s pretty terrible. In this version, the film takes the mythology of the original and over-explains everything. See in the original, the mystery killer keeps mentioning the names “Billy” and “Agnes,” two characters we never meet. In the 2006 version we know right away who our killer is: Billy. Billy is a yellow-skinned cannibalistic killer who is raped by his mother, who gives birth to his oddly man-like daughter Agnes. Oh and Billy made Christmas cookies out his mother’s skin. Whatever. Anyway, all of this story is WAY over-explained in stupid flashbacks that mostly serve to gross us out while cheaply delivering plot. The rest of the film follows the various murders of these sorority sisters and the occasional douche-y boyfriend that gets caught in the way. And while this film provides our bad guys with “motivation,” the film really isn’t any better than the original. Actually, it’s probably worse. The acting is terrible, the kills are kinda silly and the bad guys are just really lame. It does feature Katie Cassidy before she was Laurel Lance on Arrow (great show, not a good actress), so that’s a fun fact. And finally, it’s simply not scary. Yeah it’s a little gross but that’s only a small factor when it comes to successful horror movies. Overall, I’d say don’t waste your Christmas on these movies. Maybe watch something a little more wholesome.
And ours beers? Pretty solid actually. The first we had was Prairie Artisan Ales’ The Beer That Saved Christmas (that’s a mouthful) . This brew is an Old Ale, a style of beer I didn’t even know about. Apparently, these beers can be very fruity and malty, which is pretty much how I’d describe this one. Pouring a deep, almost rust-colored brown, you’ll get a sweet, malty nose and lovely tan head. When you taste it, you’ll get a very interesting and bright pop of flavor. I tasted a nice mix of cherry, red wine and oak barrel (this beer is barrel aged). What is most interesting is that big splash of character almost immediately disappears into a smooth, light finish. And for a 10% brew, you get almost no booziness. It’s hard to say that this beer was extraordinary but it certainly was interesting. If you’re looking for something different this holiday season, I’d say give this one a shot.
As for Bootlegger Brewery’s Black Phoenix, this brew held up as a solid coffee stout with a nice little twist of chipotle spice. Pouring a deep black with minimal chocolate-lacing, you get a well-balanced mix of roasted malts, coffee flavor and a hint of chipotle. None of these flavors hit you over the head and the 6.7% ABV keeps this beer under control. For a beer with some many potentially big flavors involved, I found this coffee stout to fairly mild-mannered and easy to drink, which makes it a good alternative for those looking for something a little lighter when you’re perusing the stout aisle at your local beer store.
So there you have it, Drinkers! A Black Christmas! As per usual with these holiday specials, the movies were pretty awful but the beer and the company really made the night a winning combo. Be sure to show Anne some love and check out her review of the movies which will probably hold the same level of disdain as my own review. Thanks as always for reading and have a happy holiday season!
Prairie’s Beer That Saved Christmas:
-Big, bright opener
-Mild, smooth finish
-Surprisingly not boozy
Black Christmas (1974):
-No killer reveal
Black Christmas (2006):
-Too much exposition
-Sad remake to a sad original