Black Christmas appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. A mixed bag, the transfer didn’t seem as strong as I’d like.
Sharpness worked as one of the more positive elements. Though a little softness crept into a few shots, the movie usually remained pretty crisp and concise. No jaggies or shimmering marred the presentation, and I detected no edge enhancement. Other than a few specks and more grain than normal, the movie remained free from source flaws.
Colors caused a few concerns. Through the use of various holiday bulbs, the flick featured heavy levels of colored lighting. These sometimes came across as a bit heavy and murky. They got better as the movie progressed, but I thought the tones tended to be denser than I’d prefer. Blacks were acceptably deep and full, but shadows also veered into the somewhat thick realm. Again, these remained reasonably viewable but they lacked the definition I’d like to see. Overall, the transfer was perfectly watchable but a bit erratic.
On the other hand, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Black Christmas proved to be eminently satisfying. The soundfield added an awful lot to the production. It favored quieter elements, but it used these to create a very immersive, three-dimensional setting. All five channels featured accurately placed, well spread out sounds to surround us with the movie’s creepy concepts. These used the spectrum in a very positive manner to form an involving, active soundscape.
Across the board, audio quality seemed strong as well. Speech always sounded natural and concise, without edginess or other issues. Music was bright and bold, while effects appeared clean and clear. During louder sequences, low-end reinforcement added good oomph to the presentation. I don’t normally award “A”-level grades to efforts that stay as subdued as this one can be, but I thought the involving nature of the sound design meant the flick deserved that.
A smattering of extras appears here. Seven Deleted Scenes fill seven minutes, seven seconds, while three Alternate Endings go for a total of 12 minutes, seven seconds. Among the “Deleted Scenes”, we find “Someone In the Attic” (2:16), “Christmas Ringtones” (1:12), “Gift Exchange” (0:24), “The Girls Discuss Kyle and Eve” (0:50), “Phone Call from Dana (Extended Version)” (0:50), “Melissa Killed in the Hallway (International Version)” (0:37), and “Lauren’s Death (Alternate Version)” (0:57).
All of the clips under “Deleted Scenes” prove to be inconsequential. The alternate/extended sequences don’t stand out as memorable, and all the others present minor bits at best. As for the “Alternate Endings”, they’re more interesting, primarily due to the different ways they deal with the villains. They don’t work better than the conclusion to the flick, but they’re not actually worse either.
A 28-minute program called ”What Have You Done?”: The Remaking of Black Christmas mixes movie clips, shots from the production, and interviews. We hear from writer/director Glen Morgan, executive producer Bob Clark, fansite webmaster Dan Duffin, producer James Wong, sound recordist Patrick Ramsay, production coordinator Jennifer Metcalf, script supervisor Helga Ungurait, production designer Mark Freeborn, director of photography Rob McLachlan, grip Paul Chorney, and actors Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Oliver Hudson, Crystal Lowe, Robert Mann, Lacey Chabert, Katie Cassidy, Andrea Martin, Michelle Trachtenberg, and Kristen Cloke.
The show covers some notes about the original 1974 flicks and the remake’s path to the screen. We get info about the adaptation and how the new movie expands the original. We also learn about characters and performances, sets and locations, cinematography and visual design, and a few other production notes.
“Remaking” offers a pretty solid look at the production. I like the info that connects with the original, and the rest of the show fills in some useful details as well. Occasionally it comes across as a little promotional, but it usually remains interesting and informative.
Next comes the 26-minute and 32-second ”May All Your Christmases Be Black” – A Filmmaker’s Journey. It includes comments from Morgan, Cloke, Wong, Trachtenberg, Chabert, McLachlan, Freeborn, Lowe, Winstead, Cassidy, 1st assistant cameraman/actor Dean Friss, camera operator Mike Wrinch, costume designer Greg Mah, key makeup artist Joann Fowler, and stunt coordinator Dave Hospes. We get reactions to the general failure of Morgan’s prior flick Willard, the nature of this film’s scares, themes and story issues, some technical elements, performances and some scene specifics, photographic topics, the atmosphere on the set, and a few other notes.
“Black” acts as a good complement to “Remaking”. Both cover similar production issues but don’t repeat details or become redundant. It moves at a nice pace and covers the relevant subjects in a concise manner to become a useful piece.
A few ads open the DVD. We get promos for Grindhouse, Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show, Hannibal Rising, Pulse and Feast. No trailer for Christmas appears here.
A genuinely pedestrian horror flick, Black Christmas fails to scare or engage. It throws out a now-standard psycho slasher motif embellished with more backstory than normal, but it fails to develop either thread in a satisfying manner and becomes awfully disjointed. That renders any potential jolts impotent and makes this a tedious, predictable film. The DVD presents adequate visuals, excellent audio, and a small but useful set of extras. For fans, the DVD merits a look, but I can’t recommend it to anyone else. There are too many good horror movies out there for me to get you to waste your time with this clunker.