The holidays are upon us again and we’re abuzz with Yuletide spirit here at the EZED. When December rolls around, we like nothing better than sliding a turkey/stuffing/mashed potato TV dinner into the microwave, popping open a 40-oz bottle of Miller High Life, and warming up the old VCR for a long night of nostalgic seasonal classics. Let’s see what’s in the Christmas queue!
Whoa, hey, don’t go in the attic, little Cindy-Lou Who! The original “The calls are coming from inside the house!” movie, predating When A Stranger Calls by five years, Black Christmas makes the most of the fact that a sorority house is a pretty lonely place to be on Christmas Eve. There are plenty of evocative shots of departing revelers, abandoned campus greens, and long empty hallways here, as the approach of the holiday is marked by a deeper and deeper silence. And the ringing of the phone. The weird, unhinged quality of the obscene phone calls is what most people remember (grunts, animal shrieks, taunts, and the sound of a little girl crying), but Margot Kidder’s performance, as she drinks herself silly, makes inappropriate remarks, and stumbles around while her few remaining sorority sisters meet gruesome ends, is fun, too. Avoid the recent remake.
The Ice Harvest
Based on Scott Phillips’ terrific crime noir novel, this one stars John Cusack as a mob lawyer who just can’t seem to get out of town on Christmas Eve with the $2 million he’s embezzled from his cold-blooded clients. The delight here is in watching Charlie Arglist (Cusack) drive around and around snowbound Wichita, Kansas, fucking over and being fucked over by his shady companions. The Ice Harvest also includes one of Yuletide cinema’s most wince-inducing scenes: the one in which Arglist buys gifts for his estranged kids ($1.49 shrink-wrapped plastic junk from a 24-hour bodega) in the small hours of Christmas Day, as part of an ill-conceived plan to gain access to his ex-wife’s house. Oh, and another one: Christmas Eve at Wichita’s most dismal titty bar.