Tucked away in the wealth of holiday programming at the Alamo Drafthouse this week are two linked films with very different takes on the season. One, A Christmas Story, is an almost universally beloved seasonal classic, filled with nostalgia, warm fuzzies and just enough edge to keep it from getting saccharine. The other, Black Christmas, is an infamous proto-slasher that pioneered many of the techniques and tropes of the genre. As different as these two movies are, they do have a couple of things in common. They're both favorites of Alamo creative manager Keith Garcia, and -- strange as it seems -- they're both directed by the same man.
Apart from the world's weirdest Netflix binge, you won't get many opportunities to see director Bob Clark's schizophrenic takes on Christmas in such proximity, but Garcia sees this as a perfect opportunity to acknowledge the universal appeal of one while spreading the dark gospel of the other.
"A Christmas Story was part of our national programming, then on a personal level, from my genre love, [I'm] trying to make Black Christmas a holiday staple, because I think it deserves to be. It's the Christmas slasher movie for everyone," he says.
The celebration of Christmas cheer and seasonal slashing starts at 10 p.m. Saturday, December 21, offering horror fans a chance to see the original slasher in all of its 35mm glory.
"You could remove the holidays out of [Black Christmas], it could be set at any time," Garcia admits. "But it's such required viewing, because that film is truly the start of the slasher movie. We have films like Psycho before it, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre was right around the corner, but this was the first time that the urban legends of the time came together to create a formula that eventually would get stabbed into the ground."
"Once you add the Christmas element back into Black Christmas, it makes it the perfect horror film. There's just something that happens in the air, with the temperature and the feeling of Christmas, that makes an absolute lunatic in a sorority house awesome and terrifying."
After Clark's bleak Christmas miracle rattles your cage, come back at 7 p.m. Monday, December 23 (or 2 p.m. on Christmas Eve) to get back in a more traditional, less stabby holiday spirit with everyone's favorite tale of a little boy, a BB gun and a sexy, sexy lamp.
"A Christmas Story is the right kind of movie to become a holiday stalwart," Garcia says. "It's funny, it's memorable, it's sweet, it's sour, it's what the holiday is, which is not perfect all the time. [It has] such really great lines, which is part of us doing this as a quote-along."
That's right, it's a quote-along, so no one will shoot you dirty looks as you chant "You'll shoot your eye out!" along with the movie, and there'll be a handful of props handed out to get you in the proper mood, including a bar of soap to wash your mouth out after you drop that not-fudge F-bomb.
For tickets and additional info, visit the Alamo Drafthouse website.