It's that time of year again. While everyone is trying to get in the holiday spirit, the Time Warp Drive-In offers spirits of a different kind. Every December, the retro cinema experience from Black Lodge, Mike McCarthy, Piano Man Pictures, and Holtermonster Designs brings the most bizzare Christmas films they can find to the Malco Summer Drive-In. The seventh edition of Strange Christmas features a doubleheader of holiday horror.
The first film is an unlikely classic. 1974's Black Christmas is an early entry in the post-Exorcist horror boom. The cast is certainly impressive: It stars 2001: A Space Odyssey's Keir Dullea, Enter the Dragon's John Saxon (who would later make a career out of playing cops in horror flicks), and future Lois Lane Margot Kidder. It was directed by Bob Clark, a former semi-pro football player turned ’70s low-budget auteur. Clark's unlikely career included both the seminal teensploitation Porky's and the beloved holiday comedy A Christmas Story. Black Christmas was Clark's second film, and is now widely recognized by horror aficionados as a foundational slasher flick. It certainly decks the halls with the slasher trappings: A group of teenagers, mostly women (in this case, a sorority house), a remorseless killer whose motives are unclear to the victims, and a devilish creativity in murder techniques. You know how plastic bags are sometimes printed with suffocation warnings? Yeah, that.
Black Christmas left a long legacy. John Carpenter cited it as an inspiration for Halloween, and it's been remade twice, most recently last year as a feminist parable by indie director Sophia Takal. One of its most infamous descendants is the second film on the Strange Christmas bill, Silent Night, Deadly Night. Released in 1984 at the height of the Reagan-era slasher fad, Silent Night, Deadly Night was released the same day as A Nightmare on Elm Street. The film's graphic TV commercials sparked such outrage that it was picketed by the PTA and pulled from release after only six days — but not before it made $2.5 million dollars. It seems the world wasn't ready for a killer dressed as Santa Claus.
Tickets to the Time Warp Drive-In Strange Christmas Double Feature are $10, and masks are required for visits to the concession stand and bathrooms. Gates open at 6 p.m., show starts at 7 p.m.