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Movie Review: Black Christmas

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011


Black Christmas


I first saw Black Christmas after hearing that it was the predecessor to the modern slasher film.  Having seen all ten Halloween films, twelve Friday the 13ths, and every spawn of A Nightmare on Elm Street, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this film. Thankfully this film doesn’t let you down. While many consider Halloween to be the best slasher, and often held to be the first ‘American Slasher’, I can honestly say without reserve that Black Christmas is the best slasher I have ever seen.   This hidden gem comes to us from our neighbors in the north, and was produced in 1974, just prior to the slasher craze here in the States. The film itself follows a group of women in a sorority as they get ready to leave for their Christmas break. The house has recently been plagued with a plethora of obscene anonymous phone calls which seem harmless… until one of their sisters goes missing.  What follows is one of the best paced horror films I have ever seen. Black Christmas is not only a thrilling film, thick with atmosphere, but a mystery. Unlike most slasher films this film does an amazing job developing its characters through subtle interactions, without any lewd stereotypes that are just waiting to be killed. Each character is explored rather equally, brushing the surface of their lives without delving so deeply in that it takes you out of the film. For those of you who are a bit squeamish, this is not a gory movie; it doesn’t rely on a lot of blood, or disturbing scenes and jump scares. Admittedly Black Christmas does fall victim to some of the common tropes most horror films poses, however it also breaks a lot of them, so you don’t get that déjà vu you feel with most films in the genre. I’d recommend this film to anybody who is interested in the Horror genre, and it is a great starter if you haven’t seen many horror films, but just want to see something scary.

-Andrew Goetschius

Persistent Link: http://voyager.uvm.edu/vwebv/holdingsInfo?bibId=2174074

Need Help Finding Articles on Literature or Film?

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

Do you need to find “scholarly” articles and books about an author or literary work? Did your professor tell you not to include anything that was found using Google? Literature Resource Center and MLA International Bibliography can help.

Literature Resource Center is a portal to full-text scholarly articles, essays, and biographical sketches on authors worldwide (including selected filmmakers) and their works from every time period and literary discipline.

MLA International Bibliography is a database of citations to scholarly journal articles, books, and book chapters on literature, film, and related topics.

Learn the basics of using these two important databases for your research. No previous knowledge is required for these introductory workshops.


  • Literature Resource Center, Wednesday, October 20 : 4:00-5:00
  • MLA International Bibliography, Thursday, October 21 : 4:00-5:00


  • Library Classroom (main/1st floor of the library)

Questions? Contact: Patricia Mardeusz

What We’re Reading & Watching

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

We asked Ana Banu, a student who works in Bailey/Howe Library, to share some of her favorite books and movies from our collection and she delivered an eclectic mix of film, fashion, fiction, and art. Get them while they’re hot!

Here are her recommendations:

Yves Saint Laurent by Jéromine Savignon and Bernard Blistène

YSL is a brilliant fashion designer, although I could just call him a brilliant artist, without any further ado. He is also an inspiring individual not only for people who are intrigued by fashion. This book talks about his life in almost an intimate manner and presents it from different points of view, including his and the peoples who he worked with. You get to learn about his ways and also see how a character can become lovable through his actions, creations and way of living, right in front of your eyes. YSL dedicated his life to making women, and later on men, feel comfortable, powerful and stylish.

Zen in the art of archery by Eugen Herrigel

This book is one the shortest books, yet helpful and insightful, I’ve ever read. It is about Zen and it is about Archery. It is also about how the two go together in creating an awareness of the moment that is beyond words. Things, in general and in particular, begin appearing a lot simpler and natural after taking in what Eugene Herrigel says. And the way he says is accessible enough to keep you going.

Camera lucida : reflections on photography by Roland Barthes

This is one other short(er) book, but so intense and powerful that every paragraph could be developed into pages. In Camera Lucida, Roland Barthes talks about his own system of viewing and interpreting photography, beauty, history. It is both playful and academic and it explains things that are not easily explained, like why we get emotionally involved when looking at a photograph.

L’ećume des jours (translation: Froth of the Daydream) by Boris Vian

L’ećume des jours is a novel for the French speakers, only because it is in French, not because the story wouldn’t survive a broader audience. I, personally, read it in a different language and loved it. The images described in the book are so powerful and visual that they transcend language. Reading it in French might add some nuances to the strange and creative ways of telling Colin and Chloe’s story.

Malcolm X – Directed by Spike Lee

Based on The autobiography of Malcolm X, Malcolm X is a movie directed by Spike Lee. It truly embodies both historical accuracies and the director’s admiration for the person that Malcolm X was. The story is brought to life by Denzel Washington, Spike Lee’s fetish actor, and probably the best choice for playing this character.

Bubba Ho-tep

I postponed watching this movie, because it seemed to have that silly and distasteful air some movies have. But it is not distasteful, nor silly. It is the story of an old “Elvis”, who may or may not be the Real Elvis, and a black old man (Ossie Davis) who thinks he is JFK, in fighting an Egyptian mummy trying to steal some souls. And as “Elvis” says: Ask not what your rest home can do for you. Ask what you can do for your rest home.

Bamboozled, Kake Walk, & Blackface

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

BAMBOOZLED the movie

KAKE WALK the tradition

BLACKFACE the issue

Join us as we examine blackface and UVM’s once popular minstrel tradition Kake Walk through a film screening of Spike Lee’s Bamboozled. A pre-screening presentation will include a brief history of Kake Walk, an exploration of racist visual vocabulary, and a look at the resurgence of these themes. A discussion will follow the film.

7:00 PM – THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 2010 – Lafayette 108

Organized by the Center for Digital Initiatives, the Fleming Museum, and the Center for Cultural Pluralism. The CDI’s forthcoming collection Kake Walk at UVM will featured digitized archival material, and will launch on September 16th.

Hay Films Now Narrated by Retired Extension Prof

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

The Center for Digital Initiatives is pleased to announce an exciting new addition to our popular Hay Harvesting in the 1940s films. Lucien Paquette, retired UVM Extension faculty member, spoke with UVM Extension Annual Fund Officer Kurt Reichelt on January 21, 2010 in Middlebury, VT. Paquette’s insights and comments bring these silent films alive!

Watch for yourself on our Vimeo page.

These three silents films were originally digitized by the UVM Libraries in 2008, thanks to a grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation. The films were a product of the UVM Agricultural Experiment Station research conducted by rural sociologist Robert M. Carter in the 1940s. Carter studied the efficiency and costs of various haying techniques, from older hand harvesting methods to mechanized processes. This collection captures farming equipment and techniques rarely seen today.

View the original silent films online in the Hay Harvesting collection in the UVM Libraries’ Center for Digital Initiatives.

Streaming 1940s Hay Harvesting Films

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Film: Hand Methods of Harvesting Hay

Thanks to a grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation, three films documenting hay harvesting techniques have been digitized by the UVM Libraries.  These silent films are a result of rural sociologist Robert M. Carter’s 1940s study at the UVM Agricultural Experiment Station. Carter researched the efficiency and costs of various haying techniques, from older hand harvesting methods to mechanized processes. The films capture farming equipment and techniques rarely seen today.

Watch all the Hay Harvesting films streaming online at the UVM Libraries’ Center for Digital Initiatives.

CDI’s Top Ten Most Viewed Items of 2009

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Presenting the year’s most used materials in the Center for Digital Initiatives online research collections:

10. Circus People, McAllister photographs

9. Burlington Lakefront, McAllister photographs

8. A.D. Pease Grain Co., McAllister photographs

7. Using the One-Man Pick-Up Baler, Hay Harvesting in the 1940’s

6. Andrew Craig Fletcher to Andrew and Ruth Fletcher, 1864 October 20, Fletcher Family papers

5. Burlington Dump, McAllister photographs

4. Deer Hanging Upside Down Surrounded by Hunters, Tennie Toussaint photographs

3. Hand Methods of Harvesting Hay, Hay Harvesting in the 1940’s

2. The Buck Rake, Wind Stackers, and Field Chopper in Use, Hay Harvesting in the 1940’s

1. Horses Pulling a Snow Roller, Tennie Toussaint photographs

New Book Highlights

Monday, January 4th, 2010

Pakistan book cover

Pakistan : eye of the storm (3rd ed.) by Owen Bennett Jones

“This thoroughly revised and updated edition of Bennett Jones’ market-leading account of this critical modern state includes fresh material on the Taliban insurgency, the Musharraf years, the return and subsequent assassination of Benazir Bhutto, and the unlikely election as president of Asif Ali Zardari.” –Publisher’s information

I'm a Lebowski book cover

I’m a Lebowski, you’re a Lebowski : life, The big Lebowski, and what have you by Bill Green … [et al.] ; foreword by Jeff Bridges.

I’m a Lebowski, You’re a Lebowski is a treasure trove of trivia and commentary, hilarious throughout and illustrated with photos from the film, including dozens taken on the set by Jeff Bridges. It includes interviews with virtually every major and minor cast member including John Goodman, Julianne Moore and John Turturro, as well as the real-life individuals who served as inspiration for the characters such as Jeff Dowd and John Milius.” –Publisher’s information

Children of Marx book cover

Children of Marx and Coca-Cola : Chinese avant-garde art and independent cinema by Xiaoping Lin

“Informed by the author’s experience in Beijing and New York–global cities with extensive access to an emergent transnational Chinese visual culture–this work situates selected artworks and films in the context of Chinese nationalism and post-socialism and against the background of the capitalist globalization that has so radically affected contemporary China.” –Publisher’s information

Beyond Ideology book cover

Beyond ideology : politics, principles, and partisanship in the U.S. Senate by Frances E. Lee

“The congressional agenda, Frances Lee contends, includes many issues about which liberals and conservatives generally agree. Even over these matters, though, Democratic and Republican senators tend to fight with each other. What explains this discord? Beyond Ideology argues that many partisan battles are rooted in competition for power rather than disagreement over the rightful role of government.” –Publisher’s information

What We’re Watching

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

The Third Man DVD cover

Here’s a selection of Elect Resource and Serials Access Coordinator Shawn Biegen’s favorite narrative films. Shawn says, “In order to avoid my legal responsibility, as a former film student, to list Citizen Kane, The Godfather and Casablanca in any top film list, the following is a completely random selection of five films that I enjoy…”

The Third Man (1949)

While investigating the suspicious death of his childhood friend, an American pulp novelist becomes entangled in the seedy underworld of post-war Europe. The fact that this film was largely shot on location in the ruins of war-ravaged Vienna, gives it a haunting quality unique even among the best film noirs. Add to this Graham Greene’s screenplay, Carol Reed’s directing, and the acting of Joseph Cotton and Orson Welles, and you have as close to a perfect film as there is.

Watch the trailer for The Third Man:

Barry Lyndon (1975)

Relates the sordid life of its title character, an 18th century rogue intent on ascending to the peak of 18th century European society by any means necessary. This is my personal favorite out of all of Stanley Kubrick’s films. However, be forewarned that it is definitely a heavyweight, at a full 185 minutes long. So set aside an entire evening, and enjoy.

Watch the trailer for Barry Lyndon:

Brazil – 1985

Follows the life of a mid-level bureaucrat within an absurdly Orwellian society, as he becomes increasingly compromised by his search for a mysterious woman that haunts his dreams. There are actually two versions of this film available in our collection, as this film was famously taken away from its director, Terry Gilliam, and re-edited by the film’s concerned financiers. I strongly recommend watching the director’s cut.

Watch the trailer for Brazil:

The Prestige – 2006

Two rival late 19th century magicians, with a tragic personal connection, vie with each other to create the world’s most astonishing illusion in an era when scientific innovation makes anything seem possible. This excellent film was the victim of unfortunate timing, as it came out virtually simultaneously with The Illusionist, which proved to be too much magic for the general public, and split these films’ modest target audience in half.

Watch the trailer for The Prestige:

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford – 2007

This is a film I recommend very cautiously, for the following reason. I really like westerns. Unfortunately, Hollywood doesn’t make westerns anymore because apparently nobody else goes to see them. If by some miracle a western is released, I will happily sit in my seat devouring my popcorn long after the two other people in the theater have left in disgust. So, it is possible that my bias may have blinded me to the fact that this film is truly bad. With that being said, I consider this film a flawed masterpiece that inverts the clichés of its genre by examining the consequences of the celebrity status attained by western icons like Jesse James, as well as the glorification of violence often associated with their fame. I am unbiased enough to concede that the film’s often rambling narrative should have been tightened up considerably, but I think it’s still well worth seeing. At the very least, please consider watching this film (or the remake of 3:10 to Yuma, Open Range, etc.) as an altruistic act, to help save the western genre from total extinction.

Watch the trailer for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford: