A Film Bleed Double Feature! – Christmas Edition

For the past 120 years, people have flocked to movie theaters in the hopes of witnessing things that will expand their imaginations. Up until relatively recently, the theater was the one place audiences would go for film exhibition. Nowadays, if we choose to, we can have some semblance of a movie-watching experience using the same handheld device we use to call our friends or explode colored blocks with our thumbs. But when theaters were booming, you could see all kinds of different films in all kinds of different ways. Other than showing a single film at a time, possibly the most popular movie-going event theaters would host was the double feature. Double features rose in popularity in the ’30s, coinciding with the Great Depression. In fact, by the mid-1930s, most movie theaters were advertising double features as their primary attractions (that’s where we get the concept of “A” and “B” movies). The idea of watching two films for the price of one was very attractive to the financially hardened audience, and thus, the theaters were able to successfully fill seats.

The popularity of the double feature fell quite a bit by the 1960s, but throughout film history, it has manifested itself in a number of ways. Today, many cinematheques and independent movie theaters still present double feature bills, and physical media distributors often come out with double feature DVD and Blu-Ray releases. Personally, I have always enjoyed attending and/or presenting double features for viewing parties with friends. Any way you experience it, the double feature is always a special occasion.

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So, in such a spirit, I’ve decided to start this site’s first blog series: A Film Bleed Double Feature! The idea is simple: Film Bleed recommends two movies for you to watch back-to-back, on however format you’d like to watch them. It’s also recommended that you take a solid 15-minute break between viewings to refresh your drink, pop more corn, chat about what you just watched, etc. Since it’s the holiday season, and there is by no means a shortage of holiday movies, I predictably went with a Christmas theme. So let’s dive in, and take a look at the very first Film Bleed-suggested double feature:

White Christmas Black Christmas Poster

White Christmas (1954)

Dir. Michael Curtiz

First up, we have the holiday classic, White Christmas. Michael Curtiz, perhaps most famous for directing Casablanca, brings the music of Irving Berlin to life with the help of brilliant performers Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen. For a standard two-hour runtime, there are a whopping 17 performance sequences in this film. Growing up with this movie as a kid, I didn’t realize just how many songs and choreographed set pieces there were. Watching it again as an adult was a treat. For all the musical sequences, old-fashioned melodrama and over-the-top silly moments, White Christmas holds up remarkably well. The story centers around two fellas in show business/two song and dance men/two crackerjack performers named Bob Wallace (Crosby) and Phil Davis (Kaye). After serving in the Army during WWII, they team up and become one super, swell, dynamite act. They meet and start performing with the Haynes Sisters, Betty (Clooney) and Judy (Vera-Ellen). After a series of humorously forced events and cutesy matchmaking hijinx, they run into their old Army general in Vermont who has fallen on some hard times. Wallace and Davis devise a plan to help save their general’s failing business and ultimately, Christmas, I suppose. It really is a sweet story, a vibrantly beautiful looking film and one that will get you into that good old Christmas spirit.


  • The very first and last scenes, shot in identical fashion, featuring Irving Berlin’s beautifully bittersweet, “White Christmas”
  • The sequence, “Choreography,” a tongue-in-cheek number poking fun at modern dance, featuring Danny Kaye and Vera-Ellen
  • All of the dancing in the film, primarily choreographed by the brilliant, Bob Fosse

Black Christmas (1974)

Dir. Bob Clark

Now, if I were between the ages of four and ten, normally my family would follow up White Christmas with Holiday Inn. But seeing as I’m an adult now, and there’s a disturbingly unnecessary blackface sequence in Holiday Inn, I’m finishing off this double feature with Bob Clark’s horror masterpiece, Black Christmas. There’s a lot I could say about this film — too much, in fact, for a brief blurb. But I will say that I absolutely love this movie. On a modest budget, Clark created a masterfully crafted, psychologically terrifying cinematic experience. There is very little blood in the movie because the movie never really calls for it. The true terror of Black Christmas develops in your mind. The plot centers around a group of girls in a sorority house, just on the cusp of winter break. They start to receive obscene phone calls from a stranger, who, the longer he calls, delivers more and more perverted threats. The caller is a killer named Billy who’s been hiding in the attic of the sorority house and using a separate line for phone calls (he’s shown climbing inside the attic in the opening sequence). Girls go missing, the town is fraught with panic and well, bad things happen. Black Christmas has an excellent ensemble cast and features great, naturalistic performances by Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder, John Saxon and Andrea Martin. It also did so much for the horror genre and experimental filmmaking in general. It reinvented how point of view was shot, it began the whole “calls are coming from inside the house” trope and it really laid the groundwork for the entire slasher film genre. John Carpenter’s Halloween, which was released four years later, owes a lot to Black Christmas. In fact, Clark once claimed in an interview years ago that after the film was released, Carpenter asked him if he would ever do a sequel:

“…I said no. I was through with horror; I didn’t come into the business to do just horror. He said, ‘Well what would you do if you did do a sequel?’ I said it would be the next year and the guy would have actually been caught, escape from a mental institution, go back to the house and they would start all over again. And I would call it Halloween.”

Clark didn’t think Carpenter stole the idea for Halloween from him by any means, but it is interesting to go down the rabbit hole of discovering Black Christmas’ profoundly deep influence on the genre. It’s a phenomenal film with a truly creepy and quiet conclusion that will make your skin crawl.


  • The eerie noise score by Carl Zittrer, which makes your brain buzz as you watch, adding to the unsettling nature of everything you’re witnessing
  • The intensely disturbing vocal performances from Nick Mancuso, Clark and others that make up the sound of Billy’s voice on the phone
  • The simple fact that director Bob Clark, who made this depraved nightmare, went on to create the ‘80s holiday classic, A Christmas Story
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So, why were these the two films suggested for the double feature? Well, aside from the obvious title connection, watching two movies with opposing themes, in one sitting, is fascinating to me. Made only 20 years apart, these two films couldn’t be further from each other in terms of sentiment. If you combine the sweet, hopeful, romantic feelings of White Christmas with the sick, paranoid, twisted tones of Black Christmas, I think you get somewhere close to the reality of what Christmas feels like as an adult. When you mix black and white, you get some form of gray, and when I think about Christmas now, gray is the perfect shade that comes to mind. That may sound a bit morose, but it’s true. The magic of being a young kid every year on December 25th is gone, but it’s not the time for a depressive slump or an existential crisis either — not typically for me, anyhow. Christmas fits somewhere in the middle, with a sprinkle of melancholia, a sprig of joviality and a dash of apathy. I think the odd, charming part of this whole season is experiencing those little moments that compose the gray: the dark thoughts, the loneliness, the yearning, the sadness and the coziness, the warmth, the connection, the laughter. There’s a lot of humor to find in the holidays. I’ve decided to express some of it by presenting these two movies. Enjoy, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Film Bleed.

– Lou