Friday, September 7, 2012

The Phantom of the Open Hearth (1976)

With everyone up in arms and shitting crumb cake over the fact that they (inevitably) went and made A Christmas Story 2, this seems like the perfect time to point out that your precious Part 1 was a goddamned remake anyway. Well, not exactly, but this movie does feature (a different) Ralphie, (a different) The Old Man, the same annoying narrator guy, and even the saga of the infamous leg lamp. Ralphie's in high school in this version though, so he's less concerned with BB guns and more concerned with some piece named Daphne Bigelow who, the voice in his head informs us, "offers ecstasies not yet plumbed by human experience". That means he's pretty sure she's a virgin.

"And rest assured, I'm going to be the one who pops that particular cherry."
Once you disregard the previously mentioned Christmas Story touchstones, the rest of this movie is all over the place though, and it's a tad darker and a lot more low-brow than the take we're all familiar with. For example, there's a surprising amount of drunken puking. My absolute favorite bit is when Ralphie rents a tux for the junior prom and the only jacket in his size has a bullet hole right through the heart and dried blood all over it! I swear to fuck I'm not making that up. And I was completely blindsided by the end, where the titular Phantom of the Open Hearth goes on a supernatural rampage, killing two of Ralphie's idiot friends and briefly possessing his mom. Okay, fine, I am making that part up.

But it could have happened.
There's one final, almost meta touch I haven't mentioned yet. The movie begins and ends with Ralphie as an adult, speaking directly to us and waxing incoherently about bumper stickers and his time in the army as he segues into and out of the main story. It's almost like they're intentionally pegging him as exactly the type of annoying bore who tortures family and friends alike with his rambling, pointless stories that have no clear beginning or end and you've all already heard at least a dozen times before. Needless to say, this couldn't be more appropriate.
For reviews of more rare movies, some of which probably have "phantom" in the title, check out my book Legendary House of Haunted Hell, now available on Amazon.


  1. so what you're really saying is, this is no classic?

  2. so what you're really saying is, this is no classic?

  3. There was already a sequel to "A Christmas Story". It was called "A Summer Story". Apparently, it has another title, "It Runs in the Family"; according to IMDB. Even though the goddamn picture of the box has the former title on it.

    1. Yup, I've seen that one too, and it also reuses a scene from "Phantom of the Open Hearth", to wit, the one where the ladies expecting a free dinnerware set only get gravy boats and go on a rampage. Oh, and spoiler warning for two different movies.