A lot has been said about Black Christmas over the years. And most of that has been overwhelmingly positive. Often considered the first and best slasher film, Black Christmas is credited with creating a host of norms or, more accurately, what went on to become cliché’s within the genre. But you can’t hold that against the film that started it all. And unlike many (heck, most) of the copycats down the road this film still has considerable staying power and re-watchability. I see it every year around this most festive time and it still manages to send a chill or two down my spine –that’s a big deal for someone who watches as many flicks as I do.
It’s Christmas time at the sorority and the girls are mostly enjoying their break by drinking and boozing it up, exchanging gifts, talking dirty about boys, and, oh yeah, answering obscene prank phone calls. What starts out as a series of perverted phone calls quickly spirals into something much more sinister after one of the girls goes missing. Of course, the audience knows through some creative POV (a genre first) that she isn’t missing at all. She is sitting in a rocking chair in the attic with a plastic bag wrapped around her head; murdered by a crazy psychopath who is just getting started.
Director Bob Clark creates at atmosphere of extreme uneasiness throughout the film. It’s one of the best qualities of the film. The script is super witty and clever and features several laugh out loud moment involving Margot Kidder as the slutty sorority sister with no manners and a big mouth. Marian Waldman also provides tons of comic relief as the House Mom obsessed with hiding booze all over the sorority. It keeps the film moving and provides for plenty of moments to catch your breath between the killings. Bob Clark’s other Christmas movie is a little thing you might have heard of as well, A Christmas Story. Yep, the same guy is essentially responsible for two of the all-time best holiday themed movies, albeit vastly different genres.
The film also touches on subjects that are taboo (some still to this day) like abortion. It’s a little melodramatic, but takes the film outside of the conventional hot teens having sex all over the place and getting killed norm of the genre. The characters look and feel much more real than what we have become accustomed to.
And finally, the ending of the film is one of the best. Clark had to fight to keep his ending and it’s safe to say he made the right choice. The final shot of the film is one of the most haunting and disturbing moments in horror.
Snore Factor: Z