Manic Movie Magic: Black Christmas (1974)

Ah, December, the time of snow, holiday cheer, and back-crushing, soul-destroying finals. Nothing quite like it, eh folks? Which is why I was more than happy to wander on down to my local school library to secure a copy of this movie, that reminds as us all that no matter how bad the finals season, grades don’t matter when you’re dead.

Yes, that got dark really quickly, but hey, it’s the holidays, what did you expect? So sit back, my children, and listen to the story, of a frightfully dark Christmas, in all it’s bloody glory. This is Black Christmas.

If anyone was going to be able to do murderous Christmas any justice, it was going to the Canadians. I mean, they’re great at holiday horror movies. Hell, they took the most manufactured, lovey-dovey holiday and turned it into My Bloody Valentine. So why shouldn’t they be able to do the same with Christmas? Not mention it’s directed by Bob Clark, who directed and co-wrote A Christmas Story. IT WAS DESTINY I TELL YOU!

The plot is basically the standard horror fare. There’s a sorority house that has been experiencing weird creepy phone calls and people disappearing all over the place. And of course, there’s a serial killer in the attic who takes them out one by one. And yes, the guy is actually never caught by the police, and the film implies that he has many more Christmas massacres to go. Yes, the remake is more like a prequel/sequel. And no, surprisingly, it’s played pretty straight. That’s right, the one film you think would be filled with camp? Not much of it to be found. But hey, at least the plot is pretty well held together and is at points ACTUALLY CREEPY.

That’s right. I said it. Whatcha gonna to do about it?

However, beyond murder and running around, there’s not as much depth to the story or characters as I’d have like there to have been. It’s sort of just one murder set up after another until they try to catch the guy. The best part is the ending where there is nothing revealed about the murderer, other than he’s still loose and everyone’s about to die. The acting is the standard fair, pretty good considering that this is an indie film, so don’t expect wooden performances or anything like that. However, I will say that Olivia Hussey is probably my favorite in the entire movie, if only because she adds so much to what is basically the boring wallflower horror lead, and made me care about her surviving. Which more than I could say for the other sorority sisters.

It looks…like a film from the 1970s produced outside of a major studio system would look like. Grainy, choppy, terrible editing, the B-movie works. So if that’s going to bother you, then maybe don’t watch the movie. But for me, I kind of like the down-home indie aesthetic, if only because its the kind of thing that’ll slowly fade away in cinema history. And it has character! The special effects are cheesy at best and second-hand-embarrassing at worst. But it’s still very watchable. In terms of music, there’s a big hole there, but again, it’s only distracting if you’re looking for it…and I was.

What shines a lot about this movie is the scares. The scenes of murder are genuinely disturbing and discomforting, which I haven’t felt since I watching the Saw series. There’s a real suspense in the movie that even though doesn’t hold through all of the movie, does manage to work right when it needs to. Even the phone calls, now the most cliché crap in all of horror movies, really had me on the edge of my seat towards the end, more so when you realize we never find out who the killer actually is.

“…wait is this Sally? Oh boy, this is awkward…umm so I’ve been phone stalking the wrong house…”

In the end, Black Christmas is not the huge campfest you’d expect, but it certainly does a better job of being genuinely scary than nearly every other Christmas-themed horror films and a lot of horror films in general. While I’m not going to say it’s my favorite, or that I’d want to watch it every year, there is a cult following for a reason and I’d recommended watching it just for the sake of getting all that saccharine sugariness that is Christmas. And hey, all that praise can’t be for nothing, right?

Next week, more Christmas mayhem! As long as I can find another worth reviewing that is.

Pros:

– Good Scares.

– Strong Plot.

-Good acting.

Cons:

– Poor special effects.

– Played straight (sadly).

– Little beyond hack and slash.

Rating: 3.5/5

 

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Starshine5050

As just a regular, hard-working work, often-stressing, procrastination-mastering history and journalism student, I often turn to the silver and small screens for relief, even though I'm only an average cinema-and-television loving viewer, commenting on what, and does not, makes good entertainment. I love horror everything - book, TV shows, games, movies - even though they frighten me terribly. I'm a long time believer of the old saying "When life gives you lemons, don't take life's lemons! Give the lemons back!" So, onward I go, returning lemons and logging an unhealthy amount of screen time for your enjoyment. So please be sure to read my stuff and let me know what you think, I'm alway looking to improve and be the best, most cynical critic I can be!

Latest posts by Starshine5050 (see all)

Starshine5050

As just a regular, hard-working work, often-stressing, procrastination-mastering history and journalism student, I often turn to the silver and small screens for relief, even though I'm only an average cinema-and-television loving viewer, commenting on what, and does not, makes good entertainment. I love horror everything - book, TV shows, games, movies - even though they frighten me terribly. I'm a long time believer of the old saying "When life gives you lemons, don't take life's lemons! Give the lemons back!" So, onward I go, returning lemons and logging an unhealthy amount of screen time for your enjoyment. So please be sure to read my stuff and let me know what you think, I'm alway looking to improve and be the best, most cynical critic I can be!

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