31 Days of Christmas Movies Marathon: Day 15 – Black Christmas (1974)

Welcome to my 31 Days of Christmas movie marathon.  This is a feature where I watch a different Christmas movie every day from now until Christmas.  The rules are simple: The movie has to be something I haven’t already seen and I must watch at least one Christmas-themed movie a day from now until December 25th.  They’ll be some bad ones and hopefully a lot of great ones.  Why put myself through this?  Because it’s a good way to catch up on a lot of Christmas movies and a good way to satisfy my OCD.

On the 15th day of Christmas my true love gave to me… Black Christmas

I truly enjoyed how this movie continually changed my low expectations I had before popping it into the DVD player.  Being a slasher movie loaded with teenage protagonists, my fears had less to do with any potentially suspenseful scary moments that might occur and more to do with whether or not I’d be watching something on par with some of the shittier Jason/Freddy/Mike Myers sequels.  As it turns out, there is nothing shitty about this.

This film had me the from the first time a future victim picked up the phone and said, “Hello”, to which the killer replied “I’m going to kill you.”  Okay, actually it had me even before then with the opening frame as the killer’s point of view walks us to the soon to be house of death via a crane and shoulder mounted rigged camera. Yes, this was the first movie to use the now played out scenario of a killer calling its victim from a certain nearby location of which I won’t say in fear of spoiling the “twist” for those of you who have either never seen this movie or have never seen any of the Scream movies before.

The premise is simple; students living in a sorority house are dying to go home for Christmas break.  We, the viewers, are left to figure out who’s killing them, what the killer(s?) motive is, which girls will make it out alive, and where the killer’s perverted crank phone calls are coming from.  We’re also treated to one of my favorite not-your-tarditional-Christmas movie effects; the juxtaposition of Christmas music teamed up with violence.  Some of my favorite  holiday films such as Die Hard, Gremlins, and the SWAT raid scene on the Griswald’s home in Christmas Vacation serve as shining examples of this when done right.  Now I can add Black Christmas to that list.

There’s something about that particular style of shooting along with other 1970’s horror esthetics that gives me great pleasure.  Here Bob Clark‘s direction is very reminiscent of the great Italian horror directors, who at the same time were at the height of their Gialli horror movement.  Gialli horror, for those of you who don’t already know, is a certain style of horror pioneered by the likes of Mario Bava and mastered by such greats as Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci.  Films attached to this genre generally contain large amounts of pulp, mystery, and crime and are often very bloody and exploitative in its eroticism.  Black Christmas, when compared to what Argento and Fulci were filming at the time (Blood Red and Don’t Torture A Duckling), comes off as being tame, yet in its tameness it is still able to exploit all of the Gialli characteristics and keep me on the edge of my couch.  Even in its predictability plot twist I was still immersed in the story and cared about what happened to all of the characters.  There weren’t oodles of blood, and I wasn’t treated to seeing into the eyes of any of the characters as they took their final breath, but enough was left to my imagination for me to still be a little creeped out.

Coolest thing about this twisted movie, aside from it helping to usher in the slasher movie craze of the 80s, is that the director is the same guy who nine years later would give us the Norman Rockwellian family classic, A Christmas Story.

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Categories: Reviews

2 Comments on “31 Days of Christmas Movies Marathon: Day 15 – Black Christmas (1974)”

  1. December 10, 2011 at 8:19 am #

    Great film!

  2. December 28, 2011 at 4:25 am #

    I actually kind of hated this movie. The pacing was so slow, the characters were so wooden and lifeless, and I felt cheated at the end because there wasn’t any real resolution. The movie doesn’t even reveal who the killer is! I wish I chose a different Christmas horror movie to watch.

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