Monday, December 7, 2009

Review - Black Christmas (1974)

With the Christmas season upon us I think it’s my duty to start doing a review for almost every Christmas horror film out there starting with Black Christmas. I saw this on the big screen during Terror in the Aisles 3 on a 35mm print. It had all the scratches and cigarette burns and it was a great way to see this amazing movie. Black Christmas is about a sorority that’s preparing for Christmas but they keep getting obscene phone calls from a psychopath and then, one by one, the caller kills the girls. It’s a great concept and is one of the first slasher films next to Psycho and Halloween. I had a really hard time writing a review for this movie so, here goes nothing.

There was something that I really liked about this movie but I could never put my finger on what it was until Steve from Lost Highway got it, it was the atmosphere that this movie builds. It’s so tense and you know the killer is the house but the girls don’t know it and you want to yell at the screen! With the POV angles this movie has, it builds greater tension and puts you right there in the spooky position of our heroine. The movie itself has this holly jolly emotion to it but there is a deep dark veil over it, I guess that’s the way to describe the atmosphere of it.

Black Christmas was one of the first, or is the first, movie to start the college slasher genre and I will go further to say that it inspired movies like Graduation Day, House on Sorority Row, Cheerleader Massacre and Urban Legends. In fact, this movie is a play on the old urban legend about the babysitter he had been receiving frightening calls from inside the house… and it’s a terrifying experience. This film takes that to a while other level and it becomes something that is truly memorable and haunting.

For me, Black Christmas did something for me that a movie today would rarely do and that is scare the hell out of me. Granted, compared to now, the jump-out frights aren’t really that scary today but the phone calls… those are something else. I don’t know how to describe them other than: disturbing, loud, perverted and crazy. Every time the killer talked he impersonated several different people including a little kid, an old mother, the heroine and her boyfriend among others. It was so frightening. And, if that’s not enough, you never really see the killer other then his figure in the shadows and the one eye of his that happens to be in the light. It’s really frightening.

Overall, this was a great slasher movie and in the general scheme of slasher films… this movie is ranking in the top 5, if not the top 10. This movie has such an intense atmosphere and some great killings, not to mention the really spine cringing phone calls that are made. The remake of Black Christmas (titled Black Xmas) didn’t even try to nail the brutality and tone that this one perfected. The cast was amazing and it’s on overall great achievement in horror cinema. If you are a slasher/horror fan, then you need to see this movie.


cockney0_1 said...

You nailed it. The overall atmosphere of the movie cannot be understated, and for a modern comparison I would recommend The House of the Devil for sheer tension. Avoid the Black Xmas remake as it's shite.

Chris (cockney0_1)

Kyle Scott said...

My all time favourite slasher, alongside the mighty Halloween. You've inspired me to review this myself. It has, as you p[ointed out, an atmosphere that is very hard to pin down. Its magical. One of the few films that scares the crap out of me to this day. Great review, brother.

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