A sorority house is terrorized by a stranger who makes frightening phone calls and then murders the sorority sisters during Christmas break.
What can be said about the original Black Christmas that hasn’t been said before? Probably not much but I’m sure the obvious statements such as the “FIRST” slasher movie to turn heads and launch the style into the big leagues. For the die-hard aficionado such as myself knows that this statement is pretty sub-standard but I will say that Black Christmas holds a special place in every horror fan’s heart.
First released in 1974 and then remade in 2006 by Glen Morgan & Dimension Films, the original film has got to be in EVERY person’s horror movie collection. I personally loved the cast of characters that were used in the film, as there was an element of comedy at many times. This is something that I think needs to occur in the slasher genre otherwise I find myself thinking the film isn’t realistic. Taking place inside a sorority house in what I’ve always assumed was Canada (due to the accents on some actors), and also in the dead of winter, Black Christmas wastes no time unveiling the evil that begins to take hold of the house.
We begin by seeing what seems to be a normal little get together of sorority girls having their Christmas soiree. In the midst of their fun they are interrupted by another of what is mentioned as a series of annoying phone calls, and as we all know…We HATE those. As one of the girls listens in we hear a person on the other end breathing heavily and starts to mutter what just sounds like utter nonsense. Cue the house drunk Barb (Kidder) to talk some shit, provoke the caller, and probably is the reason the whole mess began in the first place! Appearing as a POV shot (which I absolutely loved) we see our villain as he maneuvers through the house early on but has finally chosen his first victim.
From there he hides upstairs, we see the famous VHS (or DVD) cover we all know so well, death by dry cleaner plastic… not the way I wanna go out myself. The party dies down, we are left with a grizzly scene of the victim, just sitting there with a little doll… CREEPY! The following day we see that people are starting to notice that one of the girls is missing, mainly her father. We learn there is also some tension from one of the girls and her pianist boyfriend regarding a bun in the over, which is never a good moment. From here the movie begins to unravel with another disappearance of a little girl happening simultaneously in the park nearby. This causes a huge commotion within the community and later they launch a search for both of the girls. During all of this we start to see some amazing drunk scenes with Kidder who I honestly think was legitimately tanked while filming. It’s THAT good! As the search party is out looking for Clare, we see our second victim get the hook… and it’s a pretty tough one… death by crane hook to the head. Now, these kinds of movies are definitely predictable I know, but you just have to understand that if you’re watching this for the first time, it came out in 1974! They were creating the tension here for the first time before the Scream series or Slumber Party Massacre.
SO, now we’re left with 3 girls, 1 killer, and cops that are busy elsewhere except for one “parked” outside the house. We experience more grim death scenes, we learn the police are finally trying to pinpoint our caller and now all hell is breaking loose! Here comes our climax, the police rushing over to the house, the last girl in the house, the killer trying to nail our final girl… the typical standard we see today. Armed with a fireplace poker she is now ready to take on our creep, but we get our strange twist. Police arrive, a bunch of screaming, and then they find the person behind this… Or have we?
The movie leaves us with the cliffhanger ending that most slasher films tend to do us with, the empty house, the quietness of the mood, and the famous twist of fate. I am completely OK with this because again, this is a classic flick. Anytime afterwards, I can cite plenty of movies that have taken cues from this masterpiece. With recent movies such as The Sleeper (2012) following this blueprint almost to a T, you can see that Black Christmas is one of those movies that will definitely stand-alone for years to come. People have definitely taken this genre and made it their own but I truly feel that this is one of the better sorority house killer movies… if not the original.
Black Christmas (1974)