Black Christmas (1974)
Uh oh, looks like Spooky October missed most of October. Hey, what can we say? We were too ambitious and real life things got in the way. But we’ve got a few more spooky reviews for you to cap this year - here’s one from what was scheduled to be our Psycho Killa week.
A: This is one of the first horror movies I watched at my mother’s suggestion. I was 12 or 13 at the time and I’m actually surprised that she allowed me to watch this movie because of all the filthy things that the caller says to the hot young girls on the phone.
I’ve always liked this movie. It’s subtle, creepy, and an exercise in good horror movie writing. It’s a slow and gradual burn. The sorority girls are celebrating Christmas together before they all go home for the holidays. During the party, they get a fucking weird phone call from a nut who says filthy things before saying that he wants to kill them. They hang up, nervous, but still calm because hey, it’s just some weirdo making an obscene phone call somewhere else. Little do they know that the killer is already in the attic. Ahh! He kills Clare who’s heading home for Christmas the next day without any of her housemates knowing. When her Dad comes and she can’t be found, they start to get worried and go to the police regarding these fucked up phone calls they keep getting. Meanwhile Jess (Olivia Hussey who is beautiful and a great actress and I love her) finds out that her boyfriend knocked her up and she wants to get an abortion. But he’s a little unbalanced and this doesn’t really go over well.
I know it sounds complicated, but trust me it works. The subplots merge seamlessly and lead to the crazy conclusion. It lets the scares build so that the audience can get to know the characters. These girls aren’t faceless bimbos. For example, Margot Kidder plays a drunk bitch and she’s amazing.
I also love how this movie, filmed in 1974, presents abortion as a reasonable and rational decision. Jess says that she has her whole life ahead of her and she doesn’t want a baby right now. When her boyfriend offers to marry her so she can still reach her goals, she declines because she doesn’t want to marry him. You would NEVER see that in a movie today and it helps make Black Christmas more modern and realistic, despite the dated wardrobe and production design.
This is a great film and one that helped establish the slasher movie genre (it came out 4 years before Halloween). It’s awesome to see women in a horror/slasher film as real people instead of sexualized victims. This is definitely one of my favourite horror films and I highly recommend it.
S: I had heard a lot about this movie, so imagine my surprise when it turned out everything everyone had told me was about the remake and didn’t really have anything to do with the original. I liked this movie, it’s got an old school/first time slasher vibe, and it’s SO Toronto. Not the murder stuff, but pretty much everything else - I’m positive I’ve walked by most of the buildings they used numerous times.
Aside from the old time kitsch factor (hullo, giant fur coat, I love you), there’s not much to tell you. It’s a straight up slasher flick with minimum rhyme or reason. The murderer prank calls a sorority house where he says some super filthy stuff (I was actually surprised), and then starts killing off house members. Olivia Hussey, who is fucking gorg, has an inkling it might be her crazy bananas boyfriend/baby daddy Peter. Well, I guess that’s the gist of it. It’s not confusing, it’s just not held together very well aside from “psycho in house”.
That said, it’s fun. It’s about Christmas (not my favourite holiday) and people being Halloween (my favourite holiday) style murdered. There’s a creepy attic, a drunk house mother, an awkward dad, a laughing detective. Oh, and a terrifying eyeball in door crack scene that gave me a bit of pause. But the highlights for me were definitely the dirty, dirty phone calls, Olivia Hussey’s face and Margot Kidder being a drunk bitch.