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Black Christmas (1974)

DVD Cover (Somerville House)
Movie Connections:
Black Christmas
> Black Christmas (1974)
> Black Christmas (2006)
Genres / Traits:
Horror, Slasher Film, Christmas
Director:
Bob Clark Bob Clark
Starring:
Olivia Hussey Olivia Hussey
Keir Dullea Keir Dullea
Margot Kidder Margot Kidder
John Saxon John Saxon
Marian Waldman Marian Waldman

7.1 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: April 21, 2006
Soon after this film was released, director Bob Clark had a conversation with John Carpenter, a conversation which began with Carpenter telling Clark how much he enjoyed this film. Carpenter asked Clark if he planned to make a sequel, to which Clark said absolutely not... however, he did tell Carpenter what would happen in the storyline if he ever changed his mind. The sequel would begin with the serial killer locked up in a mental institution after the events in this film took place, but he would manage to escape to rack up an even higher body count. Since this movie centered around Christmas, he thought that it would be a good idea to set the sequel around another holiday: Halloween. Four years later, Carpenter released a little-known film that some of you may have possibly heard of entitled, oh yeah, Halloween. So, in a sense, this could be considered as the unofficial prequel to one of the most popular movie franchises of all time. Interested yet?

It all begins with a group of ladies at a sorority house having a final Christmas party before going home for the holidays. During the party, they receive a rather nasty phone call, but they brush it off as some pervert attempting to get his rocks off at their expense and they think nothing more of it. The next day, most of the girls in the house head home, with the exception of Jess (Olivia Hussey), Barb (Margot Kidder), and a couple of other ladies who don't have a huge part in the story. Things take a turn for the worse, however, when a man who identifies himself as Mr. Harrison (James Edmond) shows up and explains that his daughter, a member of this sorority, was supposed to meet him and go home with him for the holidays... but she never showed up. As the ladies, along with Jess' slightly-insane boyfriend Peter (Keir Dullea), house-mother Mrs. Mac (Marion Waldman), and police lieutenant Fuller (John Saxon), attempt to figure out whatever happened to the missing girl, the phone calls continue... and with each one, they get more and more threatening and start hitting a little close to home with what is being said.

As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, this movie was the inspiration for one of the most well-known horror films of all time. However, that's not the only popular film that drew inspiration from the storyline found here. I'm a bit leery of mentioning this other film, however, as to do so would spoil one of the final twists of this film. So then, I won't mention the film by name, but I will put a link to it in this paragraph. Seeing the title of this other film is guaranteed to spoil the twist ending of tonight's presentation, so if you have any interest whatsoever in checking it out, don't click. Sound good? Don't say I didn't warn you if you decide to click and ruin the ending for yourself.

Now then, that's two very well-known horror films that took inspiration from this one (take my word on the popularity of the second if you didn't click), so it should go without saying that Clark put together a damned fine film. The poster tag-line of this film reads "If this movie doesn't make your skin crawl, it's on too tight", and truer words have never been written. This is thanks in large part to the scares and the way that they're delivered. Here, the story focuses more on the psychological freak-out type of scares than the straight-up "BOO!" ones or the mindless slasher types that the other films of the time were putting out, and kids, let me tell you something... the film has aged gracefully. Sure, you can tell the age of the film by the clothing and such, but this is not one of those films where you'll ask yourself "They thought that was scary back then!?" when the credits begin to roll. It's just as unnerving today as it was on the day of its release, and not many films can say that (especially for your heavily-jaded reviewer).

Horror / thriller fans should give this one some of the love that it deserves. It's not exactly a hard-to-find movie and nor is it extremely underground, but it's a shame how many people have yet to see it and witness one of the films that introduced a number of the horror elements that we now take for granted. This is not a film to be missed, and I can't recommend it enough. 9/10.
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Tristan #1: Tristan - added 04/21/2006, 02:01 AM
This is one of the few horror movies that has actually scared me. That eye in the door is fucking terrifying.
bluemeanie #2: bluemeanie - added 04/22/2006, 01:57 PM
"Black Christmas" is a great slasher flick -- one of the best. Bob Clark is certainly no John Carpenter when it comes to pacing and execution, but he still has his strong suits as a horror director -- a shame he hasn't done more with the genre. I remember seeing "Black Christmas" and "Silent Night, Deadly Night" on the same night, when I was younger, and I remember loving both of them to death. This film is a perfect model for any director who wants to attempt a slasher flick. However, if we really want to give credit where credit is due -- Sean S. Cunningham had been doing low budget indie slasher flicks for a couple years before "Friday the 13th", so he really helped inaugurate the genre. 8/10.
waxtadpole3657 #3: waxtadpole3657 - added 10/28/2009, 12:39 AM
I just watched this a couple hours ago, and hot damn if that wasn't one of the finest slasher movies I've ever seen. And fucking creepy to boot. The phone calls from the killer are fucking creepy as hell. And as Tristan said, the eye in the fucking door made me shit my pants. And I love a downer ending. XD 9.5/10
Mal #4: Mal - added 12/14/2009, 06:51 PM
I've seen the remake but I really wanna see this one because its the orginal and I love the the phone call sences when the Killer calls them, there scary and twisted but your also wanna know why he's calling an Who was Agnes, and what happened to the baby, the movie was one the first slashers films that inspired others and one the first to give to ask the audiance question and let them draw there own conclusion
Crispy #5: Crispy - added 03/07/2010, 07:29 PM
This is where everyone gets pissed off, but fuck it. This was a chore to sit through. Yes, the eye scene everyone is gushing about WAS very nicely done, but all in all, I'm thinking no.
Tobes #6: Tobes - added 03/08/2010, 08:13 AM
I honestly thought this movie was complete shit, but can't remember offhand of why I did, since I saw it almost 10 years ago at this point.

How can you make an entire movie based off of the stupid "The phone calls are coming from upstairs!" story?
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