Black Christmas (1974) Review

This is one of the grandaddies of the slasher film, but is handled with some intelligence behind it. And did John Carpenter watch this before filming Halloween? As other people have stated that film, When A Stranger Calls and any number of other films seem directly influenced by this. It features a virtual blueprint to many horror films that came after. The old dark house. Holiday setting. The killer’s POV. Multiple modes of dispatching victims. A sorority house setting. Obscene phone calls. The Ending That is Not YET The Ending. The victims seeming to be chosen because of their behavior. The blackly humorous and clever transitions from scene to scene. The discovery of past victims by the heroine. Stupid decision making skills by the heroine. An inconclusive ending.

Bob Clark was ahead of his time. Even with the explicitly frank language. Everyone knows his more well known Christmas film, but for a 70s horror film this isn’t too bad. It holds up rather well, also. There were some really great actors in this film (and one of the Kings of B-movies John Saxon). Margot Kidder is great here as the girl with irreverent behavior. I actually think she’s better here than in her bigger roles she went on to. And Keir Dullea! How he went from 2001 to this is beyond me. Not that this is a bad film. It’s not.

The real treat is Olivia Hussey who I’ll always remember from Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet. There will never be another Juliet like her, but I… digress. Anyway. There are some occasional gaps in logic, but nothing that can’t be overlooked. The cinematography is pretty dynamic for a classic 70s flick. This is rarely mentioned with the classics of the horror genre, but it should be. It’s the quintessential low budget horror flick and very well made. A MUST SEE for horror fans.

4.5 of 5


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