Monday, December 30, 2013

Yuletide Classics: Black Christmas (1974)

Last Christmas, I gave you my heart.  This year, you kill me and display me in a window.  Those WHAM songs sure are dark, huh?  Today's film is Black Christmas- the original version.  Why this one and not the 2006 Remake?  Well, I have to have somewhere to go next year, don't I?  Besides, it is more fun to see if I can get a rile out of Maynard, that wacky Austie.  So who doesn't know about Black Christmas?  Show of hands.  Okay, so a few of you don't know about it.  Christmas is the tale of a mysterious killer in a girl's dormitory who incites terror in a small town.  It is notable for being the first film to really exploit- for lack of a better word- a Holiday for a Horror/Thriller Film.  It preceded a number of great/famous Horror films like Halloween and Silent Night, Deadly Night.  There's an Urban Legend that John Carpenter's Classic started out as a Sequel to this film.  As noted by Bob Clark in a 2004 Interview, he worked with Carpenter on a film and they discussed the idea of a Sequel.  Clark said 'no,' but also said that they would have called it 'Halloween' if they did make one.  In Carpenter's defense, Clark says that he did write his own Screenplay and that the idea to do the film came from the Studio.  Clark does, however, say that the whole premise of When A Stranger Calls came from his movie.  He sounded a little bitter- not that I blame him.  So does the film hold up to modern scrutiny or is it just a dull, historical landmark?  To find out my opinion, read on...
A Dormitory is bothered around Christmas by a series of creepy, moaning calls from a stranger.  They're a bit worried.

Fun Fact: one of the people doing the calls is Clark himself.  Consider that the Director of A Christmas Story and Baby Geniuses did this.
In a shockingly-early (for the time, at least) moment, the unseen killer attacks one of the girls and chokes her with a plastic bag.  He subsequently displays her body in a window.

It's a bit of a conceit that nobody ever notices it through the window, regardless of how thick/glossy they may be.
Olivia Hussey is our lead/future Final Girl (before that was fully a Trope) and begins to get suspicious of her boyfriend's abrasive behavior.
Holy Randomness- Art Hindle is in this movie!  For a guy I'd never heard of a year ago, I keep seeing him in random places.  Weird.
John Saxon is the Inspector and he plays the role well.  It's a shame that the film's set-up lets him do not much more than act like he's in charge and talk on the phone.
As the body count slowly rises, Hussey continues to get calls from the mysterious stranger.  What is a girl to do?
Oh shit- someone killed Lois Lane.  If Injustice is anything to go by, shit is about to go down!
In The End, Hussey kills her boyfriend- since she thinks that he's the killer.  She's very traumatized by the whole experience.  Yeah, I would hope so!
As it turns out, however, he wasn't the killer.  The real one is still hiding in the Attic with his first two victims.  The Police haven't checked it yet, but they will soon.  The film ends there, however, showing that you don't always get closure.  The End.
It's a little slow, but it kind of works that way.  For a modern audience, it might seem tedious at times.  I get that.  I like to think of it as a product of its times and how films were made.  If you look at it that way, it's great.  Besides, let's be honest, today's ADD film audience could use a film that takes things slow and sets the mood.  We don't always need jump scares or creepy children.  The best part of the movie for me is the use of P.O.V. shots.  That works great with the music- mostly Christmas Carols- to set a nice, creepy mood.  A lot of people may ask for more gore or scares.  That's fine.  For better or worse, the 2006 Remake gives the killer back-story, has jump scares galore and a lot more blood.  Some people like it better- that's fine.  Until I actually watch the Remake, I'll hold my tongue.  If you're a fan of slow-burn, atmospheric Horror, you owe it to yourself to watch this movie.  It may not be everyone's favorite movie, but it does feature a guy that looks like Gene Shalit.  That counts for alot, right?
Next up, let me ring in the New Year with a Jamie Lee Curtis movie.  The only thing worse than the Y2K Virus is a film that everyone likes to forget.  Stay tuned...

1 comment:

  1. The plot holes in this movie have always been too much for me...