Black Christmas (1974)
I apologise that it’s been taking a while for me to get these out recently…but anyway, today we have a film that is widely considered to be the first to include those classic slasher aspects, although it would be a lie to say they were perfected. However, this film is a very important one in the horror genre for that reason…it’s Bob Clark’s 1974 film, Black Christmas!!
If I’m being perfectly honest, Black Christmas isn’t a ‘must-watch’ but I think that it is definitely worth the watch for some very unique kills and a very nice dark atmosphere. The film centres around a sorority house during the festive period who begin to receive strange, threatening phone calls and then, as we’re all now familiar with, the killer begins picking them off one by one and as I said, definitely has some of the most interesting and unique killing methods of any slasher that I’ve ever watched. It’s a very simple premise, as most slashers are, but that is what’s great about them…they don’t require a lot of thought…they’re entertaining and easy-watching films and we have Black Christmas to thank for starting them off.
I’m not going to go on and on about this one because, although it is an important one in creating one of my favourite sub-genres in all of cinema, it’s not really one that sticks with you…that’s not to say it is a bad film, it’s certainly not…but it’s not particularly memorable.
The performances aren’t bad by any means, but they’re nothing special. Olivia Hussey as Jess is perfectly fine, as is Keir Dullea as Peter. Margot Kidder as Barb gives arguably the most entertaining performance of them all but its not the performances that make this film worth watching.
The atmosphere, like so many others on this journey, is what makes this worth the watch. The phone calls are incredibly creepy as they ascend from mysterious heavy breathing to terrifying, obscene yelling. The killing scenes are also incredibly intense as the killer, who just so happens to be hiding in the sorority house, manages to lure his victims towards him, eventually suffocating them in large, plastic, dry cleaning bags…I told you it was fairly unique.
Anyway, like with most others, I won’t give too much away as I don’t want to remove any of the intensity from those of you who may go on to watch this one now but I will say again that it’s definitely worth the watch, if only for the knowledge that it’s one of, if not the first of its kind, but it is more than just that…it’s a very tense, dark and entertaining slasher that any fan should watch.
It doesn’t however, win my prize of top Canadian slasher though (as small a prize as that may be). That award goes to a film from 1981 that has certainly stuck with me…funnily enough, it also centres around a holiday.
Anyway, you should watch Black Christmas…hopefully it can stick in your memory longer than it stuck in mine. Next up on our ever continuing journey we have a true classic as we get into our first Stephen King adaptation, skipping the year 1975, going straight to ’76. It involves a hell of a lot of blood and a hell of a lot of fire, as well as giving us one of the best jump-scares in horror history…you definitely know it now!!
The Journey Continues