Thursday, May 7, 2009

Black Christmas (1974)

Fear 5/5
Gore 1/5
Entertainment 5/5
Creepiness 5/5

A group of sorority girls field obscene phone calls late one night with a man on the other end being overly perverse and sexual in nature. At first the girls laugh it off, thinking that its just one of the fraternity houses playing a prank. When the man on the other end starts talking maniacally in different voices, the girls freak out a little and hang up. With far more on their minds, they return to their holiday partying, where mass quantities are consumed and libations abound.

One of the girls walks upstairs to retire early for the evening. As she heads into her room, we notice that her closet door is ajar. She hangs up her coat and as she turns to walk away, her head is enveloped by the plastic wrap that is used to house her dry cleaning. After being suffocated, her body is dragged upstairs into the attic where its promptly placed into a rocking chair. And the dirty phone calls continue.

The real highlight of the film are the girls. The always beautiful Olivia Hussey plays a girl who's recently got knocked up by her boyfriend and has broken things off with him. On top of that, she's told him that she is going to have an abortion and that he has no say whatsoever in the proceedings. Margot Kidder plays the alcoholic comic relief and dispenses great lines left and right. Just check out this tasty bit (in a totally random conversation when she's drunk): 'Did you know, this is a very little known fact, but... did you know that there's a certain species of turtle that... there's a certain species of turtle that can screw for three days without stopping. You don't believe me, do you? Well, I mean, how could I make something like that up?' Genius.

So after the umpteenth phone call and after the caretaker of the sorority house has also gone missing, the police begin to think that the ex of the girl who's knocked her up is their prime suspect as he's been extremely ticked off since the break-up, not approving of the abortion and all. One night, as the girl returns home, she's alerted by the police that the ex is on his way over to the house. She arms herself with a fireplace poker and ends up killing him when he breaks into the house. She goes into shock and is carried upstairs by the police where she's laid into bed, completely comatose. The camera pans out, we see the sorority sister with the plastic bag around her head rocking back and forth in the chair, and as a cop stands post outside, the phone rings.....

Not much by way of gore or blood (in fact there is very little blood) but high on the tense and emotional thriller factor, Black Christmas is an effective and subtle horror movie. Much like Halloween, its first person point of view is what really creeps you out as the viewer and the fact that you never find out who the killer is, is also pretty terrifying. Often credited as the grand kick-off of the slasher genre, Black Christmas is truly a masterpiece. Well written, well acted, and just an all around spooky good time. And the multiple scenes where you see the girl who's head is wrapped and she's rocking back and forth in her chair, are also extremely effective and creepy.

Cortez the Killer


Complaint Dept said...

5 out of 5 across the board? Really? I was underwhelmed by this. I remember seeing it when I was little and not being scared. I rented it about a year ago and felt the same way. Kind of a dud. But hey, that's cool.

Cortez the Killer said...

Not totally across the board as there was very little gore. But in terms of a simple yet effective horror flick, this delivered the goods.