Monday, April 13, 2009

Black Christmas (1974)

There are many horror movies out there that give you a genuine, but not particularly deep scare. After leaving the theater you are minimally affected. There are some that really disturb you - To the point of turning on the lights at night, checking behind corners, etc. Then there are those few that creep you out so badly you feel like you need to take a shower immediately after viewing them. Black Christmas is the last two examples in one movie. Black Christmas is a real shocker.

Black Christmas (1974) sorority house

When I picked up Black Christmas I wasn’t expecting much, especially from a 1970s slasher movie. After watching it though, I believe that it is one of the most frightening movie that I have ever seen. This movie clearly paved the way for all the Jasons, Freddies, Michaels, and others who followed in the slasher genre. It has been said that it is tough to beat the original slasher flicks, and in this situation it is very true.

Black Christmas (1974) killer's eye

Black Christmas begins with a party at a sorority house to mark the beginning of Christmas break. While the party is going on, we see an unknown man (from a first-person viewpoint, ala Halloween) sneak into the house via the attic. Within minutes he has already claimed his first victim, Claire (Lynne Griffin) with a very shocking bag-over-the-head murder (really disturbing) before dragging her body to the attic and putting it right in the window for all to see. The body remains there for the duration of the film!

The sorority sisters contact the police when Claire's father shows up concerned about his daughter. The police are initially not too worried about Claire's disappearance, but eventually organize a search party to find the girl. Instead they find a different girl dead in the park, and the news sends the whole town into a panic.

Black Christmas (1974) on the phoneWe now discover that the sorority has been plagued by obscene calls for quite some time, and they gradually begin to get weirder and worse with each occurrence. Meanwhile the sorority sisters are being murdered one by one in horrible ways by the mysterious man who has taken up residence in the attic.

The police name the seemingly imbalanced Peter, boyfriend of sorority sister Jess (Olivia may know her as Juliet from Romeo and Juliet), as a prime suspect in the strange happenings. But is Peter really the killer and the one behind the calls? It is true that when Jess tells him of not wanting marriage and of her plans for an abortion he does not take it very well, but is this motivation for murder?

Black Christmas (1974) bloody handThe police finally decide to put a wiretap on the phone to try to catch the mysterious obscene caller, only to discover that the calls are coming from inside the house!

The creepy atmosphere in Black Christmas is built perfectly to create a sense of the unnerving calm of the dead of winter, a flawless atmosphere and setting for this seriously disturbing horror movie. The killer is genuinely creepy and the obscene calls that he makes will truly disturb you. Black Christmas is frightening from the opening scene right up until the surprising ending.

Black Christmas (1974) plastic bag
Black Christmas is really a groundbreaking movie in the horror industry in terms of the slasher elements and disturbing sequences. This makes me wonder: If Black Christmas is still so effective today, what were audiences thinking back in 1974? They must have been scared out of their minds!

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