Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Chiller Classics presents: Black Christmas (1974)

Greetings, my friends.  It's time once again to educate you readers who may have missed some of the classic horror growing up, and to bring back memories for those who have.  I hope Christmas has been a pleasant one for those of you who celebrate it, I know mine has been fun.  And befitting the time of year, as the title indicates, I am going to talk about Black Christmas, a flick that wasn't really held in high acclaim when first released, but over time grew to be a much loved classic.

The story is as follows: it's the Christmas season, and a sorority house of women are celebrating with a late night party.  The phone rings and a strange voice is on the other end, making various disturbing noises and obscene talking.  One of the girls yell at the voice and, after being threatened by him, hangs up the phone.  From then on, the house continues to get disturbing phone calls.  However, one by one, the girls start getting picked off by the man behind the phone calls.  A couple of the girls go to the police after one of their sorority sisters is missing for some time, but the police think it's just a prank and ignore them.  Later, they finally look into it, but not before more deaths occur.  Can the police find and stop the killer before more women die?

I am a big fan of this flick, and recently I made it a tradition of watching this as well as the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol.  This is considered to be one of the first, if not THE first of the slasher flicks, predating Halloween by four years.  You should be warned though, this is not a fast-paced movie.  There is a lot of emphasis on suspenseful moments, and heavy on character development.  The good thing about that however, is that you get amazing atmosphere, and characters that you care about and want to see survive the duration of the movie, a trait you rarely see nowadays.  I've lost count of flicks with protagonists I can't stand and want to see killed.  That's not how the so-called "good guys" should be portrayed.  You're supposed to like them and want them to live.  And Black Christmas pulls that off properly.

As well, the dialogue is surprisingly light-hearted in many scenes, with some genuinely funny lives delivered.  But when bad things go down, that heavy atmosphere re-emerges fluidly, really toying with your mental state throughout.  And, if some of you recall, this was filmed before shaky-cam came and ruined many movies for me.  Back in those days, the camerawork was something to actually appreciate, and didn't make you want to look away from the screen. 

So, for those of you who haven't seen this classic gem yet, do so as soon as possible.  And for those of you who haven't seen it in a long time, I suggest the same for you.  It is Black Christmas after all, and 'tis the season.

Movie Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Chiller Classic rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

-Ken Bucklesworth, full of Christmas cheer

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