On your travels through the backless dark closet that is the world of classic horror movies you may have heard that John Carpenter’s 1978 classic, Halloween was the first definitive seasonal slasher film. I don’t know card games, but I know a little something about horror and I call ‘Bullshit!’ Fucking bullshit, in fact!
Released four years prior, even said to have influenced Carpenter himself in the making of Halloween, this bitch right here, Black Christmas is the motherfucking pioneer of pioneers. Its unnerving phone call sequences and terrifying climax even inspired the genre-rejuvenating Scream franchise directed by the late and oh so great Wes Craven.
So now that we’ve got that shit straight, let’s get this fucker started.
A sorority house receives obscene and frightening phone calls from an unknown assailant. Dismissing them as empty threats, the sisters are soon proven wrong as the macabre events of the following day unfold.
Acting props have to be given to Marian Waldman who is hilarious as Mrs. Mac, the foul-mouthed Housemother, and of course, Margot Kidder as the colourful, racy, boozy character of sister Barb. I’m fond of Kidder so I hate to say it that she just looks – and sounds – too old to be a sorority sister. The fact that she has to appear drunk with a little messy make-up doesn’t help matters either.
Here we also find good old reliable John Saxon as our trusty police presence a decade before his part as Nancy’s lieutenant father in the aforementioned Wes Craven’s 1984 classic, A Nightmare on Elm Street. He never quite catches Billy or Freddy, but at least he tries!
What makes the villain of this movie so damn creepy is that despite being hidden by neither black giallo gloves, a rubber William Shatner mask nor a tipped fedora, he remains completely unseen by us as viewers. Appearing as a pair of clawed bare hands, or a glaring maniacal eye shrouded in heavy shadow, we also see through his eyes as we witness the unstable monster that he truly is as he screams, rips, smashes and destroys everything that crosses his path.
Ironically there is something comforting and predictable about a masked night-stalker with a knife – a plan of survival may fall into place at some point – as opposed to running into this unpredictable creature that will tear you to shreds like a wild animal as soon as he lays his maddened eyes on you.
I’ll admit I had to compare both DVD and Blu-ray versions just to make sure 101 Films wasn’t pulling my leg. And I was wrong, there really is a difference. But I swear, sometimes it feels like there are some bastards out there that just want to make a quick buck by ripping off a DVD with a decent quality picture.
I’m unaware as to why they couldn’t get this release together for a 40th Anniversary, Suspiria (1977) style, but there was at least a Black Christmas reunion panel held at the 2014 Fan Expo in Canada to celebrate such an occasion, footage of which is just one of a handful of Special Features that 101 Films has provided for us. This panel comes complete with two accompanying documentaries, a full-sized movie poster, a reversible cover in the vein of Arrow and 88 Films, and more.