Its Christmas eve and its time to conclude my Christmas horror films series here. We end on the best Christmas Horror film ever, Black Christmas. Directed by Bob Clark, who would later go on to make another Christmas classic called A Christmas Story, Black Christmas is a suspensful horror that really started the slasher movies even though it was filmed years before Halloween.
The story is a very well written and suspenseful one that’s something of a mystery as well. It starts out as your basic slasher flick, a sorority of girls enjoying the holidays. A crazed killer hiding in their house and lots of disturbing prank phone calls. The killer is never seen. He’s shot much like that of a killer from giallo films in the first person so we only ever see his hands or parts of his body. As you can imagine the girls get picked off one by one finally only leaving the heroine played by the beautiful Olivia Hussey who suspects the killer is actually her boyfriend. There’s a wonderful subplot about Hussey’s character being pregnant and she wants to abort it. Her boyfriend is pissed about it and we’re led to believe he’s stalking the house and making the disturbing phone calls. When the local detective, played by the always great John Saxon, determines that the calls are coming from inside the house there’s a big showdown between the cops, our heroine and her boyfriend who ends up being at the house at the wrong time. But everyone thinks they have their killer and they leave the shocked Olivia Hussey locked up in the house to rest. Of course she’s not alone in the house. The killer is still inside.
Black Christmas is the real proto slasher film. this movie, while short on gore, is high on suspense. Even though the story takes place over a few days the suspense still mounts and your kept guessing as to who the killer is. Its clear how this movie influenced John Carpenter who would go on to direct Halloween 4 years later. Bob Clark tells the story that Carpenter came to him after seeing Black Christmas and asked him how he would do a sequel if he did one. Clark said he would have the killer come home on Halloween night. Carpenter of course went on to make a movie about a killer who comes home on Halloween night. Bob Clark never thought that Carpenter ripped off his idea but its clear how he and his movie truly helped to make Halloween the classic slasher film that it is.
A couple years ago Hollywood tried remaking Black Christmas with very very mixed results. The movie has absolutely no suspense or mystery as to who the killer is. It delves into a new backstory for the killer which is way over the top. There’s buckets of blood, 1 dimensional characters and the abortion subplot has been eliminated for a one about a guy who put his sex tape online with one of the girls in the house. The only improvement made in the remake was that it looked very good. The set design, directing, & production is very clean and pretty. However the story is just a shadow of the original.
For Christmas there’s nothing like the original 1974 proto-slasher Black Christmas. Director Bob Clark also gave us A Christmas Story some years later which is still a classic Christmas flick that get around the clock play on TBS each year. Unfortunately Bob and his son were killed in a car accident by a drunk driver about a year ago. They had been working on a film and were returning home late.
While Bob may be gone his many films will live on forever. I know I’ll be spending Christmas eve with Black Christmas and a Christmas Story every year!