BLACK CHRISTMAS (1974)
DATE RELEASED: October 11, 1974
DATE WATCHED: November 2011
WHY NOW? As the Charlie Brown tune (and Royal Tenebaums soundtrack highlight) goes, Christmastime is here. And yet again, I feel like a horrible horror fangirl for never having seen this yuletide-themed slasher.
WHY NOT THEN? I wasn’t even on my 15-year-old’s mom’s mind (and even if I was, she wouldn’t have seen it anyway — she hates everything horror). Then, after I was born and old enough to choose my own movies at the videostore, I could never get her or my dad to watch it with me. Meanwhile, they made me rewatch It’s a Wonderful Life year after year after year after year …
- Classic, stalk-and-slash kills all done from inside a 1970s sorority house on Christmas Eve.
- Cameos from Canadian stars that I recognize but couldn’t name on command.
- Lots of establishing shots of the University of Toronto campus.
- The original Lois Lane successfully fending for herself, sans Superman.
- Something to do with a dead girl in a rocking chair.
- John “Nancy’s dad in Nightmare on Elm St.” Saxon!
- Is that Andrea Martin?!
- Olivia Hussey being the most annoying Survivor Girl of all-time. (Sorry, Hussey hussies.)
- Classic stalk-and-slash kills done from inside a 1970s sorority house on Christmas Eve and from the POV of the never-unmasked, possibly asthmatic murderer.
- The original Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) unsuccessfully fending for herself, sans Superman.
- A whole lot of way-obscene phone calls that get traced back to another phone within the house. It may seem totally overdone now, especially after When a Stranger Calls and such, but this was groundbreaking, and thus extremely chilling, back then. Especially if you were not familiar with the “Babysitter” urban legend.
- So much to do with a dead girl in a rocking chair beside the attic window. So much!
- That grainy, ’70s cinematography that makes everything seem scarier and more snuff-like to me. (See also: my inability to watch the first half of the original Last House on the Left without every single light in the house on.)
- A nice, open-ended finale that will stay with you for at least the twelve days of laziness following Christmas.
ONE NIGHT-IN STAND OR SECOND DATE POTENTIAL? Not to get all Ted Mosby, but after just one viewing, I am happy to admit that I LOVED this. It’s blends two of my favourite genres (overly holiday-themed movies and straight-up slashers) without going overboard with either one. Plus, it’s genuinely creepy, something that I don’t think can be said with most modern horror movies, which seem to prefer vaguely ghost-like figures and torture devices to the heavy breathing psycho you know could very well live next door to you. Or in your attic.