Saturday, 8 December 2012

Black Christmas (1974)

"Black Christmas" (1974, Bob Clark, Film Funding Limited of Canada, Ambassador Film, Warner Bros, World Cinema) is the original Canadian holiday stalk-and-slash from the 70s. It was remade in 2006 and you'll find my review of that version a few spaces down from here.

It's Christmas time at the Sorority House and all the girls are having a little party before they all depart for their respective family/whatever holidays. The girls' are concerned, however, when they begin to receive some pretty freaky prank calls - I've never heard the 'C' word so many times in a film before!

The girls hold their festivities regardless of the calls, but it isn't until one of their number goes missing that they start to think that someone may be watching them.

I enjoyed this film a lot more than the remake. The characters were generally more likeable and there was a lot of funny moments dotted throughout. I really enjoyed the house-mother and the lieutenant characters, who added something more to a generally simple plot. However, I would hasten to add that this is a B-Movie Holiday slasher, and should be approached with suitable expectations. But, considering that this film is a very early example of its sub-genre it's damn good.

Unlike the remake, this film is not full of over the top gore, although there are some good visual on-screen kills. I'm sure it was shocking in the 70s, but when compared to such films as "The Driller Killer", it doesn't go to the same extremes. The stalker is enjoyably sinister, though and his phone calls are disturbing.

The 2006 version spent a lot of time trying to explain how our killer, Billy, ended up the way he is. The 1974 film doesn't go into any explanation of Billy or his history. I like this. A good back story can be an excellent addition to a film, but in this instance I feel that it wasn't needed and Clark did well to avoid it. Billy is a killer with some mental issues. There's, of course, more to it but we don't know what, just as his victims and the police know nothing of it either. Where Morgan went off the rails with the remake, for me, was the over analysis of Billy's character.

With some good effects for a low budget film from the 70s, a B-movie atmosphere and some recognisable faces (Margot Kidder - known for her portrayal of Lois Lane and you may recognise her from "The Amityville Horror" and Andrea Martin - who is present in the remake of this film as the house-mother), this film is an entertaining watch and worth a try if you're looking for some campy Christmas horror.

[Image: Film Funding Limited of Canada & World Cinema]