Black Christmas Special Edition (1974) Review
Written by: MacheteMassacre
If this film doesn't make your skin crawl, it's on too tight! True words right on the cover of the box. This film is dark, creepy and even though it was made in the mid 70's, it feels timeless. Maybe not so much the wardrobe or the interior design, but the overall look and feel of the movie and even the characters themselves. Each one has just that, character. This film is arguably the mother of slasher films.
So, the film takes place at a sorority house, Pi Kappa Sig. The girls here are receiving weird and disturbing phone calls, which at first seems harmless...until they start disappearing one at a time. The police are soon tapping the phones, trying to pin point the origin of the phone calls, but where they are coming from is very shocking!
As I stated before, the characters in this film are actually developed. Our main character is Jess (Olivia Hussey), who found out she is pregnant and plans to have an abortion. Her boyfriend Peter (Keir Dullea) wants the opposite. Marriage and the baby. Other residents are the loud mouth Barb (Margot Kidder), her friend Phyl (Andrea Martin), the house mother Mrs. MacHenry (Marian Waldman) who is also a drunk. Now that is just the residents at Pi Kappa Sig. The detective, Lieutenant Kenneth Fuller (the great John Saxon) also plays a major role.
Older movies (Halloween comes to mind) the main character is often played as innocent, free of sex and drugs. In this film, our main character is planning an abortion. A topic that is just as touchy back then as it is today. Now, it's not just the characters that make this film great or make it seem timeless. It's the dialogue itself. The characters don't speak dated and use 70's slang. It really sounds like a normal conversation. But, the thing that really took me by surprise was the tone of the cursing. The first time you hear the killer call, the things he says...it will really take you by surprise.
The film isn't really gory, but with a film like this it's not really a big deal. The first murder, suffocation with a plastic bag, is gore free, but just as satisfying. Black Christmas went for shocking murders over gory, blood filled murders, which in most cases I would be bummed out about it, but this film pulls it and does it well. Oh, and the eyeball peering out from the shadows will keep you haunted for nights.
Director Bob Clark (who also directed A Christmas Story and Porky's) truly made this a black Christmas. It's dark, suspenseful and just down right creepy. You will keep guessing at the identity of the murderer, but you will always be wrong. I read online that originally at the end once the cops leave, Chris was suppose to come into Jess' room and say. "Don't tell Agnes," indicating that he is the murderer. Even, though the killer was played by Frank Mancuso, he was uncredited in this role, which only adds to the mystique of the killer. The voice was done by various cast and crew, including Bob Clark himself. You'll just have to watch this and see.
The Special Edition has a decent amount of bonus features which includes two original scenes with the vocal soundtrack that was recently discovered at the time of it's release. There is also a cool documentary 'The 12 Days of Black Christmas" which consists of interviews with various cast members. Olivia Hussey and Margot Kidder received their own interview section. My favourite was the Midnight Screening Q & A session, because it included the man, John Saxon and Bob Clark, as well as Carl Zittrer. I found it insightful and entertaining.
It's often debated that this film started the slasher fad and not Halloween. Both are great films and it doesn't really matter. I guess it's that this film feels overshadowed by Halloween. Not only is Black Christmas a must see, it is a must own.