What's this you say? Horror?? At Christmas??!! Are you mad!!?? Well, perhaps I am...but we all go a little mad sometimes. And that's what Bob Clark's Canadian chiller Black Christmas (1974) feels like, a Christmas tale gone mad. It is a simple little yarn about a sorority house besieged by crazed phone calls and strange disappearances over the Christmas holidays and one could almost say it follows Halloween's template to a T...that is, if Halloween had come first. No friends, Black Christmas is the original holiday slasher film (if it can ever be qualified as a slasher...its hardly bloody) and it certainly inspired Mr. Carpenter to make his first opus. Oh, and just to clarify, the crazed caller of the house is known only as 'Billy' and we only know this from his cryptic last line of the picture..."Agnes....Itzme...billy". Who is Agnes? Who is Billy? Does the film answer any of these questions? Hell no, and why should it? The film is only concerned with terrorizing its cast of female characters (which includes Olivia Hussey, Margot Kidder, and Andrea Martin) and getting us out before too much of the mystery is given away. Its really quite remarkable, though I can say that everytime I watch it I do get a case of horror blue balls. I want to know who Billy and Agnes were, and what's with the baby they keep talking about?...which seems to be linked to the idea that Olivia Hussey's character wants to a) have an abortion and b) has a whacked out boyfriend. Is he Billy? No he couldn't be because....and then there was the...and the....wait, what??? Yeah, that's kinda the feeling you get at the end...but you know what, its kind of a genius stroke. Every time I watch this movie I'm left in agonizing suspense because I don't know what's going on, or if Olivia is really safe at the end and it gives you a reason to get the willies right before you turn out the lights to go to bed. Some crimes are never solved and explained in life, and I believe that's what this film is trying to tell us (either that, or they held out for a sequel that was never made). The remake in 2006 attempted to answer these questions (and did a fine job I think) but not without sacrificing the original's tightly plotted tenseness with cliche-ridden and nonsensical shenanigans. Some people try to play the remake off as a black comedy, like its supposed to be bad and cliche ridden to make us have fun, and I've seen it twice now and to me it just plays as a bad movie...and not one that's trying to be bad for the sake of fun. However, that's just my two cents. Get freaked out by the trailer below and watch for an edit tonight where I tell you how spooked I am. Also, I really hope it snows tonight...there's nothing spookier than watching this movie at night while outside snowflakes fall softly and silently. Gotta love the juxtoposition of the silent and the violent (ew, I just rhymed).
Late update: I'm sitting here as the credits roll and the phone on the screen continues to ring...telling us that Olivia Hussey still isn't safe from her attacker as Black Christmas ends. Its amazing how you can watch a movie several times and still be affected by it...and this is no exception. I will probably have chilling nightmares tonight...cool! :)