Last summer I was going through a sleepless night, so I decided to surf the TV guide. I stopped when I saw that the Space network was showing the 1974 version of Black Christmas. After watching the remake and being a fan of cult classic horror movies, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to watch one of the original slasher films.
Black Christmas is an independent movie filmed in Toronto. The movie is based on the urban legend The Baby Sitter and the Man Upstairs. It follows a group of sorority girls who receive multiple threatening calls from an unknown man whom they dubbed “the moaner”. Mysterious murders start to occur around the sorority house and girls from the house start to go missing.
Black Christmas is an old movie but it still has plenty of frightening jump scares. The killer is usually shot from a first-person point of view while murdering his victims. The movie’s death scenes remain realistic to this day. Instead of using the cheap effects of the 1970s, the camera cuts away before each kill is finished and shows the lifeless body of the victim after. In the first kill, you see the murderer’s hands using a plastic bag to suffocate Claire Harrison (Lynne Griffin)—it cuts away before she dies, and then her dead body is shown with the plastic bag still over her head.
It takes place in a dark and snowy setting and the lighting is for the most part dark and grey. This is how the limitations of the time add more effect to the overall creepiness because of the dark and grainy quality. In addition to the mostly dark colours, they use Christmas lights and Christmas-themed colours to give it a familiar but scary holiday feel.
The music is a mixture of dark instrumentals and Christmas carols. I always thought there was something creepy about Christmas carols, and Black Christmas confirms it. After watching this movie, you will never think of “O Come, All Ye Faithful” the same way again.
The age and budget of Black Christmas does show, especially with some of the dialogue and side characters. Chris (Art Hindle) is supposed to be the upset boyfriend who is desperately looking for Claire, but everything he says comes off as hilarious for all the wrong reasons.
Black Christmas leaves some questions unanswered, though. If you go into the movie expecting a big revelation scene, you will be disappointed. This actually works in the favour of the movie, though, because it opens up a lot of things for debate among its fans.
If you can look past some of the cheesy ’70s dialogue, Black Christmas is definitely a classic film that deserves a watch. So for all of you looking for a dark, bloody, and gory alternative for the happy family-friendly movies, I recommend Black Christmas. I give it three dead sorority girls out of five.