Friday, 30 November 2012

Black Christmas (1974)

Black Christmas,1974,Canada
Director: Bob Clark
Stars: Olivia Hussey, Margot Kidder & John Saxon
                                                               ''Agnes, It's Billy! Don't tell what we did!''

Film #1 of The December Project

Bob Clark's seminal Canadian slasher film is known for pioneering the slasher genre as we know it. While the film is usually forgotten in favor of John Carpenter's 'Halloween', it was 'Black Christmas' which pioneered most of the slasher genres famous techniques.

The film revolves around a sorority house at Christmas, the girls are subject to prank calls from someone they refer to as ''the moaner'', little do they know that this prankster has more serious implications in mind, and begins stalking the house, killing victims and residing from the attic.

I recently watched and reviewed the 2006 remake of 'Black Christmas' in which I proclaimed my love of this film and scolded that one. I do have a special place in my heart for Bob Clark's original film, when I first saw it, it creeped me out beyond measure, I have seen it dozens of times since at it still effects me.

While I love John Carpenter's 'Halloween' and consider one of my favorite films of all time, You can really tell it borrows a significant amount from 'Black Christmas', If you compare the two opening scenes of both the films, you can see what I mean, With the use of Point of view shots and the fish eye lenses, 'Halloween' is basically emulating this film, but 'Halloween' does do it more effectively and is a better film, it does go to show how important this film was in horror film lore, When arguably the greatest film of the genre (Halloween) is considered utilizing what 'Black Christmas' did.

Like 'Halloween', I do consider this film to be one of the greats of the genre, Its a well executed and almost unbearably creepy film, the phone calls featured here, have the most eerie and unsettling I have ever heard on film. To be honest, I don't think a killer has ever scared me as much as 'Billy' did, there is so much mystery behind him/her/it, there is a truly unsettling presence when you know he is lurking.

I have many times in many different reviews, described my love of the ambiguity technique, and I think my admiration for it stems from this film, I know people who don't appreciate this film because they require answers to the mystery, to me this is not necessary, and it makes the film all the more effective not knowing. 

I have also heard people refer to this film as slow, and that its middle section drags. I have never really thought this until this viewing, while it didn't bother me too much, there is a clear buffering in the plot. There is too much unnecessary fluff featuring Mrs Mac, every second that women is on screen, I am irritated,also there is too much police procedure and too much Mr Harrison.

The film features a solid cast, that features a stand out performance from pre - Superman Margot Kidder, as the loveable yet abusive drunk. Olivia Hussey is in the lead role, and she specializes in playing a clueless heroin. Keir Duella also stars, he stared in '2001: A Space Odyssey', which means he worked with Stanley Kubrick, which automatically makes him great. John Saxon is also good as a L.t Fuller, a similar role to one he would play ten years later in 'A Nightmare On Elm Street'.

I have a strong admiration for this film, Bob Clark's film still has to be considered one of the scariest of all time. An immensely creepy experience, historic in the horror genre.


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