Latest Articles

  • 4974f52d42c49534bfabeae9a93a482a 450 750

    Exorcist II: The Heretic

    Linda Blair has a devil of a time in this infamous sequel. Read More
  • 9021ee1f5bc3d4fb62dd4d71858e6689 450 750

    The Family Graves #1

    The Munsters meets Lost in Space in this new indie comic. Read More
  • 550e453413c21ca95cfec3961ab8dac3 450 750

    Feral

    Not much to see in this overly familiar tale of horrors in the woods. Read More
  • Bf47cc6b63701894cdcb17a87ecf0c31 450 750

    Hostile

    Hostile goes much deeper than a simple apocalypse…if you’ll let it. Read More
  • 0179dd0576f79f4605a1b11fcbaf9ca7 450 750

    Come Into Me #3

    Get ready for some of the most terrifying body horror you've seen in ages. Read More
  • 5c0e9ade621272c8802c35c3aa60372a 450 750

    The Long Con #2

    Watch out for the feral tweens! Read More
  • 5fae26e212f34fbba997609a4e85352e 450 750

    Hunt for the Skinwalker

    When the Indian reservation says it’s off-limits, you know there’s bad juju…. Read More
  • C4a6640c8f3d923adb2f68dd13c39518 450 750

    Cosmic Ghost Rider #3

    Get ready for a whole lot of murder as Frank Castle kills just about everyone. Read More
  • C8d867bb2bff8e20a73bac905b733f80 450 750

    Patient Zero

    A familiar apocalyptic sandwich hides surprising mystery meat in the middle! Read More
  • 016d929ebbcd95df9d59d1984d0e0258 450 750

    Funny Book Splatter 084: Michael Hague

    James chats with the man behind Mammon, the frightening and beautiful vampire comic. Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10

Latest News

  • Buffy Bounces Over to BOOM! Studios +

    3fd3322cbca7e1a1da36f470795c02a9 160 120 The publisher intends to release all new comics, graphic novels, and more beginning in 2019 Read More
  • The Freeze Delivers a New Spin on the Post-Apocalyptic Tale +

    E42e4ba8b2cc3f783d377b9e5bc1fc57 160 120 New series from Image Comics has everyone frozen in place. Read More
  • Murder Falcon’s Heavy Metal Variants Pay Tribute to the Classics +

    Aada0f0bd6be5168536e77eb8c52d4c2 160 120 Somehow this book gets even more metal. Read More
  • Go Back to the Terrortory Next Month +

    4ef1dd01429c65268bf68c2c72fb5225 160 120 Terrortory 2 hits Amazon on October 1st and we have an exclusive clip from the horror anthology! Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Home

Black Christmas DVD Review


Written by ZigZag

DVD released by Critical Mass

Black Christmas 1974 01Black Christmas 1974 02


Directed by Bob Clark
Written by Roy Moore
1974, Region 1 (NTSC), 98 minutes, Rated R
DVD Released on December 05, 2006

Starring:
Olivia Hussey as Jess Bradford
John Saxon as Lt. Fuller
Margot Kidder as Barbara
Keir Dullea as Peter

 

Black Christmas 1974 03Black Christmas 1974 04

 

Review:


The Pi Kappa Sigma sorority house is decorated for Christmas and the girls are having a party before going home for the holidays. Meanwhile, an unseen intruder breaks into the house and takes up residence in the attic. Soon the festivities are interrupted by a series of obscene phone calls, beginning with heavy-breathing, and then escalating to the insane ravings of a deranged individual.

Jess Bradford is under the strain of the holiday and the creepy phone calls are not helping. Her boyfriend, Peter is a music major feeling the stress of his upcoming piano recital exam, but she adds to the weight by telling him that she is pregnant and wants an abortion. Peter is adamant that marriage and a baby are exactly what they need for happiness, and is devastated that Jess doesn’t share his views.

When Claire (Lynne Griffin) comes upstairs to pack, she is suffocated with a plastic dry-cleaning bag and placed in the attic. Once she fails to meet her father (James Edmond) the next day, he checks with the sorority house and is taken to the police by sorority sisters Barb (Margot Kidder) and Phyllis (Andrea Martin), but no one takes his concerns seriously until it is revealed that a local high-school girl is also missing.

The missing girl’s body is located in the park by a search party and the community is shocked. Phyllis returns to the police station with Claire’s father and boyfriend Chris (Art Hindle), and speak with Lt. Fuller (John Saxon), who when informed of the situation takes special interest in the timing of Claire’s disappearance, the victim in the park, and the house receiving threatening phone calls. Fuller sets a trace on the sorority phone and places an undercover cop at the house.

The unseen killer continues to torment Jess over the phone and identifies himself only as “Billy.”She endures repeated calls while trying to work things out with her boyfriend, who ultimately storms off, leaving her alone to deal with the escalating chaos.

 

Black Christmas 1974 05Black Christmas 1974 06

 

Black Christmas 1974 07Black Christmas 1974 08


Black Christmas (1974) is a bleak picture that is strongest when focusing on an atmosphere of loneliness and isolation. The cast is quite impressive and many had not previously worked within the genre and all deliver solid performances. Olivia Hussey (Romeo and Juliet) stars as Jess, the complicated heroine who must resolve the growing suspicion that “Billy” may actually be her boyfriend. Keir Dullea (2001: A Space Odyssey) is mysterious and threatening as Peter, a man whose intensity is both off-putting and understandable given his situation.

Margot Kidder (Sisters) is the free-spirited Barb, a wise-cracking, hard-living woman who doesn’t care what people think as long as she continues to have fun. The veteran performer on hand is John Saxon (Tenebre) who provides gravity to the situation as the well-meaning cop who may do more harm than good.

Bob Clark (Turk! 182) has assembled a fine team on both sides of the camera. The main location is so powerful that the house actually becomes a character, and Clark manipulates it as easily as its human counterparts. Roy Moore’s script would be emulated by countless hacks over the following decades, yet he never returned to the genre. The unsettling and creepy score by Carl Zittrer amplifies the tension as the haunting chords enhance the overall experience.

 

Black Christmas 1974 09Black Christmas 1974 10


The film is visually stunning in regards to the craft that went into presentation. Reginald Morris’ cinematography is lush and filled with scenes composed of single takes that include both elaborate camera moves and often involve a variety of focus-settings that occur so unobtrusively as to go unnoticed. The camera rig worn by Bert Dunk providing Billy’s POV while climbing ladders and allowing both hands to be seen within frame is both creative and, when employed with the wide-angle lens for the subjective camerawork of sequences of stalking and murdering his victims, completely unsettling.

The film falters when it strays from the genre, the weakest aspect being the forced interludes of comedy that drag the film to an awkward halt. Most egregious is the secret drinking of Mrs. Mac, the house-mother (Marian Waldman), a running joke that falls flat after the second appearance, becoming redundant and overbearing.

Additionally, the sequence of tracing phone calls feels bloated. The material is interesting, but the tension is broken every time the scene cuts away to the operator racing to track the incoming calls. The missing-student subplot adds to the sense of dread because it is balanced with the arrival of Claire’s father.

Originally released in Canada to strong response, American distributors feared the title might be mistaken for a blaxploitation movie and released it as Silent Night, Evil Night. The film did not get much of an audience, but soon the original title and marketing campaign were utilized and the film received much greater success.

 

Black Christmas 1974 11Black Christmas 1974 12

 

Black Christmas 1974 13Black Christmas 1974 14


Countless slashers that followed focused on a pattern that implied the meek and pure win over the irresponsible when it comes to survival skills. Jess is a Final Girl who is quite strong and willing to put herself in danger in order to confirm the safety of her friends. She is never judged for wanting an abortion and is allowed to be a mature and thoughtful woman without being an irresponsible mess unlike so many other slashers that compartmentalized their characters.

Although Clark’s movie came a full four years before Halloween (1978), John Carpenter’s film is credited with opening the gates for countless slasher films that populated the 1980s and often polluted the 1990s. When A Stranger Calls (1979) and He Knows You’re Alone (1980) are two examples of knock-offs that lifted directly from Black Christmas, but lacked Bob Clark’s knack for successful storytelling.

Black Christmas has developed a substantial cult following over the last thirty years and so it was inevitable that it would be dragged into the Hollywood remake cycle. The best thing the remake brings to the table is the renewed interest in the 1974 original.


Black Christmas 1974 15Black Christmas 1974 16

 

Video and Audio:

 

Critical Mass has released this title three times on DVD. The first was a full frame mono offering that was soon replaced by the “Collector’s Edition” featuring a non-anamorphic widescreen picture and 2-channel stereo sound mix.

The third time is the charm, as the “Special Edition” release comes with a digitally remastered picture presenting a 16x9 enhanced widescreen image in a comfortable 1:78 aspect ratio, with rich colors and deep blacks. There is a noticeable improvement to overall picture quality, although there is a fair amount of film grain throughout.

A full 5.1 surround sound mix is new to this release, making clever use of the surround channels. Original English mono and French dub options are also included.

 

Black Christmas 1974 17Black Christmas 1974 18

 

Special Features:


This DVD offers the documentary The 12 Days of Black Christmas (20 minutes) narrated by Saxon and featuring new interviews with members of the cast and crew.

Three of the actors interviewed for the piece are featured in extended interview segments including Olivia Hussey (17 min.), Margot Kidder (22 min.) and Art Hindle (24 min.)

Recently discovered “sound takes” (3 min.) featuring missing audio from the film appear next.

Rounding out the presentation is a Q&A event (20 min.) featuring Clark, Saxon, and composer Carl Zittrer conducted following a special midnight screening of the film.

As fantastic as the “Special Edition” release is, there are a number of features on the previous “Collector’s Edition” that are sadly absent. Commentary tracks featuring Bob Clark, John Saxon, and Keir Dullea, trailers, stills, and other marketing elements and the companion documentary Black Christmas Revisited have been removed without explanation.

Black Christmas is available on Blu-ray, but only the features from the “Special Edition” release have carried over. Hopefully an “Ultimate Edition” will arrive, combining all the extra materials.

 

Black Christmas 1974 19Black Christmas 1974 20

 

Grades:

 

 
Movie: Threeandahalfstars Black Christmas Cover
Buy Amazon Us
Video: Threestars
Audio: Threestars
Features: Twostars
Overall: Threeandahalfstars

 

 

 

Black Christmas 1974 21Black Christmas 1974 22

 

Conclusion:


Bob Clark had previously directed Deathdream and Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things before making this, his final horror film. He went on to make a number of comedies including Porky’s and A Christmas Story. Whenever possible, he would hire many of the same cast and crew on movies over the four decades he worked in the industry.

Bob Clark and his son Ariel died in a car accident on April 4, 2007.

For additional information on all things Black Christmas, check out the official website.

 

ZigZag12

 

Day 12 of "ZigZag's 12 Days of Christmas".

 

Day 1: Tales from the Crypt's And All Through the House

Day 2: To All a Good Night

Day 3: Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2

Day 4: Jaws: The Revenge

Day 5: Christmas Evil

Day 6: Psycho Santa / Satan Clause Double Feature

Day 7: Santa Claws

Day 8: A Christmas Tale (aka Cuento de Navidad)

Day 9: Elves

Day 10: Dead End

Day 11: Santa's Slay

Day 12: Black Christmas (1974)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About The Author
ZigZag
Author: ZigZag
Staff Writer
ZigZag's favorite genres include horror (foreign and domestic), Asian cinema and pornography (foreign and domestic). His ability to seek out and enjoy shot on video (SOV) horror movies is unmatched. His love of films with a budget under $100,000 is unapologetic.
Recent Articles

Search

Popular Categories

YouTube

OBEY - CONSUME

1.260x260

Contests

  • 1

Join Us!

Hit the buttons below to follow us, you won't regret it...