Our Holiday Favorites 2014: Black Christmas


Welcome to Holiday Favorites, a series in which Slackerwood contributors and our friends talk about the movies we watch during the holiday season, holiday-related or otherwise.

The idea of a strange costumed man breaking into my home is terrifying. It's made even more terrifying under fluorescent lights, and with the amount of sharp Christmas-related objects strewn around most homes during the holidays a sleigh ride takes on a new meaning (see the tagline for the 2006 Black Christmas remake).

I first saw Black Christmas in high school, perusing the Blockbuster horror aisle. My two-week winter break was underway and I was tired of watching ABC Family Channel's "25 Days of Christmas." The cover of Black Christmas sold me: a young woman sitting in a rocking chair with a plastic bag over her head. I thought about the plastic bag that covered the winter coat I received as an early Christmas present, which before hung in my closet hopeful for cold weather, but now took on an ominous presence. 

Black Christmas (its original 1974 theatrical title was the corny Silent Night, Evil Night) tells the now-done-to-death story of a group of college women staying in their sorority house during winter break. This decision proves to be more mind-numbing than listening to half-drunk family members rattle on about their problems.

Olivia Hussey (Romeo and Juliet) stars as the "last girl" who has to battle the asthmatic, camera-shy lunatic. (The cast also includes Margot Kidder, John Saxon, Andrea Martin and Keir Dullea.) All the now-classic tropes of a slasher-thriller flick are here: creaky furniture, premarital sex, oblivious adults and really awesome flared pants. 

The gore is to a minimum (although not in the poorly-done remake) and the imagination produces far scarier results, although I wouldn't suggest watching this movie in front of the youngins or baby boomers who have forgotten what it was like to be young. Black Christmas is the right mixture of Hitchcock and camp to call for repeat viewings -- and without it movies like Halloween, Friday The 13th and their numerous sequels may never have been made (and where would Redbox be without them?). 

Trivia: Black Christmas is directed by Bob Clark, who later directed A Christmas Story.

Where to watch: Black Christmas is available at Vulcan Video north, and on Netflix, iTunes, Amazon and Google Play.