Black Christmas (1974)

Bob Clark directs Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea and Margot Kidder in this festive slasher flick that kick started the whole cycle.

The original if not quite the best. There’s a solid ensemble – Kidder stands out for the right reasons, though poor gorgeous Hussey cannot even answer a phone convincingly. Luckily she has beautiful flowing brown hair, rivalled only by Katherine Ross in the straightness stakes. The Christmas setting adds a nice creepy juxtaposition. Plotwise it works, the girls are heading off to see their families which means missing teens can and are overlooked. What makes carol singers and twinkly lights so cinematically menacing? It must be more than the cold outside, unforgivingly turning your breath into a ghost and making your hands ineffectively shake. Maybe it is a time that should be joyous and colourful still can’t stop a killer nor protect the vulnerably lonely? The kills themselves aren’t that imaginative but the killer POV sequences were copied by pretty much every horror that followed in Black Christmas’ wake, even the mighty Halloween. The best bits are the disturbing, taunting sex phone calls, that appear to be the work of five maniacs. Black Christmas’ coup de grace is we never find out who the killer is. Yet it has an air of self parody that slows things down and probably needs one extra stalk and kill sequence at the one hour mark to take some of the hot air out of it. That is hindsight now we know what works in the genre, this first stab is still better than most of its bland imitators.

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