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Black Christmas – 8

Director – Bob Clark

Cast – Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder, John Saxon, Marian Waldman, Andrea Martin, James Edmond, Doug McGrath, Art Hindle, Lynne Griffin

Release Year – 1974

Reviewed by John of the Dead

Anyone familiar with the slasher scene has to have at least heard of this 1974 classic somehow or another.  Definitely one of the most underrated horror films of all time, this brash and abrasive film gives us one of the genre’s creepiest slashers executed in such awesome fashion.  Fresh off the success of his cult classic film Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things, and before he gave us Porkys, director Bob Clark gave us this highly effective slasher gem.

This flick follows a group of sorority girls fresh on their Christmas break.  They begin to receive weird anonymous phone calls that gradually increase in vehemence.  Soon enough, one of the girls goes missing, which prompts the rest of the gang to remain on edge as the locals and authorities search for the young girl.  Despite their fruitless searches, the body count begins to rise at the hands of a depraved killer hiding out in the very sorority home the girls are hiding at…from him.

Right from the get-go this film had me hooked.  The first-person view of the stalker and soon-to-be killer was a nice touch and a great way to get the film started.  It was creepy, and consequently…effective.  His torturing of the girls via their telephone was nicely done as well, showing us just how creepy and psychopathic this killer is.  Many times we have seen films where a killer calls the victim and harasses them, but never with sheer fear-inducing dialogue and vocal performance like the killer in this film.  It is quite honestly the best aspect of the film, and that says a lot given how simple it really is.

The growing level of harassment throughout the film was nicely executed, giving us constant developments throughout this piece.  With this supplemented with some cool kills and sadistic actions by the killer, I was very impressed with this killer’s psyche.  There are some areas where this film does tend to stray a little and slow down, but those areas are somewhat negated entirely when we are re-introduced to this awesome killer’s antics.  This film is a simple one, focusing on great direction and camerawork to sell itself.  Bob Clark’s direction in this film is very well done as he set up each scene involving the killer perfectly, keeping the viewer in utter suspense and in the same paranoia as the young girls in the film itself.  There is just so much you can do with so very little as long as you have imagination and creativity, and Mr. Clark shows he has what it takes for this type of film.

Story-wise this film is even simpler, and quite a few questions are left unanswered.  Some may gawk at this, but personally in this film’s case I enjoyed it because it just adds even more horror to what we get on screen.  Sometimes not knowing anything at all is truly horrific, and that is the case with this flick.

Overall, this is an awesome entry to the slasher sub-genre that even pre-dated John Carpenter’s infamous “Halloween”.  A great film with an awesome killer, this is a must watch for any fan of the horror genre, especially fans of the slasher sub-genre.  Highly recommended.

Rating: 8/10

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