Black Christmas (1974)
Synopsis: A sorority house is terrorized by a stranger who makes frightening phone calls and then murders the sorority sisters during Christmas break.
This counts as a horror movie AND holiday movie. Shall we make a new genre? We can call it “horrorday,” and put in April Fool’s Day, My Bloody Valentine, and Black Christmas. Santa’s Slay with Bill Goldberg won’t be included, because it’s atrocious.
1974′s Black Christmas is considered a classic, especially due to the fact that so many of it’s tropes have been lifted by films that succeeded it: the P.O.V. shots of the killer (Halloween), the lone cop who knows what’s going on (most every movie), et al. It’s difficult to watch today, because so many things that were novel in 1973 seem tired today.
Not tired are the killer’s lines in his phone calls: “I’ll stick my tongue up your pretty pink pussy” is delivered in a frenzy, with “right after I kill you” in an eerily calm deadpan that chills you to the bone.
Also chilling is the overwrought alcoholism of the house mother and Margot Kidder’s Barb. Really, booze turns all women in this movie into raging bitches.
Olivia Hussey is amazing, as is John Saxon, but the rest of the actors continue on hamming it up like they’re trying to compete with Al Pacino in a scenery-chewing contest. Hussey and Saxon succeed mainly by virtue of restraint, more than anything else.
That restraint of the actors is in the pacing, too – the ending wouldn’t be half as scary without the quiet ambiance generated by half-seen terrors and aural frightenings. The fact nothing’s ever really explained works in the movie’s favor, too.
If I knew Billy’s backstory, would that be as terrifying as a crazed, psychotic killer, unhinged beyond all knowing? I think not.