If there’s one thing I’ve learned from doing this series, it’s that I haven’t seen nearly as many movies as I like to think I have -- and that includes some of the most classic films the horror genre has to offer. Case in point: Black Christmas.
The 1974 flick was directed by Bob Clark, who is probably known more for the 1983 holiday comedy A Christmas Story -- but Black Christmas would be the film that would go on to define and influence a lot of horror classics, including John Carpenter’s Halloween. It often gets the most credit for being the predecessor of the slasher genre, not to mention it takes place around the holidays. Naturally, I had to sit down and watch it for the first time -- ‘tis the season, after all. Nothing like watching a group of sorority sisters get murdered to get yourself into the holiday spirit!
1. The movie starts off with a rendition of “Silent Night” in the background, but something tells me this night ain’t gonna be silent.
2. Margot Kidder is in this?! I’m more surprised about the fact that she only gets third billing, but I guess this is a pre-Lois Lane role for her.
3. One of the sorority sisters left the front door open, but the presumed killer decides to climb up the outdoor trellis instead. Not really a thinker.
4. Margot Kidder is rocking an epic choker/men’s shirt combo that I’m convinced could come back into fashion.
5. Why does every attic have an old horse rocking chair in it? More importantly, why would this sorority house have one?
6. You know it’s bad when you have a name for your prank caller. He’s called “The Moaner” but he basically makes a lot of pig snorting noises and obscene comments until Margot Kidder tells him to stick his tongue in a wall socket.
7. I think my biggest issue with Margot Kidder's character (named Barb) in this is that the script tries to portray her as the Cool Girl who doesn’t give a crap but winds up making her the mouthpiece for a lot of gross sexism. Oof.
8. Okay, I’m putting my foot down right now. THE CAT CANNOT DIE. (I don’t care so much about the girls, though.)
9. Clearly, no one is going up in that attic anytime soon, so it’s not the worst place to stash your victims.
10. The sorority housemother Mrs. Mac walks around in squeaky rubber houseshoes and keeps her booze stashed all over the place. At one point, she uses liquor for mouthwash and all I can say is: adulting goals.
11. I’m literally surprised the cat hasn’t started eating Clare yet. Isn’t that what cats do with dead bodies? Maybe it’s because she’s WRAPPED in PLAS-tic.
12. Mrs. Mac has no patience for Clare's judgey dad, but then also blames the cat for dropping the entire contents of her purse so now she’s on my list.
13. Olivia Hussey’s Jess is apparently this movie’s equivalent of a Final Girl, but she’s also way more progressive than any Final Girl has ever been. For one: she’s pregnant, and second: she decides to tell her boyfriend she wants an abortion, which doesn’t go over well with him. GET WITH THE PROGRAM, DUDE.
14. Anyway, I love her pink hat in this scene. I also love that they let Hussey keep her real accent even though I’m questioning why. Maybe Jess is a foreign exchange student?
15. Barb drinking is me drinking at any holiday party, clearly, but then SHE GIVES AN ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE TO A CHILD. These girls are terrible role models.
16. Barb seems to be basically smoking and/or drinking in almost every scene. Again, I think we’re supposed to be convinced she’s cool but she ends up coming off a hot mess, especially when she’s trying to flirt with the police officer.
17. Everything Jess wears is the pinnacle of winter fashion.
18. Meanwhile, her boyfriend is supposedly this aspiring concert pianist, but dude gets the flop sweats when he so much as tries to play in a music audition and his piano playing skills sound like cats are walking up and down the keys.
19. Look. At. That. Coat.
20. This might be a little premature but I’m kind of shipping Barb and Phyllis, especially when Phyl’s the only one who can calm Barb down during one of her drunken rants.
21. Jess’ failing musician boyfriend deals with presumably failing his audition by breaking apart his piano with a mic stand, which is a totally reasonable thing to do and not indicative of some larger rage issues whatsoever.
22. Somehow, another girl has gone missing but she isn’t a member of the sorority. I thought the murderer was just gonna hang out in the attic the whole time? The scene gives us a shot of a dude in a red balaclava at least, which I couldn’t find a picture of -- but trust me, it’s gold.
23. Welp. Guess Claude’s started down the path of eating people.
24. Mrs. Mac is walking around the house yelling at Claude and telling him that every little thing is his fault, so in my opinion, she deserves what’s coming. That turns out to be a giant hook that is also somehow hanging in the attic.
25. Finally, finally, FINALLY Jess calls the police about all of the gross phone calls the sorority house has been getting. Not sure how the cops will be able to backtrace things in the '70s, but we’ll see.
26. Jess’ boyfriend doesn’t even pop the question with her; he just informs her they’re getting married. No wonder she turns him down flat. She’s still trying to live her life, Peter! He also calls her a selfish B for wanting to make her own choices about her own body and I’m starting to hope he becomes the killer’s next victim.
27. The body count is pretty impressive considering it’s only been about a day in movie timeline, but it’s also made up of fewer sorority girls than I was expecting.
28. The cops tap all of the phones and set up an officer in a car outside to watch on the girls. There’s also still a search party roaming around the neighborhood looking for the other missing girl, but I’m guessing that won’t be enough because MURDER.
29. It’s taken me this long to figure out that Phyl is ANDREA FREAKING MARTIN (otherwise known as my favorite aunt from My Big Fat Greek Wedding and my favorite feeeemale Ferengi from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine). So many layers to this film.
30. Phyl says she can feel that Clare is dead by now, but she’s probably just starting to smell the dead body up in the attic.
31. The movie now takes this opportunity (with 30 minutes left) to reveal that Barb also has asthma, and all those cigarettes she’s smoking hardly help the situation.
32. If you’re gonna get murdered, having it happen while Christmas carolers sing loud enough to drown out your screams isn’t the worst way to go. The killer even props Barb and Phyl’s bodies up in the same bed, because gal pals.
33. One of the sorority house’s holiday wreaths has tiny bottles pinned inside it and I’m hoping they’re full of liquor.
34. Jess suddenly decides that now is the time to lock all the doors and windows. NOW. After four people have gone missing.
35. Wait. Wait. Wait. Is this where the famous saying comes from? THE CALLS ARE COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE? Well, snap.
36. I know this is a bad time to mention it while she’s running around the house and fighting for her life, but I’m really appreciating Jess’s yellow collared shirt underneath the black vest combo. This girl knows how to style.
37. Jess mistakes Peter for the moaner/killer and stabs him to death… or does she? Frankly, Peter was a jerk who should’ve gotten offed a while ago and I’m not entirely unconvinced she doesn’t stab him for trying to control her.
38. The cops find Peter’s body and Jess practically catatonic, so of course, the thing to do is to sedate her in her own bed and talk around her. Isn’t there a hospital she needs to go to at this point?
39. Oh, one of the detectives says Phyl has a boyfriend that we never got to see and will never get to see. I choose to believe he doesn’t exist because girlfriends.
40. In case you needed to question whether this movie influenced slasher flicks to come, the cliffhanger at the very end should be more than enough to convince you. It’s okay, though! We didn’t see a body! … right?