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Monday, December 25, 2023

‘Black Christmas’ Remains the Pinnacle of Holiday Horror Classics [12 Days of Creepmas]

Merry Creepmas, you filthy animals. The final day of Bloody Disgusting’s 12 Days of Creepmas is here, and it feels only fitting to celebrate with the reigning champion of holiday horror: Bob Clark’s Black Christmas.

In case you missed any of the holiday festivities, you can keep track of the 12 Days of Creepmas here.

Released in 1974, Black Christmas has a simple setup on paper; over Christmas break, the residents of a sorority house are stalked and preyed upon by an unseen foe. Thanks to director Bob Clark and screenwriter Roy Moore, the plot isn’t quite so simple as it sounds thanks to a wonderfully complex cast of characters and character-driven moments that enhance the horror.

Scene-stealer Barb (Margot Kidder) is foul-mouthed and unapologetic, and her pranks or drunken quips ensure this sorority house is full of life. Barb is the precise type of handful that likely wears on housemother Mrs. MacHenry (Marian Waldman), who has hidden bottles of booze in the strangest of places throughout the house. Phyl (Andrea Martin), in many ways, acts as the true housemother as she looks after her fellow sisters. We never get to know Clare (Lynne Griffin), except for how much she’s loved by her boyfriend, family, and sorority sisters before she becomes the killer’s first victim in a memorable death sequence. At the center of it all is final girl Jess Bradford (Olivia Hussey), who has a lot more on her mind than the holidays.

Olivia Hussey as Jess in Black Christmas

Jess is at a critical turning point in her relationship with short-tempered music student Peter (Keir Dullea); he thinks they’ll get married and she’ll support his dreams, while she has goals and plans for her future. They don’t include a baby, much to Peter’s chagrin. That sets Peter up as a prime suspect in Clark’s atmospheric slasher that plays by its own set of rules. But it also sets Jess apart from the final girls that would follow, starting with Halloween‘s Laurie Strode. Jess may be venturing into controversial waters with her steadfast decision to abort her baby, but Moore smartly dedicates time to demonstrate just how kind Jess is when it comes to being there for her friends.

Through this sorority house and its devoted friendships and the warm holiday feels, Black Christmas stretches out its taut suspense. From the opening moments, we watch through the killer’s POV as he climbs the trellis and sets up camp in the Pi Kappa Sigma attic. Yet, for most of the runtime, the residents of the sorority house remain oblivious until it’s far too late. One by one, the unseen stalker bides his time, waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike. The unsettling realization that the holidays offer the perfect cover for murder permeates. No one bats an eye at the sisters who go missing; they surely must’ve gone home for Christmas, right?

Billy may be an opportunistic killer here, but he wants his acts known to his future targets. He torments the women with disturbing phone calls, filled with heavy breathing and skin-crawling obscenities that feel all the more offensive because they arrive at one of the holiest times of the year. Because we get attached to these characters, their demises are all the more tragic and horrific.

Black Christmas

As if that wasn’t enough to solidify Black Christmas‘ place in holiday horror and slasher canon, Clark and Moore demonstrate profound awareness that random acts of violence are often far more unsettling and nightmare inducing than clean motives and tidy killer reveals.

Almost a decade later, Bob Clark would once again nail the holiday movie with the effortlessly charming A Christmas Story, earning him a worthy reputation for crafting holiday masterpieces. But Clark had impressive horror efforts under his belt before Black Christmas; the comedic Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things and brooding Monkey’s Paw tale Deathdream. The latter feels like a perfect precursor to Black Christmas, especially when combined with Clark’s executive producer work on sleazy Ed Gein-inspired psychological horror movie Deranged, co-directed and written by frequent Clark collaborator Alan Ormsby (Deathdream, Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things).

Black Christmas influenced and shaped the horror genre- and slashers specifically- in profound ways. It embraces its holiday theming so fully in ways that many holiday horror doesn’t quite. But it’s that perfect marriage of sleazy slasher thrills with authentic characters attempting to navigate the stresses of the holiday season, and life, that makes Black Christmas the pinnacle of holiday horror.

Luckily, you can stream this gem now on AMC+, Crackle, Fandor, Kanopy, Peacock, SCREAMBOX, Shudder, Tubi, and The Roku Channel.

Break out the crystal figurines, pour yourself a glass of spiked eggnog, and put watch the definitive holiday horror classic this Creepmas. And seasons bleedings for all.

Black Christmas crystals with Barb's bloody hand

The post ‘Black Christmas’ Remains the Pinnacle of Holiday Horror Classics [12 Days of Creepmas] appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.



source https://bloody-disgusting.com/editorials/3793812/black-christmas-remains-the-pinnacle-of-holiday-horror-classics-12-days-of-creepmas/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=black-christmas-remains-the-pinnacle-of-holiday-horror-classics-12-days-of-creepmas

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