Black Christmas (1974)

It’s a normal Christmas, nothing creepy here at all.

We are into December, and the bells are jingling as we dust off those Christmas classics and pull them out of the cupboard for their yearly viewing. There’s enough good cheer on the TV to make Santa Claus puke, and for a few weeks, we pretend the world is a better place. However, what do you turn to when that cloying feeling of happiness becomes too much? You don’t want to completely give up on that Christmas feeling, but you do fancy seeing some slashing? Enter Black Christmas.

Set in a sorority house, Black Christmas is sometimes held up as being up there with Halloween with its influence on the modern slasher. Unfortunately, while that film’s particular holiday lends itself nicely to the genre, Christmas might have been a harder sell, and it has been left to cult status. Which is a shame because there are some genuinely good moments in this film.

See? Children singing. That’s lovely

It all starts with a phone call, a phone call from the kind of perv that nowadays would slide into these girls Facebook messages or maybe even their Tinder with a particularly poorly thought out snap. Here they have to contend with him panting down the phone at them. When Barb (Margot Kidder) snaps and baits the creepy fucker he responds by threatening to kill them all. A threat that turns out to be more dangerous than they expected.

If you’ve seen a slasher film, then you know what happens next. From the initial ignorance of the participants to the eventual horror of what comes next. Yet, much like the original Halloween, this film doesn’t rely on over the top blood baths to make its point. Instead, it goes for the unsettling, and that’s where the Christmas feeling comes into its own. When set in the right context the cold dark nights alone in front of the fire and the sound of carol singing don’t seem as warm and fuzzy as they once did.

Oh shit, it’s all gone wrong.

Throw in a few strong performances – particular from Olivia Hussey as Jess who becomes our central figure – and you’ve got a recipe for fun. Sure, in the years since it came out every beat in this film has been recycled a million times and nothing here will shock you, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s still a well-made slasher. If you are the type of person who’d rather coat the Christmas tree red than snuggle up in front of it, then this might be your new Christmas classic.

Verdict: Hall of Fame

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