Black Christmas

Black Christmas: [Mild spoiler] a sorority house plagued by abusive phone calls starts losing housemates at a rapid rate, but who is the killer!? Widely considered to be the first ‘slasher’ film, it contains everything we now take for granted in the genre – deranged serial killer with an aversion to young folk (always played by significantly older folk), meticulous stalking, savage attacks, all held together with of blood, terror and tension. This is one of the more technically superior horrors I can remember seeing; the first-person camera stalking is extremely impressive – especially given the size of old equipment – it’s cleverly shot, creepy sounding, well mixed, and remains convincingly festive. This still looks great for a 35 year old low-budget horror – if you can ignore 70s fashion. The high-quality means that a proper atmosphere is built-up, and it becomes genuinely creepy in parts. It’s also ahead of the curve with gratuitously foul language, which stands out more than the gore you see. On the down side, there are some major pacing issues with several sections of boring non-story, non action filler. Most disappointingly, there’s no reveal of the killer, motives or even a face – definitely missed a trick, leaving a bitter, unsatisfying taste. Black Christmas is a good B-movie, better than most of the stuff that’s churned out en masse these days – even after decades of imitation. It’s unfortunate that what would have been so fresh and shocking back in the day is now more interesting for everything behind and off camera – and how it was once innovative, unique, interesting, and bold enough to kickstart a genre.

Score: 6/10

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