Most in the horror community are well aware of this film, its influence on the slasher genre and how it is a classic and, in my opinion, the scariest Christmas horror film ever made. However outside of the horror community it’s quite an “unknown” thus making it a “Hidden Horror” on a technicality. With that said though, those that don’t know of this film are really missing out on such a scary one!
“Black Christmas” concerns a sorority house on Christmas break, where the sorority girls are being put on edge from constant strange, anonymous and disturbing phone calls. One of the girls goes “missing” so they soon contact the police, which don’t express much concern. Meanwhile our protagonist Jess is planning to get an abortion but boyfriend Peter is very much against it. The police finally begin to get concerned when a 13-year-old girl is found dead in the park. They set up a wiretap to the sorority house but will they be in time to prevent a sorority girl attrition problem?
Now I know you might be thinking the plot sounds like that of many slasher films but you have to remember that this film came out in 1974, four years before John Carpenter’s “Halloween” started the slasher boom. Really this film can be seen more as a prototype of what was going to come. Like the original “Halloween” it does not focus on blood (there’s very little in the film) and carnage but rather creeping you the hell out and boy does it succeed. Not only do the phone calls our killer makes get more and more strange and disturbing, but there are several scenes that will send shivers down your spine and plenty of tense, edge of your seat murders. There is also an ending that will leave goosebumps trailing down your arms and you will never be able to hear an old style telephone ring the same way again, especially during the closing credits.
If you want a Christmas horror film that will most likely scare the fuck out of you or at least creep you the hell out, then seek out the original “Black Christmas.” Watch it alone with all the lights off…well…except for the glow of the Christmas tree for added atmosphere.
Fun fact: Bob Clark, the director of “Black Christmas” would go on to direct the Christmas classic “A Christmas Story.”
-James J. Coker