Friday 7 December 2007

Black Christmas (1974) Bob Clark

The first half of a fascinating double bill courtesy of Midnite Movie Mamacita, Black Christmas is a slasher movie way ahead of its time. It was made in 1974 by Bob Clark, who had already made a couple of horror movies, Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things and Dead of Night, but would go on to big hits like Porky's and A Christmas Story, and eventually enduring Razzie fame with Rhinestone, The Karate Dog and the Baby Geniuses films.

The draw to a B movie fan is John Saxon, yet again playing a cop, but the leads are Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea and Margot Kidder. Hussey and Kidder play girls living at a sorority house presumably somewhere in Minnesota judging from the accents. There are a number of girls there, plus a housekeeper, Mrs Mac, played by Marian Waldman. However there's someone else in the house too, a mysterious stranger who's climbed into the attic and is gradually killing everyone off. There's also an mysterious caller who keeps ringing and shouting obscenities in various voices down the phone at the girls.

There's a lot of humour in this film, not always intentional, but it does stand up as a decent horror movie. Much of the laughs come from how outrageous everyone acts. The girls, especially Barb Coard (and who could buy Margot Kidder as a student, given that she looks way older than her 26 years) smoke, drink like fishes and get up to all sorts of unseemly activities. Jessica Bradford, Hussey's character, is gorgeous and seemingly thoroughly decent but she's got herself pregnant by Peter Smythe, played by Keir Dullea. She wants to abort but Smythe, an avant garde pianist, is about as egotistical as anyone can be and refuses to even think such a thing.

Saxon gets to investigate the murders, which include a seemingly unrelated child killing, and cope with a completely dumb desk sergeant, something I'm learning has its roots firmly in the detective series of the forties. The film is powerful though too outrageous, and really sets the scene for the future slasher genre, given that it was made six years before Friday the 13th and four before Hallowe'en. Admittedly 1974 is still three years after the true originator, Mario Bava's A Bay of Blood, but it still plays like an eighties film, the only real differences being the lack of nudity and an older soundtrack.

1 comment:

jervaise brooke hamster said...

The way this film ends is the stuff of pure cinematic legend.