Shout Factory has finally released a definitive Blu-ray release of Bob Clark’s 1974 horror classic, Black Christmas. Every horror fan should put it at the top of their Christmas list for this year.
Black Christmas opens on an undeniably creepy note, as a psychotic murderer named “Billy” climbs up into the attic of a sorority. None of the girls have a clue of Billy’s arrival, carrying on with the Christmas festivities and making plans for the holidays. However, they do begin to receive incredibly obscene phone calls from someone they call “the moaner”. As it turns out, this isn’t the first time that “the moaner” has called, and it won’t be the last.
When one of the sorority girls is horrifically murdered and goes missing – “Billy” hides her in the attic, where most of his victims will ultimately end up – and a child is murdered, a search party is formed, and an inescapable sense of terror sets in.
A subplot involving a young woman named Jess adds a sense of mystery to the proceedings. Jess has become pregnant and wants an abortion. Her emotionally unstable boyfriend resents her for this decision, and displays some disturbing behavior early on that suggests he may have something to do with the murders. Of course, you won’t know until the end – and what an ending it is.
From beginning to end, Black Christmas is a master class in atmosphere, dread, and tension. Carl Zittrer’s unconventional score is one of a kind and sets the tone for the experience. The cast is excellent – from Margot Kidder and Lynne Griffin, to Olivia Hussey and Keir Dullea – and they all create characters that we care for deeply, even as we’re watching some of them die in horribly creative ways. A sequence involving a murder by way of a glass unicorn is a standout – one of the most iconic scenes in horror history. There are a few things that don’t make much sense – if the killer is in the attic, how in the hell can it be that no one hears him when he is throwing loud temper tantrums? – but if you can manage to overlook these things, you’ll be in for a treat!
Years later, director Bob Clark would direct an altogether different Christmas classic, A Christmas Story.
Shout Factory’s two-disc release is a gem, packed with special features – a major improvement on the previous Blu-ray release from Critical Mass. You’ll want to own this one.