The college town of Bedford is receiving an unwelcome guest this Christmas. As the residents of sorority house Pi Kappa Sigma prepare for the festive season, a stranger begins to stalk the house. A series of obscene phone calls start to plague the residents of the sorority and it becomes clear that a psychopath is homing in on the sisters with dubious intentions. And though the police try to trace the calls, they discover that nothing is as it seems during this Black Christmas.
In BLACK CHRISTMAS, in the college town of Bedford, the sisters of sorority house, Pi Kappa Sigma are having a Christmas party the night before some of them are to go on break. Unfortunately, not only to the girls of Pi Kappa Sigma begin to receive a string of obscene and unwarranted phone calls from a mysterious caller, unbeknown to them, an uninvited guest has made himself at home in the house's attack. Both the stranger, who is later identified only as "Billy", and the calls, are one in the same, as the individual go on a violent killing spree inside the house. This, as Police, the sisters, and the residents of Bedford, search for both missing Pi Kappa Sigma sister Claire Harrison and a local high School student. The High School girl is soon found murdered, while Claire is never found. Why? That's because "Billy" is keeping Claire's cold, dead corpse safe with him in the attic. "Billy" manages to keep his presence unknown to anyone who enter the house. That is, until the Police and Lieutenant Ken Fuller, trace the calls as coming from within the house itself.
Released in 1974 BLACK CHRISTMAS a film written by Roy Moore, and directed by Bob Clark, was essentially the catalyst of the slasher films of the late 70s, and 80s. It introduced a type of film, that was of a "stalk and kill" variety. It is a formula, that would only get more bold as it move along. While these slashers became the realm of the masked killer. lets remember however, that BLACK CHRISTMAS was one that was effective without identifying its killer. It's true that in this film, we never actually see Billy, spare a shot of his hand, along with a brief glance of his face, as well as a mere shadow on the wall. That's all we see in the film, This is what makes the film so fascinating. It is simple, as it portrays its killer, by utilizing a first person view and his voice, proving that, yes, sometimes less, is indeed more.
In it's basic form, BLACK CHRISTMAS is both a film about a murderous intruder, and a whodunit mystery. As the stranger harass with phone calls, the sisters are greeted with several obscene phone calls, all occurring as they prep, and participate in events of the Christmas holiday. When someone begins to seemingly slash his way rhrough various victims, the film also smartly paints characters in a way which set some of them up for accusation. Focus is eventually put on a gentlemen named Peter. Peter is a music student at the school. He's also the boyfriend of Jess, one of the sorority sisters. Peter is one character that the film goes out of it's way to make us believe that he may be the one to blame for the killings. From showing him lose it, and going ballistic following a failed piano recital, to getting quite upset as Jen alerts him of her plans to abort their baby, the film purposely stirs the pot as proverbial fingers point his way. It does this so well, that many people still come away from the film believing that Peter is the killer. Although it has been explained over the years by the filmmakers and cast. "Billy" is "Billy" and that's all we know. And as for the "Agnes" that he speaks of, this has also been kept purposely vague in terms of the original film, as it is left open for individual interpretation. Personally, I agree with others who say that "Agnes" is likely the little sister of "Billy", who he killed along with the rest of the family - with the act driving him insane. Yes, while the 2006 remake was less vague, and even gave Agnes a presence in the film, this film stays thin when it comes to details on this, and in my opinion, it works out better that way.
With this review, I have basically simply summarized this film, as there isn't too much I can say about it. But with that said, BLACK CHRISTMAS is a solid film, that proves simplicity can indeed be scary. This film uses atmosphere better than any other film that I have ever scene, as it is extremely precise in its approach to the aspect. While this is a film that is its most effective during someone's first viewing of it, it is one that people can revisit, and be impressed with its execution each time. Personally, I love the film's overall creeping suspense and atmosphere.
Just when fans of this film thought that that film couldn't look better on Blu-Ray, SCREAM! FACTORY proves us wrong with their new 2K scanned 2016 transfer of BLACK CHRISTMAS, which appears here on disc 1 of this 2 disc set. On disc 2, SCREAM! FACTORY has given us the courtesy of also including the previous HD transfer from the Blu-Ray from CRITICAL MASS. In comparison the new 2016 transfer restores the film's original, and Bob Clark preferred aspect ratio of 1:85:1. This while the CRITICAL MASS Blu-ray release showed the film in a ratio of 1:78:1. As for other aspects of visual performance, to my eye, the color on the 2016 2K scan, is much more balanced with even a little more vibrancy. Before the start of the film on disc 1, SCREAM! FACTORY stresses that they used to digital noise reduction, and has retained the film's natural grain, all while attempting to clean it up. I feel that they have done a great job with this transfer. It is more appealing to the eye, as the previous HD transfer looks a little flat. But the inclusion of both versions here is nice, as you have a choice. As for special features, the collection's second disc is loaded with all of the previously available supplemental material, along with 2 newly produced interview featurettes, which feature Actor Art Hindle("Chris Hayden"), and Actress Lynne Griffin("Claire Harrison").
Below are some details about the new featurettes, as well as time specs for the additionally included features.
"Film and Furs - Remembering Black Christmas with Art Hindle(26m 11s)
In this interview, Art Hindle, who portrayed "Claire Harrison's" boyfriend, "Chris Hayden" in the film, fondly looks back, as he recalls auditioning for the film, with Bob Clark at a hotel, and the time that he stepped in for Kier Dulea as he read as the character "Peter", so that Olivia Hussey(Jess) could practice. He says that later, Clark had told him that he wishes that he would have seen him for this part, prior to casting Dulea in the role. He also goes on to talk about his subsequent friendship with Director Bob Clark that lasted for years, and also a few films, including PORKY'S.
"Victims and Virgins - Remembering Black Christmas with Lynne Griffin(26m 35s)
In this interview Actress Lynne Griffin("Claire Harrison") says that her father was a high fashion photographer, and her mother, an Actress, and then a talent agent, She says that she auditioned a lot during that time portraying ironically a lot of virginal victims. She talks about Black Christmas being a film that broke the mold, that we would see later, of the "bad girl" getting killed first. This followed by she explaining the process and aftermath of her death in the film Lynne also touches on appearing at conventions, as well as working with the difficult cat called "Claude" in the film, as well as her desire to appear in more horror films. Explaining her love for the genre and its fans. The segment closes out, with Lynne telling us what it was like working with Bob Clark, his untimely death, and what BLACK CHRISTMAS means to her.
The other features include :
BLACK CHRISTMAS Legacy (40m 22s)
40th Anniversary Panel At FanExpo 2014 Featuring John Saxon, Art Hindle, Lynne Griffin & Nick Mancuso (18m 02s)
On Screen!: BLACK CHRISTMAS Featurette (48m 41s)
12 Days Of BLACK CHRISTMAS Featurette (19m 48s)
BLACK CHRISTMAS Revisited Featurette (36m 25s)
Archival Interviews With Olivia Hussey, Art Hindle, Margot Kidder, Bob Clark, & John Saxon (1hr 41m 30s)
Midnight Screening Q&A With Bob Clark, John Saxon And Carl Zittrer (20m 21s)
Two Scenes With A New Vocal Soundtrack (3m s)
Original Theatrical Trailers (English And French)
Original TV And Radio Spots
Alternative Title Sequences
2/10 BLACK CHRISTMAS is one of thise films that appears to be more gory than it actually is, because the suspense and terror is just that good. In reality, there is only on kill scene featuing blood, as well as another displaying signs of blood to signify death. All else is just suspenseful imagery
IMPRESSION OF THE FILM
I have been a fan of this movie for years now. It's amazing to think just how complex it feels, while in reality, it is very simple. This makes you think of the film's 2006 remake, and how "normal" a slasher film that movie is. Although I do enjoy the remake a little more these days, than I did on my first viewing of the film for review, it is one that stays in a comfort zone, not daring to be anything different, like the original film in its time. If you've seen this film, then you are already of it's effectiveness. But if not, I do highly recommend it.
Special Features include
- NEW 2016 2K Scan Of The Negative (1.85:1) DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, DTS-HD Master Audio Mono
- Audio Commentary With Director Bob Clark
- Audio Commentary With Actors John Saxon And Keir Dullea
- Audio Commentary With Billy (Actor Nick Mancuso)
- Audio Interview With Director Bob Clark
- 2006 Critical Mass HD Master (1.78:1) DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
- NEW Film And Furs Remembering Black Christmas With Art Hindle
- NEW Victims And Virgins Remembering Black Christmas With Lynne Griffin
- Black Christmas Legacy
- 40th Anniversary Panel At FanExpo 2014 Featuring John Saxon, Art Hindle, Lynne Griffin & Nick Mancuso
- On Screen!: Black Christmas Featurette
- 12 Days Of Black Christmas Featurette
- Black Christmas Revisited Featurette
- Archival Interviews With Olivia Hussey, Art Hindle, Margot Kidder, Bob Clark, & John Saxon
- Midnight Screening Q&A With Bob Clark, John Saxon And Carl Zittrer
- Two Scenes With A New Vocal Soundtrack
- Original Theatrical Trailers (English And French)
- Original TV And Radio Spots
- Alternative Title Sequences
- Still Gallery