Christmas horror is a subgenre all on its own. Funny enough, I’d wager there are more Christmas horror movies than there are Halloween ones, and the original Black Christmas may very well be the first significant entry. It’s also a clear, direct influence on Halloween (1978), so it counts as historic viewing.
I’ll tell you, there’s all kinds of emotional dissonance going on to watch a slasher movie outside of Halloween season, that has abundant Christmas music and caroling throughout. Feels weird. It also feels strange to acknowledge that this was directed by Bob Clark, of A Christmas Story fame. Some of the cinematography and directorial flourishes are reminiscent of that, but it also features a killer that makes obscene phone calls from the attic of a sorority house and threatens sexual violence on college students.
The influence on Halloween is undeniable. There are POV shots from the killer, victims being picked off one by one, bodies hidden to be discovered at a dramatic moment, an obnoxious character you can’t wait to be offed, and a final girl. The original Halloween is a pretty slow movie, but Black Christmas is positively glacial in comparison. The body count is fairly low, and like so many low budget movies pre-1980, even the reasonably basic plot can be hard to follow due to muddy dialogue and an overall lack of clarity. In other words, this one was a little hard to sit through at times.
For horror history buffs, this is obviously a staple. Necessary viewing for that crowd. For those just looking for an effective horror movie, there are better options. But, probably not either of the two remakes…