Friday, December 8, 2017

Black Christmas (1974)

Over the weekend, I watched Black Christmas off my DVR. It's available on Blu-ray, although the research I did seems to imply that only the early 2000s remake is in print on DVD.

The movie starts off innocently enough, at a sorority house in one of those stereotypical university towns that seemed to populate studio-era movies. (Black Christmas was actually filmed in Canada although it's set in the US as evidenced by the American flags on police uniforms.) The sisters are getting ready to go home for Christmas, or elsewhere to get away from college, and doing the typical things young, sex-obsessed women do. The phone rings, and Jess (Olivia Hussey) picks it up. Dammit, it's that obscene caller again! (What was the deal with obscene callers in the 1970s?)

Meanwhile, outside, we see somebody trying to get into the sorority house, although we only see it from that unknown person's point of view. Eventually, the person get into the house through an attic window, and eventually makes it down to the second floor, where he hides in a closet in one of the bedrooms. It's Claire's bedroom, the poor thing. She doesn't know what's about to hit her.

The next day, Claire's father is waiting at the university to pick her up, but of course she doesn't show, and we know why. Eventually, Dad goes over to the sorority house to find out what's going on. Meanwhile, Jess has her own personal problems involving her boyfriend Peter (Keir Dullea) who's knocked her up, although he doesn't know because she's planning to get an abortion without his knowledge. If he knew, he'd have a shit fit. Peter, for his part, is studying at the conservatory, although it doesn't look as though he's really going to make it as a concert pianist.

Everybody goes to the police station to report Claire missing. Our mysterious intruder goes back into the sorority house, and kills another woman. And the obscene phone calls keep coming. It goes on like this until....

Well, I'm not about to give that ending away. I have to say, though, that I found Black Christmas hugely entertaining, and fairly well constructed in that a lot of what happens at the end is hinted at but not made obvious. There are a few minor plot holes (wouldn't there be somebody staying with Jess at the very end?), but nothing nearly enough to cause problems. Sure, Black Christmas is never going to be looked at in the same way prestige movies are, but there are a lot of times when you just want to be entertained, and Black Christmas succeeds spectacularly in that regard.

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