If you’re looking for a horror movie to watch during this holiday season, then let me recommend Black Christmas (1974), one of the most overlooked slasher movies that preceded Halloween but established a lot of the techniques that John Carpenter used in his much-acclaimed film.
The premise of Black Christmas is quite simple. Directed by Bob Clark, the Canadian horror flick focuses on a group of sorority sisters who are a tormented by anonymous phone calls that put them on edge when all they want to do is make plans for their holiday break. The film is loosely based on the urban legend of a killer who torments a babysitter and tells her to “check on the children,” and it is based on murders that occurred in Montreal.
So what makes Black Christmas different than other slasher films? For one, it predates the slasher wave that started in the late 1970s and peaked in the 1980s. It is generally a more innovative and unsettling film compared to all of the Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, and Halloween sequels, too. Black Christmas is a film heavy on atmosphere, from the location of the house to the squeal of violins in the soundtrack. The sorority sisters are picked off one by one, but the gore is never gratuitous. More unsettling than the deaths are the unnerving phone calls that follow.
The film also established the technique of creating a point of view from the killer’s perspective, which has been used countless times since, most notably in John Carpenter’s Halloween, which opens with a shot from a young Michael Myers’ POV, as he is about to murder his older sister, Judith. Carpenter uses this technique several times throughout the film, as Michael stalks Laurie Strode (Jaimee Lee Curtis) and her friends.
If you’re looking for a horror movie this holiday season, then check out Black Christmas. The film still holds up well and is generally creepy, especially its conclusion. It plays on the worst fears of every babysitter, and it is a lot more original than the nauseating slasher wave that followed.
If you have any Christmas horror movie recommendations, feel free to share!