FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Aug 4, 2009

I Heart: Black Christmas

Originally, I'd intended this post to be one of those quickie afternoon delights in the "Scenes I Love" series: a screen cap, a comment (or not), in, out, wham, bam, I would say "thank you ma'am" but now I'm all itchy and burny and worried, done. Then I ran afoul of a most serious problem, one entirely unrelated to my itchy and burny condition: see, once I start thinking about Black Christmas, I can't stop. Choosing just one scene in the film to highlight was impossible, because I heart the whole damn thing. Of course, I've talked about this movie so many times that you probably already know of my unhealthy obsession with it; this post, for example, talks a bit about why I'm so cuckoo for...err...for...Black...Christmas...puffs.

Wow, that's bad. But my intentions are true! I couldn't pick one favorite scene over any other, so I decided to simply list a bunch of reasons why I Heart Black Christmas.

And if you think I'm talking about the 2006 version, then...well, I was going to say that Final Girl may not be the place for you, but that's not true. I welcome all! You like what you like, I'll like what I like, and we'll still be friends. Fear not, for I see your true colors shining through and they are, in fact, beautiful like a rainbow. Like a rainbow made of macaroni.

Seriously though, I fucking hated Black Christmas '06. But here are eleven reasons why I love the original film!

1. The booze wreath

Sorority sister Barb has a wee bit of an alcohol problem, only in that she's always drunk and even proffers booze to kids at the holiday party. Maybe she acknowledges her weakness via holiday crafts; maybe the girls gave it to her as a joke. Whatever the case, I want one.

2. The phone tap

3. The body in the park

Mr Harrison is relieved to discover that the body of a young girl found in the park is not that of his missing daughter, Claire. She was still someone's daughter, however. It's unclear whether or not the girl was killed by the sorority house killer; there's a possibility that it's a tragedy entirely unrelated to the tragedy about to unfold a block away, meaning there are two killers in this tiny college town.

4. The body in the attic

Her last breath was an inhalation.

5. The bodies in the bedroom

Finding the bodies of all your friends has become such a slasher trope it's entirely expected in this day and age. Though John Carpenter really popularized the archetypical scene in Halloween, Bob Clark was doing that up in Canada years earlier.

6. The phone calls

They just get to me, what can I say?

7. Death by crystal unicorn

This really needs no explaining, but in case you don't get it: someone is killed WITH A CRYSTAL UNICORN.

8. The abortion subplot

Hey, remember the days when there was a bit of characterization, even in slasher films? Yeah, me too.

9. Margot Kidder

Speaking of characterization, how 'bout that Barb, huh? Everyone loves the "Fellatio 2-0880" bit, sure, but it's the "Mating Rituals of Turtles" bit that's really the keeper. Barb's the obnoxious, embarrassing drunk that no one really likes- including her own mother- and it's in the moments after she makes a fool of herself when Barb lets on that she knows no one likes her, so why should she be anything but her obnoxious, embarrassingly drunken self? Kidder brings it, y'all.

10. The eye

Recently good ol' Arbogast left a comment on one of my posts: "Nothing, but nothing, beats an eye looking through a hole." Now, to be honest, I have no idea whether or not he meant it. I have difficulty telling sometimes. I, however, agree with the sentiment..and while Black Christmas employs "eye through crack" instead of "eye through hole", it really doesn't get any better than this shot. Really. It's completely terrifying.

11. That moustache on the left

Sorry for the oversight: this film deserves three entries in the Horror Moustache Hall of Fame, not a mere two.

There are people who do not like Black Christmas. As you may have gathered, not one of them.


Anonymous said...

Mating rituals of turtles...that just takes me back to my Walt Disney World vacation in '04 where my sister, infant niece, now brother-in-law and I were waiting for the other family members to get out of a ride in Animal Kingdom. And we see two turtles doing it in the open. Who says Disney censors everything? :)

Anonymous said...

That fucking eye gave me nightmares...

Verdant Earl said...

I am in absolute lust with this film.

I wanna take it home and make babies with it.

(and yet I wanna stab the remake in it's little baby seal heart. I said it.)

Thomas Pluck said...

Admittedly slasher films are my least favorite horror. I watched Black Christmas at the urging of slasher fans and I was not disappointed. Bob Clark is really an amazingly under-appreciated film maker; he not only gave us this, but Porky's and A Christmas Story. Let's forgive him for Baby Geniuses, sort of like how we forgive Amy Heckerling for Look Who's Talking.

This is one of the few slashers that really got to me. I always like a bit of supernatural in my horror, such as Mr. Krueger, but this one, the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Last House on the Left are the ones that always stay with me.

Stacie Ponder said...

"Mating rituals of turtles...that just takes me back..." You know, it's not often comments begin that way. :D

Amy Heckerling directed Look Who's Talking? Wow. I had no idea. Or maybe I knew that and I forgot.

Where the hell has she been, anyway??

Bob Clark was truly one of the greats. It's so sad he's gone...from a selfish standpoint, it's even sadder since he was just starting to jump back into horror.

P. K. Nail said...

I love this movie, and it's one of the few that genuinely gets under my skin. Maybe the fact that you never really see the killer (other than brief, partial glimpses) or know who he is (other than what we can piece together from the calls and the tiny bit of dialogue). And then there's the fact that he isn't caught or killed in the end and could be hiding in my attic right now!!

I also love the story Olivia Hussey told about meeting Steve Martin, who is apparently a huge fan of this movie and went to see it 27 times.

Richard Doyle said...

Only 2 slasher films contain killers that legitimately frighten me ... "Black Christmas" and "When a Stranger Calls". The combination of those truly disturbing phone calls and the scene involving that shot of his eye creeps me out no matter how many times I see this film.

The Grand Groovy Ghoul said...

I've always meant to watch this film, but never got around to renting it. That said, I love the tag line:

"If your skin doesn't crawl, then it's on too tight!"

Tim said...

Agreed about the eye-a great early example is in the 1940s version of The Spiral Staircase, which I highly recommend if you want to see a slasher-ancestor.

Moorhead said...

Whatever other problems I have with the original Black Christmas, what is brilliant and can never be duplicated is that phone tap scene. Seriously, that alone should've stopped the folks from doing the remake. It's just a giant red flag that this cannot be improved upon.

Missy Y. (formerly A Case of You) said...

for me... it's all about the kidder. i mean, when she says, "you're a real gold-plated whore, mother," i nearly die. i seriously can't take it.

i have been kidderized.

Anonymous said...

"Bob Clark was truly one of the greats. It's so sad he's gone...from a selfish standpoint, it's even sadder since he was just starting to jump back into horror."

I try and pretend he was unaware of the 2006 remake. But the original is pure horror brilliance. Slasher films have reached a point of boredom to me, but Black Christmas still freaks me out in a wonderful way.

My brief thoughts..

mike snoonian said...

I missed the boat on this movie and watch it for the first time a few months ago and it was amazing.

Margot Kidder is my all time favorite 70's super babe. I love everything about her during this era.

I think you could have added that last lingering shot of the exterior of the house and then the phone ringing. It was such a perfect, understated creepy twist ending.

Fans of Bob Clark should check out Death Dream-the defintive O Henry meets the Vietnam War zombie story.

Antaeus Feldspar said...

Just watched the flick - oh, so damn good! So much restraint, so much terror wrung out of letting you *know* the danger was near but not letting the characters know it.

On the subject of the booze wreath, I could be mistaken, but wasn't that on Barb's door, rather than Mrs. MacReady's?

Stacie Ponder said...

Naw, you're totally right- it's on Barb's door. Don't know why I brain-farted on that. Hmm...guess I should change it! Glad you enjoyed the movie. 'Tis a classic.