Black Christmas - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Black Christmas Reviews

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Super Reviewer
December 19, 2013
best christmas movie ever
Super Reviewer
February 15, 2011
It's a shame that slasher genre and all it's settings and twists had become clichéd, because this movie established most of them for the first time. Although the dark humour, girls and some disturbing happenings make up for it.
Super Reviewer
January 30, 2008
Creepy atmospheric stalk and slash classic. Not very graphic violence wise neither is there a huge body count either, but it's a very well made and put together little movie that proves to be very effective. It's also a christmas themed movie... love christmas movies! Those seeking a kill-a-minute gore drenched slasher with a mongloid faced killer look elsewhere.
Super Reviewer
December 16, 2010
Here is the grandmother of the slasher film, four years before Halloween. Black Christmas' power is impossible to deny; its characters are compelling, the imagery poignant, and the acting top-notch. It's no great wonder that John Carpenter would cite this repeatedly in his own seminal film, also an independent horror production with a tiny budget. For the most part, he not only duplicated, but multiplied the success found in this film, as most horror fans would concede that Halloween probably holds up much better than Black Christmas in terms of scares. It still remains surprisingly tense, but it sort of whiffs the climactic set piece, and much of its energy has been stolen from the films it left in its wake. This doesn't do much to discount its incredibly sharp script - Margot Kidder clearly relishes every line given to her - or the sinister flourishes that populate this snowy, quiet universe. Absolutely essential viewing for any horror fan, especially those with slashy inclinations.
Super Reviewer
September 5, 2010
A classic horror movie! From the director of A Christmas Story too! The actors are kind of average, but the story is good, and the movie is really scary. Plus, the ending is perfect. I love this movie.
Super Reviewer
½ April 10, 2007
A mostly unimpressive, easy to forget Canadian horror film that like a lot of R-rated movies in the early 70s had more fun with shock, swearing and being dirty than actually telling a great story. This isn't to say that Black Christmas was completely without its moments, it just didn't seem to live up to its potential. The main story was pretty basic and the seemingly related sideplot between Olivia Hussey and Keir Dullea was kind of dull. I was waiting to see Margot Kidder's character get a little more fleshed out than wind up being a carbon copy of the impression of her mother we're left with. The lush housemother was kind of a kick, though. All this and Black Christmas a l m o s t had me with the last 5 minutes but it had to drop the ball there too.
Super Reviewer
June 19, 2006
Now this is how you make a slasher film! I'm a major fan of Halloween, but this came first, so a lot of the things Halloween gets attributed for pioneering and doing so well were actually done first with this film. That's not to say that John Carpenter totally ripped Bob Clark off, but the resemblences with shots, camera placements, and concepts is very striking.

This has a fairly decent body count (7), but it's not really gory, which I think is a great thing. Oh, there's blood and some brief gruesome images, but the film is more effective by leaving stuff to the imagination. The pacing is slow and not a lot happens during the movie, so it can be easy to get impatient and bored, but trust me, it's worth to stick with the film.

The pacing actually really adds to the tone, mood, and atmosphere of things. What this film lacks in mayhem it makes up for in sades with style, intensity, and some very creepy and unsettling moments. This is a really tense and unnvercing film. It's an excercise in dread and fear. It's a shame more films don't follow suit in this regard.

The cast is pretty good. Marian Walman is good as a crotchety old drunk, and Margot Kidder is a real scene stealer as the token drunken, vulgar bitch. She's a lot of fun to watch, and I think she's better here than she is as Lois Lane. Keir Dullea is great in a role of creeiness and ambiguity, and, even though she's not bad, Olivia Hussey is actually a little underwhelming. Also, this is one of many films in which John Saxon plays a cop. Actually, outside of Enter the Dragon, I don't that man ever played anything but cops. He's good at it, which is probably why he did it so much.

The whole concept is great, which is probably why it's been done a lot sense: a dark story centered around a normally cheerful holiday. For a Christmas movie, it's not only dark, it's actually really twisted. Some of it might seem a little tame by today's standards, but the obscene phone call sequences must have been quite a shocker in 1974, especially with the c-word being used roughly a dozen times . What's funny though, is that nine years after this movie, Bob Clark made another Christmas movie, a nice little gem you might know called "A Christmas Story". The funny part is how, even though this is deadly serious, and that is supposed to be a comedy, it's not excatly the most upbeat film in the world either. It's not as twisted, but its got a similar level of mean spiritedness.

You need to be in the right kind of mood to really get into this one, but if a slow, twisted, and downright creepy and alarming slasher film that's artsy is what you want, then get a copy of this and have at it.
Super Reviewer
½ August 14, 2007
To those of you Halloween fans, This is the film that came first, John Carpenter's Halloween is doused with aspects lifted directly from Bob Clark's Black Christmas. Alongside Psycho it remains one of my personal classics. Very unnearving and in parts horrific - the phone calls for instance. Basically its Christmas time, as the title suggests and an unknown killer has found his way into the attic of a sorority girls house and begins killing them one by one. Kidder's performance of the drunken, outspoken Barb is fantastic, followed closely by Olivia Hussey, who is truly beautiful in this movie. The camera work and direction is first rate, the first person perspective, heavy breathing - which most will know from Halloween, Mr Clark did it here first, and in my opinion, did it better than JC. It's not full of gore its full of suspense and wonderful creepy atmosphere, as I mentioned before, the phone calls really will put you on edge, as will the 'eye' scene. Get ready for a shocking ending and watch it again for all the bits that you didn't catch, believe me there will be some. Alongside Jacob's Ladder, Don't Look Now and The Fog this really is one of the most frightening films I have ever had the pleasure to acquire.

You've made it through Halloween, now try to survive Christmas.
Super Reviewer
½ August 4, 2010
This movie scared the pants off of me! All those elaborate, nonsense, freaky telephone calls put me into a stupor, and Billy just lurking around the sorority house, no back story no nothing, was actually quite refreshing. The ending was a bit of a bummer, but overall it was decent.
The Gandiman
Super Reviewer
July 12, 2010
his granddaddy (or grandmommy?) of slasher flicks has flaws; but this underground classic predates blockbusters such as Halloween and Friday the 13th and you can see the influence it held over them. Genuinely creepy.
Super Reviewer
June 9, 2010
Black Christmas is one of the very first slasher films. This is probably the second slasher film ever made, the first being Psycho in 1960. Black Christmas is a tense, terrifying film, and whats great about it is the filmmakers are more interested in building tension and suspense that going all out and do bloody kills. Sure it's bloody, but compared to later films, this film is nothing compared to the slasher films of the 1980's. Black Christmas is almost unforgotten in the sense that, everyone gives Halloween the credit of starting the big slasher film boom of the 1980's, but this film predates Halloween by four years.I don't know why this film got forgotten about, but it still is one fine horror film and a truly terrifying film at that.
Super Reviewer
December 4, 2009
A perfect example of 70s horror and one of the most original plots for its time. It's one of the first slasher films without really even being one. It has a great suspense quality that still has the power to affect its viewer. The fear of the unknown is always the most unnerving. I loved the twist at the end, absolutely perfect. I also loved the fact that it had a great sense of humor without being cheesy or overly campy. The shooting style of the film truly makes it the classic it is, it is like no other.
Super Reviewer
½ December 30, 2009
Does he have multiple personality disorder? Is he a sex maniac that's been calling for months and now looking for a different vocation? Is he mentally deficient, speaking in tongues, but possessed of enough faculties to search the phone book for the number under the attic where he's stowed up? The mystery of the killer is impenetrable, and not completely in a good way. I was looking to exorcise myself of the commercial spirit of Christmas songs still playing everywhere, but there's really no subtext on Christmas here. It could be called "The Psycho Night Before the Girls Went Home for a Scheduled Vacation."

The humor -- which includes an alky house mother's pleasure at hiding and discovering whiskey -- in the movie is awful. (I've never found Bob Clark funny without Jean Shephard.) We see Margot Kidder fritter away a promising performance on bad lines. As a college slattern, she seems way older than her real age at the time. A very young-looking Andrea Martin (!) is great in her non-comic role. John Saxon's cop bit would provide a good performance as either the BEST CHIEF EVER of a small town's police force or a proficient homicide detective in NYC. Kier Delea is good as a music grad student who is scary in the uh-oh-I'm-already-going-out-with-him kind of way, in contrast to the killer's inchoate hysterics.

But besides the boyfriend, the movie doesn't show us much else in the drama of real life that compares, evocatively anyway, with the killer's project. The subtextual fear of Black Christmas seems to be: if you walk away from your parents/kin for an hour, let alone start making adult choices on your own, you are increasing your statistical likelihood of being murdered ... which I suppose is true, but you are also increasing the statistical likelihood by going out for ice cream.

As a director, Clark has shown me a lot of bad taste with some flashes of energy, and there are lot of those here. Also a lot of subjective camera. With the lensing and without Halloween's steadcam, it makes it seem like the perspective of a deranged killer is of someone cross-eyed. (There's a theory: tormented from his youth because his family could not afford an ophthalmologist, he decided to kill. It's as good as any theory you can take from the movie.)

The best shots here are cross-cuts of a phone operator at headquarters chasing a phone signal from motor, to bell, to connection to connection as he's trying to pin down where the maniac is making his phone calls.

To be honest, I ended up liking Black Christmas b/c Clark creates a tenebrous atmosphere where reasons evaporate, and the audience always knows where the danger is coming from, which can be a lot of pressure for an audience. And let me say that the performance and the dialogue of the phone operator was among the best in the movie, a lesson for writing "non-movie," prosaic conversation of secondary characters. I'm being serious.
Super Reviewer
January 31, 2010
This wasn't really boring. But still I'll give this 2 star because it wasn't even that good.
Super Reviewer
September 23, 2007
Oh the heady days when the women smoked, said c*nt and didn't get throttled with their tits out.
One of Black Christmas's chief pleasures is it's spunky women (pun most certainly NOT intended). Of course it's a slasher flic and they're all here to be victims but at least they are funny, sassy and likable enough for you to give a damn if they live or get throttled - sensible but vulnerable Olivia Hussey, sparky and sexy Margot Kidder (very pre-Superman) and of course the curmudgeonly and inebriated 'Mrs Mac' (Marian Waldman instead of Bette Davis is still marvelous) looking for that s.o.b. cat. Keir Dullea seems thoroughly bored but he often does and he's only there as a red herring anyway.
A gleeful delight in the macabre keeps things going nicely - Norman Bates had his mummified mother in the cellar, this giggling mentalist sits in the attic taunting us with a suffocated sorority sister in a rocking chair and a throttled house-keeper while our unknowing heroines get festive downstairs!
Even after nearly 30 years, it still manages to be deeply unsettling - the horribly screechy obscene phonecalls ("Filthy Billy, I know what you did nasty Billy!" "Let me lick your pretty piggy cunt!") the staring eye through the crack of the door, the asphyxiated corpse in the attic window and its perfect 'rug-pulling' open ending.
Merry bleeding Christmas...
Super Reviewer
½ August 30, 2009
Stellar. Creepy as ****.
Super Reviewer
July 26, 2008
Sorority house is terrorized by obscene phone caller. Then people start disappearing. Early slasher film is an influential slice of horror which actually predates Halloween by 4 years. Doesn't seem particularly innovative today because of the hundreds of horror films that came after it. However this film does have some dramatically menacing scenes. Exploitative in the way most slasher films are, but it is particularly notable for the way it treats the murders with more gravity. A good horror film, just not a great one.
Super Reviewer
½ April 2, 2007
Often said to be one of the first or best slasher films, personally I just didn't gel with it. I didn't care about any of the characters, or at least not enough. I found the set up long and boring, and while the action did pick up the ending left too much up in the air. It's not all bad though, the murders aren't particularly gory but they are still very arresting, and the phone calls are downright disturbing. But all of that only bought it an extra star from me.
Super Reviewer
½ June 7, 2007
It's way too slow and never really generates any thrills.
I give it respect for being the precursor to the slasher genre but that doesn't mean I have to like it.
Super Reviewer
½ February 2, 2008
The rarest of horror films - a slasher where I care about the victims, and a movie that pulls off the "killer is in the house" angle very well. With likeable characters, actual acting, and the few bits of violence coming off as genuinely terrifying, Black Christmas is an undoubted classic. Superior to Friday the 13th and just a rung below Nightmare on Elm Street, this is like Halloween with less blood and without the tight action-movie editing. Also, the killer's eyes scared the absolute shit out of me. People don't call this a classic for no reason - it is. All you need is a plastic bag and a noose.... (well not all you need, but this movie makes damn good use of just those two things).
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