Thursday, December 22, 2011

silent night, evil night: a guest post by karen g.

The smell of cookies baking in the oven. Festive music fills the air. Visions of sugarplums and vodka fairies dance in my head. Yes boys and girls, it’s that wonderfully warm time of year again, when everyone’s a little nicer, a little more optimistic and filled with joy and hope.

And what’s more festive than a deranged serial killer stalking a group of students in a sorority house on Christmas Eve? Don’t be fooled by Bob Clark’s classic A Christmas Story, there were much more sinister yuletide forces at work in Clark’s mind when he brought us my holiday favorite Black Christmas (1974).

Starring a wonderfully cynical Margot Kidder as “Barb” and an overly-stressed Olivia Hussey as “Jess”, this cult classic has every creepy suspense element to make your hair stand on end from start to finish.

The young students, thinking they are just dealing with an obscene caller during the holidays, pay little attention to the increasingly threatening tone of our mysterious prankster. At one point in the movie, “Barb” jokes around with the caller until he replies: “I am going to kill you,” then quickly hangs up the phone.

The tension grows, as creepy camera angles sweep around the sorority house and more and more bodies drop, and the stomach-turning score by Carl Zittrer works well to keep you on the edge of your seat. Creaks in the ceiling, footsteps in the basement, and jolts every time the telephone rings.

While the 2006 remake had its fair share of scares, nothing comes close to the original film. An instant cult classic due to its legendary status of being based on a true story (a series of murders that took place in Quebec during Christmas time in the 1970s).

Look out for campy roles by Andrea Martin as the clueless sorority mother and an appearance by John Saxon as the police lieutenant, trying to assure the girls that they are merely dealing with a prank caller, nothing more.

When things do become more sinister, “Jess” works to keep the caller on the phone long enough for the police to trace the call, which of course, is coming from inside the house.

Black Christmas gained a cult following for being one of the first “slasher films” that is said to have inspired later films such as Halloween and Friday the 13th. If you’re ever in need of a break from the more traditional Christmas movies, check out this little gem. I assure you it will have you checking that your doors are locked twice, and that you’ve been less naughty and more nice!