Monday, May 23, 2016

100 Best Horror Movies Ever: Black Christmas

It’s an exciting day, folks! The first entry into my 100 Best Horror Movies Ever Challenge – and we’re starting with the classic slasher (some might say The Classic Slasher), Black Christmas. It’s the original “he’s calling from inside the house” movie, as well as one of the first slashers. Yes, Black Christmas is the awkward older sister of Halloween; it did much, influenced many, and yet gets so little credit.

To be fair, this movie is missing most of the tension, and the soundtrack, that makes Halloween so memorable. On the other hand, Black Christmas makes up for it with some seriously disturbing phone calls, some good creepy moments, and some truly ahead of its time material. I was surprised and delighted that Olivia Hussey’s main “good girl”/final girl was a driven woman who’d rather get an abortion than marry her weird, controlling boyfriend. This is not because I love abortions – I mean, only so much as the next lady who’s actively trying not to reproduce – but because that sort of character a) is not that common even today, and b) totally subverts the idea that all final girls are bookish, God-fearing virgins. The Blu-ray version of Black Christmas that I have includes interviews with some of the cast, and Margot Kidder gave us this gem of a quote: “It was the late 60s, early 70s, and we were saying and doing anything… these days, you have all the damn Christians down your throat.”

And that about sums it up, doesn’t it? Dare I say movies, like all art, could easily suffer a bit from our current preoccupation with political correctness (Donald Trump, who is likely the backlash of this pro-PC  movement incarnate, aside)? The horror genre, however, has always thrived in the face of “decency” and “morality,” and continues to thrive in adverse and frightening social conditions. And that’s why it’s great.

A few other points: Margot Kidder’s character. She’s never onscreen without a cigarette or a cocktail! She also has a really dirty mouth and a sense of humor (that fellatio joke fell flat for me, but it really worked for those cops); she’s the one I’d hang out with in this sorority house. And (spoiler alert for this 50-year-old movie) I appreciated that in her interview, Olivia Hussey noted that it was kind of ridiculous that the police never bothered to search the attic after her character bludgeoned Peter to death. There are corpses stashed all over this house! People are still missing! And the cops are just like, “Case closed, peace.”

...As am I, and thus ends the first post of this challenge. One movie down, 99 to go. As always, you can follow my antics (and occasional movie live tweets) on Twitter, under the hashtag #100BestHorrorMoviesEver. Next up: Repulsion.

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