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Black Christmas - Blu-ray DVD / horror DVD review
BLACK CHRISTMAS Rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America curledupdvd.com rating: 3 1/2 stars
Actors: Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder, John Saxon, Andrea Martin, Doug McGrath
Director: Bob Clark Distributor: Somerville House
DVD release: 11 November 2008 Runtime: 98 min.
(1 disc)
Format: Color, Dolby, Original recording remastered, Widescreen, Blu-ray
DVD features: 1080p High Definition, Audio tracks (English - Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono, Dolby 5.1 Surround; French - Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), Two newly-discovered original scenes, "The 12 Days of Black Christmas" featurette, Interview segments (Olivia Hussey, Art Hindle and Margot Kidder), Midnight screening Q&A (John Saxon, Bob Clark, and Carl Zittrer)

As the Christmas season approaches, the girls of house Pi Kappa Sig are one by one leaving for the holiday. Some won't return. They start receiving disturbing phone calls, and unbeknownst to them, a mysterious figure has snuck into the attic. Claire Harrison (Lynne Griffin) disappears and fails to meet her father at the expected time. He's worried, but the police blow it off. Barbie Coard (Margot Kidder) and Jess Bradford (Olivia Hussey) help Mr. Harrison (James Edmond) and keep him company as he worries.

More bizarre phone calls come in, frenzied and difficult to understand. A search party is organized in the park, and a girl is found dead. It's not Claire, but it increases the tension and the pressure to find her alive.

Jess discovers that she is pregnant and tells her boyfriend, Peter Smythe (Kier Dullea). Peter decides he should quit school, find a job and get on with the business of starting a family. Jess would rather get an abortion and continue her studies. Peter gets a little nuts about Jess' decision. Is he the killer? Is Claire's boyfriend, Chris Hayden (Art Hindle)? Is it the police Lieutenant Kenneth Fuller (John Saxon)?

Black Christmas is an early example (1974) of what would evolve into a prolific psycho-killer genre. The rules of the genre may well have started here, though they were mostly disregarded later. It's a shame. The examples from the '80s (Halloween, Friday the 13th) had a certain morality. Characters have sex before the first murder. Characters who have sex die and are often the first killed. The girl who survives to the end is chaste, sweet and innocent. Bob Clark doesn't create this path for his film. Jess should have died early on as she was the only one who shows any evidence of having had sex. The killer should have been revealed as someone we knew in the film or at least thought dead. The ending should have been less unsettling by later standards.

Yet I'm glad that the film is what it is. The body count is not enormous, and the budget for gore and latex was small - I feel certain that only a small bottle of Karo syrup was purchased for bloody effects. I was pleasantly surprised. This is not a bad film, and while perhaps not measuring quite up to the caliber of Bob Clark's A Christmas Story, Black Christmas is sure to remain a holiday classic... in some households.
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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