14 Days of Christmas Horror | Black Christmas (1974)

We guide you through 14 days of Christmas Horror. We’re ending our two-week countdown on a high with a look at the original Black Christmas. 

black christmas 1

‘Tis may be the season for romantic comedies set in idyllic English cottages or whimsical tales of elves lost in New York, but if you’re in the mood for something a little more gory, we’ve got your back.

We guide you through 14 days of Christmas Horror. We’re ending our two-week countdown on a high with a look at the most iconic, ultimate Christmas horror, the original Black Christmas

We have arrived at the very end of our series. What better way to end it than by delving into perhaps the most iconic Christmas horror of all time, the original Black Christmas

Not only is Black Christmas iconic as a Christmas classic, but just as a slasher in general. We often regard John Carpenter’s Halloween as the most iconic slasher that kickstarted the whole genre in 1978. In fact, Carpenter was very much inspired by Black Christmas

The film, directed by Bob Clark, is loosely based on the urban legend of “the babysitter and the man upstairs”, in which a babysitter receives phone calls from an unknown caller, asking them to check on the children, only to later find the children dead in their beds and in many variations the babysitter also dies. 

black christmas

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

In Black Christmas, there are no babysitters, the action takes place in a sorority house. Most of the sorority sisters meet their gory, grisly ends at the hands of the killer, whom we know as ‘Billy’, but whose identity is never revealed, adding to our terror. 

Many regard Black Christmas as one of the earliest feminist horror films. While the 2019 remake amped this up to completely new heights, the 1974 original was groundbreaking in its own ways. 

One of the main characters, Jess (Olivia Hussey) is seen to be pregnant and she decides to get an abortion, which angers her boyfriend. In the wake of the US Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, Black Christmas feels more timely than ever. 

As so often with slashers, there’s also a lot of misogyny and Clark also highlights the incompetence of the police, who not only dismiss the sorority’s concerns about the caller and the disappearances, but are completely useless at stopping the killer. 

black christmas 1974

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Wes Craven’s Scream, which is largely seen as having revitalised the slasher genre in 1996, also owes a lot to Black Christmas. The film begins with the iconic sequence of Casey (Drew Barrymore) answering the phone with the killer on the line, only to find the killer hiding in her house. Sounds familiar, right? 

Ghostface, much like Jason, Michael Myers and so many other iconic slasher killers, are also ‘faceless’, much like Billy, There is something infinitely terrifying about a killer without a recognisable, human face. 

While Black Christmas wasn’t warmly received at the time of its release, it’s found new life within contemporary movie fans and continues to fascinate and frighten audiences with its timeless politics and impeccable scares.

Leave a Reply

More like this