Sororities, Slashers, and Sex: Why You Should All Watch "Black Christmas" Tonight

There are a lot of great, freaky, spine-chilling Halloween movies out there. Every October, I make a list of all the scary movies I’ve never seen that I want to watch that month, from campy classics to lesser-known gems I discover late at night on message boards. This past Sunday, while recovering from all the, ah, fun I had on Saturday night, I popped in the original Black Christmas from 1974. I am NOT talking about the 2006 remake, so just remove that mess of a Katie Cassidy vehicle from your pretty little head. Usually, if I’ve gone this long without seeing a particular scary movie, there’s a reason. It’s stupid-but-not-in-a-fun-way, or really boring, or simply doesn’t provide the thrills. So my expectations for Black Christmas were low. Little did I realize, I was about to watch ONE OF THE COOLEST SCARY MOVIES EVER!!!!!!!! Here’s why:

  • Black Christmas is generally considered to be one of the first (if not the first) slasher films. Which is to say, it’s one of the earliest movies to feature a mysterious stalker, sexy teenage victims, a secluded location, camera shots from the POV of the killer, lurching, creepy music, and graphic, bloody deaths. And boy does it deliver! Plus, you can feel good about watching it since it’s, like, a lesson into the history of the horror movie genre. Right?
  • It’s based on an urban legend. You know, the one where the babysitter starts getting increasingly weird and scary prank phone calls so she has the police trace them and it turns out the call is coming from… inside the house!
  • It’s also based on a series of real murders that occurred in Quebec around Christmas time.
  • This is a cross-genre movie in that it can be watched at both Halloween and Christmas. Double the pleasure, double the fun.
  • The movie is super 70s and therefore super fun to watch. The clothing is amazing: lots of collared shirts, vests, bell bottoms, and cute collegiate sweaters. Also, I coveted all the girls’ geometric bedding, even as they were getting bloodily murdered upon it.
  • This movie is also super 70s in its depiction of the sorority house. Forget everything you saw in Legally Blonde. The sorority in Black Christmas is uber-feminist, basically a house of liberated, intelligent women who stand up for themselves and don’t take sh*t from anybody. Whether they’re tricking a dumb cop into using the word “fellatio” around the office (he has no clue what it means) or thoughtfully discussing abortion, these girls aren’t girls at all but women, and they know what’s up. Throughout, I kept thinking, they would never make this movie today. When was the last time you saw a female lead who talked back to men, cursed, smoked cigarettes, didn’t want to have her boyfriend’s baby, and was still considered likable and a hero?
  • Finally, it’s genuinely scary. Lots of original, creepy deaths (including one using a UNICORN CHRISTMAS ORNAMENT!), disgustingly obscene phone calls, suspenseful twists and turns, and a mysterious ending that leaves room for interpretation. Did I mention the unicorn Christmas ornament?

I’m so impressed that this movie exists, despite the fact that it garnered a less-than-steller critical reception at the time of its release. And while it’s something of a mixed message that these awesome, forward-thinking, 70s feminists all end up brutally murdered in their beds, I’m still happy there’a  movie where strong women are presented as the norm as opposed to an anomaly. Plus, it’s a freaky-deaky good time for all, so dim the lights, leave out some candy for the kiddies, and “treat” yourself (see what I did there?) to a deliciously spine-tingling 1974 thrill ride.

Image via