BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review
- Published Date
- by Loron Hays
Bob Clark’s Black Christmas is a masterpiece of horror (and humor) that you truly can deck the halls with. There’s no other way to put it. Oh, the print critics had a field day punting it around at the time of its release, but the joke is on them. Its genre legacy speaks volumes about just how inane critics can be and often are. Perfectly performed and masterfully executed, it is THIS film that created an undying movement in the horror genre and, thanks to Scream Factory, we now have THE DEFINITIVE VERSION to own of this classic movie. Honestly, I couldn’t be more pleased with this release.
I don’t remember when I first became aware of Clark’s film. What I do recall is, from the opening shot as we follow Olivia Hussey into the sorority house to the final frame, the total impact of this film cannot be stated enough. Hussey, always beautiful and always dynamic, brings down the house in the film’s final moments as she confronts the caller who has been tormenting the girls with the most bizarre and obscene telephone calls to EVER be put on film. It is a relentlessly paced finale that covers the very tip-top of the attic to the basement floor and beyond as the killer’s secrets are revealed in shadowy fashion.
Simply put, the horror genre gets NO better than with this creepy tale of a sorority house plagued by a lunatic who is only a phone call away. The film’s director, Clark, is best known for Porky’s and A Christmas Story, but he can absolutely deliver on the promise of a horror film and did so several times throughout his career. My fellow gorehounds already know he directed Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things, but it is with Black Christmas that he delivers his first certified hit for audiences – even if it wasn’t nearly as appreciated upon its release as it is today. Hell, the film is practically revered by all the boils and ghouls out there.
And I am one of them.
The muffled version of “Silent Night” that the film uses is the first of many shocks. The camera angles absolutely explore the inside and the outside of the girls’ house. Shadows descend where no person should be. Closets are used for maximum shock and, my god, the cinematography in the set-up for each and every kill is a glorious reminder of just how fucking creepy movies like this can be. The director of photography, Reginald H. Morris, delivers first-rate shots – focusing on bloodshot eyes through ajar doors, strong close-ups of the girls’ reactions, and traversing the house from all angles – and then never ever settles for static shots.
Written by Roy Moore, Black Christmas is the haunting tale of Jess (Olivia Hussey), the always inebriated Barb (Margot Kidder), the innocent Claire (Lynne Griffin), and Phyllis (Andrea Martin) who, staying at the home over Winter Break, start receiving anonymous obscene calls from an escaped mental patient. Of course, they don’t know that. We don’t either. All we know for sure is that some weirdo is getting off on tormenting these lonely girls day and night. It’s all fun and games until one girl goes missing from the sorority house and a local girl is murdered, leading the girls to suspect a serial killer is on the loose. Co-starring John Saxon, Keir Dullea, and Marian Waldman as the girls’ housemother, Black Christmas is a true cult classic and its loyal following will be absolutely floored by the love that has been pumped into this film’s debut on blu-ray.
And when the shit hits the fan EVERYTHING gets amped up. From Jess’ unexpected announcement to her boyfriend that she wants to abort their unplanned pregnancy to Claire’s confused father who gets more hapless with each passing day that she remains missing, it seems everyone – including the cat – has their own story of which is served by the script. At first, we laugh at the jokes, but there’s absolutely no way ANYONE is chuckling by the film’s unsettling ending…because THERE ARE STILL BODIES IN THE ATTIC.
Good grief. Scream Factory has done us all a favor with this release. There is no better horror film than this Canadian export. Even John Carpenter owes it a debt. This is one film I can never envy anyone who has never seen it because, with every viewing, I find something new to appreciate about it. That, in itself, is the highest compliment a film could ever receive.
Black Christmas – faithfully restored with this new 2k transfer from the film’s original negative – is truly something to celebrate this holiday. So indulge yourself, my fellow freaks. We know you want to. After all, we all know what you did, Billy! Filthy Billy!
Get unwrapped with this cult classic.
MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime: 98 mins
Director: Bob Clark
Writer: Bob Clark
Cast: Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder | See full cast & crew »
Tagline: The sort of Christmas you don't dream of.
Memorable Movie Quote: "I didn't send my daughter in here to be drinking and picking up the boys."
Theatrical Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: December 20, 1974
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: December 13, 2016
Synopsis: During their Christmas break, a group of sorority girls are stalked by a stranger..
Home Video Distributor: Shout Factory
Available on Blu-ray - December 13, 2016
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles: English SDH
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0; English: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set
Region Encoding: Region A
Released and restored by Scream Factory, Black Christmas looks stunning in 1080p. It opens with a statement about the 2k restoration and states that the presentations has been restored to the film’s original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Colors are strong throughout. Black levels are solid, too. I have watched this film on DVD for a number of years and can tell you that the improvements to the textures and to the colors are astounding. Its clarity will take your breath away. The sound is presented in a very clear and dynamic DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 for your listening pleasure.
There are four tracks and each one is something true fans of horror will certainly not want to miss out on. The three commentaries are as follows: one with Director Bob Clark, one with actors John Saxon and Keir Dullea, one with actor Nick Mancuso (the voice of Billy), and an audio interview with Director Bob Clark.
This puppy is loaded with TWO DISCS of bonus material. The first disc houses the 2016 2K Scan Of The Negative (in 1.85:1) and all the commentaries. The second blu-ray disc dishes out the guarded secrets of Bob Clark’s shoot, the actors’ experiences on the set, and lots of good stuff for fans to be treated with. Complete with a slipcover and reversible cover art, Black Christmas from Scream Factory is a definite must-own.
- 2006 Critical Mass HD Master (1.78:1) – DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
- NEW Film And Furs – Remembering Black Christmas With Art Hindle
- NEW Victims And Virgins – Remembering Black Christmas With Lynne Griffin
- Black Christmas Legacy
- 40th Anniversary Panel At FanExpo 2014 Featuring John Saxon, Art Hindle, Lynne Griffin & Nick Mancuso
- On Screen!: Black Christmas Featurette
- 12 Days Of Black Christmas Featurette
- Black Christmas Revisited Featurette
- Archival Interviews With Olivia Hussey, Art Hindle, Margot Kidder, Bob Clark, & John Saxon
- Midnight Screening Q&A With Bob Clark, John Saxon And Carl Zittrer
- Two Scenes With A New Vocal Soundtrack
- Original Theatrical Trailers (English And French)
- Original TV And Radio Spots
- Alternative Title Sequences
- Still Gallery