It’s another Joe Bob mini-marathon on Shudder, and this time it was just the sort of thing we love for the Holiday season… Christmas horror! Because what is more horrifying than Christmas? It’s cold and gets dark earlier, and we actually celebrate telling small children about a garishly-dressed home-invader who offers them gifts. We’ll be reviewing all three movies of this marathon one at a time. This time we’ll start with the holiday “classic” Black Christmas.

Black Christmas (1974)

Opening Rant: “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is communist propaganda.

Black Christmas is the 1974 proto-slasher horror film that follows sorority girls being hunted, stalked, and murdered by a mysterious killer in their own sorority house during, you guessed it, Christmas. The film is loosely based on an urban legend about a baby sitter and a killer in the attic.

Black Christmas stars Margot Kidder, John Saxon, Keir Dullea, Olivia Hussey, and Andrea Martin. Bob Clark, a journeyman director with a very strange body of work, puts together a pretty competent film. The film is mostly known for some memorable performances and being one of the first real holiday-horror films. It is sometimes mistakenly referred to as one of the first slashers, however. But Joe Bob will set that straight.

The film’s largest claim to fame, however, may be the very divisive ending that you either love or hate.

This film spends more time on the phone than my grandparents during the holidays.

Review

Drive-In Fashion Show: Joe Bob dazzles in a red and white reindeer-patterned holiday blazer with a turquoise (spider?) bolo tie.

Black Christmas is a Christmas horror staple due to inertia than being of any particular merit. Joe Bob Briggs awarded the film three stars, which is perfectly respectable. He noted, a bit jokingly, that the film is a landmark in “Canadian horror,” which is true in many ways but also doesn’t really see “Canadian horror” as a thing. Of course, Darcy is a fan of Canadian horror, making her the ally Haunted MTL needs.

Joe Bob’s segments during the film are as insightful and interesting as ever. Some particular highlights include discussion of the very eclectic career of Director Bob Clark, the “get” that Keir Dullea was for the film, and how great Margot Kidder was. There was also a begrudging acknowledgment on the part of our venerable host that Black Christmas should be considered a proto-slasher. The biggest revelation of the night, however, was learning that Joe Bob had polio.

Margot Kidder in a choker has awoken something deep and dark within me…

As for Haunted MTL; Black Christmas is a classic in the sense that it is, well, older, now. It was one of the first Christmas horror films and carried a moderate level of adoration. It is most definitely a three-star film. The film is gloomy as Hell and utilizes shadow very well. It just feels gross and grimy in a way 1970s horror always had. It also has some pretty bad pacing issues.

The film is decent but nothing revolutionary. The fervor around it feels a bit unearned, honestly. The ending is novel enough and subverts narrative expectations, but it feels like more of a cop-out than a striking choice. Also, they killed off Margot Kidder’s character way too early.

Best Line: “Darling, you can’t rape a townie.” – Barb

Haunted MTL Drive-In Totals

We have our own Drive-In totals, but we should cover Joe Bob’s list.

Thanks, Shudder! As for some of our totals:

  • 4 documentaries about Black Christmas
  • 27 Viewings by Steve Martin (apparently)
  • 3 American Flags (Joe Bob said they were all over the movie?)
  • Gratuitous Yuki
  • Fellatio Tweet-Fu
  • Gratuitous Margot Kidder
  • “Pig Cunt” or “Pink Cunt”-Debating
  • Impalement-Threatening
  • John Saxon-ing
  • Boyfriend Slaying
  • Murder by Unicorn
  • Slasher-Pedigree Debate Fu
  • Bar Joke Fu
Watch the sight-lines there, J.B.!

I had the joy of watching the marathon with a close friend who visited for a week during the holidays. It is really fun to see how the normals handle Joe Bob… and I gotta say, Joe Bob is a figure who transcends. Black Christmas was a bit slow for my friend, but Jack Frost and Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 were truly amazing experiences.

What wasn’t so amazing was the cruel tease dropped upon us by Joe Bob at the end of this first film, but we’ll get into that for next time. Next time we’ll cover Jack Frost. Stick with Haunted MTL for ongoing coverage. See you then.

About the Author

David Davis is a writer, cartoonist, and educator in Southern California with an M.A. in literature and writing studies.

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