Christmas: Black Christmas (1974)

Next up in the Christmas movie marathon is Black Christmas.  Its been kind of weird that my line-up has a lot of atypical Christmas movies.  Krampus wasn’t all happy happy joy joy and then now we have this one.  I had one more horror that fell through because I had thought my husband had it or Netflix did but it turns out my memory was playing tricks on me so I have a movie slot to fill in now.  Before we get ahead of ourselves, lets check this out~!

Black Christmas (1974)

Black Christmas

Director: Bob Clark

Cast: Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullia, Margot Kidder, John Saxon, Andrea Martin, Michael Rapport

A sorority house is terrorized by a stranger who makes frightening phone calls and then murders the sorority sisters during Christmas break.-IMDB

 Most of you know that I’m pretty cool with most horror premises and my expectations never are that high.  Maybe they are a little higher this year because its been a fantastic year of horror with some great additions, especially from all those wonderful discoveries.  Is this a holiday film? Well, its set on Christmas and its a slasher flick.  There’s an appearance from a really crappy fake Santa, sorority girls drink and one particularly gets drunk and whoever did this film is all about sex (and one specific thing related to it…).  Black Christmas is a little weird and a tad stupid.  The characters themselves are a little meh with a bit of idiocy  in their decision-making skills. But, there is one thing they did get really well and that is making us wonder who the killer is up to the very end.

Black Christmas

When watching Black Christmas, you have to keep in mind that its made in 1974 and (probably) a low-budget Canadian production that (I think) aired on TV and maybe even under another name.  I believe I read that somewhere. Effectiveness-wise, its doesn’t really do much.  You can pretty expect the normal tropes and predict who dies next. Are there a few jump scares? Sure.  Here and there, the suspense does build.  But man, that beginning sequence was so slow. I guess its because I didn’t really care much for the characters.  The cops were pretty funny though and that perpetually perfect drunk girl also.  The main girl was played by a Olivia Hussey, who looked super familiar, like I’ve seen her in something else but I can’t remember (and her filmography also shows that my memory played yet another trick on me). She is the shining star here and well, the house mother who always has a bottle of Straight Sherry hanging out nearby that she whips out. I guess, the other light on this little movie would be John Saxon who plays as a cop here (in a higher ranking) and he was in Nightmare on Elm Street (which I saw recently).

Black Christmas

Let’s get into the gritty part. What is key to a horror. Its about the villain and the kills. Man, I never thought I’d say that.  Like I said before, how they treated this slasher villain is pretty good.  It keeps us guessing. Of course there are some improbably bits like how the heck he did the first kill and went up this dinky ladder to the attic while carrying the girl.  I’m still thinking of the mechanics of how that works. Its okay, lets get past that part.  Stupid girls did make this killer’s life a lot easier ;).  But then, those phone calls were pretty creepy and weird all at the same time. But it does say something when we keep getting sent back to that first kill, maybe its a sign that the remaining kills aren’t quite as scary? I don’t know what I’m talking about anymore.

Overall, Black Christmas is a little weird 1970s horror movie.  Its pretty average.  The beginning is a little slow for my taste and the characters are pretty bad at decision-making but they do get a few things right, particularly a few funny parts and the nature of the killer himself.  There are some effectively scary kills but the big picture of this is that it uses very typical horror tropes and that makes it rather predictable.

Have you seen Black Christmas? What do you think about it?

Halloween Marathon: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Welcome to the Halloween Marathon! We’re officially kicking off with our highlight series: A Nightmare on Elm Street!

I’m working hard on catching up on all the horror series that I’ve missed year after year. You can see my past two years recap over in the menu under Halloween Marathon.  There’s all the reviews from the Halloween and Friday the 13th series (which you can find on the Halloween Marathon page HERE).  Now, we’re moving onto the next iconic series.  I’m super stoked for this one because this year, it gives it even more reason to celebrate this series even though I had planned it a year ago.

Let’s begin!

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

a nightmare on elm street

Director & Writer: Wes Craven

Cast: Heather Langenkamp, John Saxon, Robert Englund, Ronee Blakley, Johnny Depp, Jsu Garcia

Several people are hunted by a cruel serial killer who kills his victims in their dreams. When the survivors are trying to find the reason for being chosen, the murderer won’t lose any chance to kill them as soon as they fall asleep. – IMDB

Last year while I was doing the Halloween Marathon featuring the Friday the 13ths was the first time I saw Freddy Kreuger in Freddy vs Jason.  Freddy Krueger is a downright creepy looking dude.  I don’t know much about A Nightmare on Elm Street except for the fragmented bits here and there and some iconic scenes I’ve seen here and there.  I’ve postponed this series for a few years because I never found the movies on a reasonable price but now, we’re all assembled and to me, the best part about A Nightmare on Elm Street is the premise and the character Freddy Kreuger.  Someone who can kill you while you are sleeping in your nightmares is crazy because its something that’s basically out of your control. What is the easiest way to tap into your inner/psychological fears? Its targeting whatever is out of our control.  After all, that is the basis of fear factories, right?

A Nightmare on Elm Street

 With that said, A Nightmare on Elm Street is a different sort of horror.  Its not even really slasher and as much as there is blood and its campy and mega dated, it still keeps a fun factor but also gives a rather creepy vibe.  I mean, there’s a few scenes that while the effects aren’t great because its been like 30 years (almost), and I’m rather forgiving on that, it still got under my skin a little.  I have to admit that while this first one didn’t show Freddy much because we’re just learning about who this man is before he became the monster killer on Elm Street, he had some goofy moments like that long arm scene. But then, we have this scene below…that picture kind of gives me the creeps…

a nightmare on elm street

Most of the cast here is new to me.  I did a quite rundown of them and maybe they did some roles here and there.  Of course, we have the notable Johnny Depp who makes an appearance here.  Honestly, the cast here is rather decent.  The script itself is a little cheesy at times but the cast is convincing enough. However, what the script does have are some remarkably creative death scenes.  Johnny Depp’s character’s death scene is easily one of the best ones.  It just kind of emphasizes how Freddy Kreuger can kill in any way as long as you fall asleep.

A Nightmare on Elm Street

As a first entry into a long-running franchise, A Nightmare on Elm Street is a strong one. While I still think, Halloween and Michael Myers offered a little more creeps, Freddy Kreuger does a good job as well.  Its all in the premise of his character and how he kills and just that disgusting look that we only ever get a glimpse of. Wes Craven is a master in horror in building atmosphere and building a legit character that is threatening.  Sleep is something that is obligatory in our lives, dreaming is a subconscious state of mind and he takes control of something we can’t control.  Just think about that. Smart move, Mr. Craven. I should’ve appreciated your work a lot earlier.

Overall, A Nightmare on Elm Street is a great first entry bring forth a memorable and effectively creepy character Freddy Kreuger.  It has a great premise and builds decent atmosphere.  It still has the campy feeling, mostly because of the supposed low budget and the dated effects from 30 years ago. However, it still made me jump a few times and the deaths were done in a rather creative way.  Definitely worth a watch!

What do you think of A Nightmare on Elm Street? How about the series in general? Which is your favorite?

**Remember to drop by tomorrow to see the review for Nightmare on Elm Street 2!!**