Black Christmas Blu-ray (Collector’s Edition)
Director: Bob Clark
Screenwriter: A. Roy Moore
Cast: Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder, John Saxon
Distributor: Scream Factory
Rated R | 98 Minutes
Release Date: December 13, 2016
“Oh, why don’t you go find a wall socket and stick your tongue in it, that’ll give you a charge!”
Considered to be one of the first “slasher” films, 1974’s Black Christmas served as an influence for John Carpenter’s Halloween and has since become a cult classic. Directed by Bob Clark (Porky’s, A Christmas Story), the movie was inspired by a series of murders that took place in Montreal, and the urban legend “The Babysitter and the Man Upstairs.”
At a Christmas party at the Pi Kappa Sigma house, Jess Bradford (Olivia Hussey) receives an obscene phone call from “The Moaner,” a disturbed individual who has been calling the house. Jess and her sorority sisters Barb (Margot Kidder), Phyllis (Andrea Martin), and Clare (Lynne Griffin) listen in on the call. The feisty Barb provokes the caller, who responds by telling the girls that he is going to kill them.
The next day, Clare’s father (James Edmond) arrives to bring her home for the holidays. Housemother Mrs. Mac (Marian Waldman) and the girls are taken off guard, as they were under the impression that Clare left the night before. Unbeknownst to them, the girl was murdered in the attic, suffocated with plastic wrapping. Meanwhile, Jess meets up with her boyfriend, Peter (Keir Dullea, 2001: A Space Odyssey), to tell him that she’s pregnant and wants an abortion. Peter, clearly upset by this decision, urges her to reconsider.
Elsewhere, Mr. Harrison, Barb, and Phyllis go to the police station to report Clare’s disappearance while Jess informs Clare’s boyfriend Chris (Art Hindle) about the situation. After discussing the case with Lt. Kenneth Fuller (John Saxon, A Nightmare on Elm Street), the group learns that a local girl is missing as well. The police attempt to trace The Moaner’s calls, but tracking the killer’s movements reveals all sorts of twists and turns in this holiday whodunit.
Black Christmas is a tense, well-crafted horror movie with an impressive cast and some solid scares. It’s interesting how Clark, screenwriter Roy Moore, and cinematographer Reginald H. Morris combined elements of exploitation B-movies (like The Last House on the Left and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre) with the imagery of psychological horror films (like Psycho and Peeping Tom) to solidify the slasher subgenre. Often we point to 1978’s Halloween as the film that laid out the slasher formula, but here’s Clark’s movie, four years earlier, using camera moves and other elements we associate with Carpenter’s masterpiece. If you’ve never seen Black Christmas, it’s absolutely worth a look, and Scream Factory’s new Blu-ray release offers up a high-definition presentation that can’t be matched.
The Collector’s Edition Blu-ray includes two transfers of the film: a new 2K scan of the original negative in its original aspect ratio (1.85:1), and a previous HD master in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, produced by Critical Mass in 2006. The transfer exhibits nice grain with some fine detail, especially in textures and clothing. Colors are bold, with nice black levels and acceptable brightness and contrast levels. In terms of audio, English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and DTS-HD Master Audio Mono tracks offer up different experiences, depending on if you’re utilizing a home theater system or prefer a more old school viewing experience.
When it comes to special features, this is another definitive release for Scream Factory. On the first disc, there are three audio commentaries: one with Bob Clark, one with John Saxon and Keir Dullea, and another with Billy (as portrayed by actor Nick Mancuso). There’s also an audio interview with Clark that acts as a fourth commentary. On the second disc, there are a bevy of new bonus materials, including two new interviews: Film and Furs: Remembering Black Christmas with Art Hindle and Victims and Virgins: Remembering Black Christmas with Lynne Griffin. A full list of special features, as well as trailers, clips, and cover art, can be found below.
Black Christmas (Collector’s Edition) is now available at Amazon.
— NEW 2016 2K scan of the negative (1.85:1)
— DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, DTS-HD Master Audio Mono
— Audio commentary with director Bob Clark
— Audio commentary with John Saxon and Keir Dullea
— Audio commentary with Nick Mancuso
— Audio interview with director Bob Clark
— 2006 Critical Mass HD Master (1.78:1)
— DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
— NEW Film and Furs with Art Hindle
— NEW Victims and Virgins with Lynne Griffin
— Black Christmas Legacy
— 40th anniversary panel at FanExpo 2014
— On Screen! Black Christmas featurette
— 12 Days Of Black Christmas featurette
— Black Christmas Revisited featurette
— Midnight Screening Q&A with Bob Clark, John Saxon and Carl Zittrer
— Two Scenes with a new vocal soundtrack
— Archival interviews
— Original theatrical trailers
— Original TV and radio spots
— Alternative title sequences
— Still gallery