2 Dec 2018

CHRISTMAS HORROR - Black Christmas (1974)

Film genres have formulas and rules, but how well does Black Christmas (1974) films follow the Christmas Horror Film formula?

Black Christmas (1974) in a Christmas Horror film and early slasher film.

The following analysis may contain spoilers for


There will be no warning...

 "I'm going to kill you." ~ Billy.
"Well, super-tongue strikes again." ~ Barb.

... for the characters in the Christmas horror film.

1a.  Eerie - Carolers. Killer POV.
1b.  Creepy guy - Billy's calls.
1c.  Foreshadowing animal death - Local child, not an animal, but after the first sorority girl death.

Sex & Nudity.

"Did you know...  It's very little known fact, but... did you know that there is a certain species of turtle... that-- There is a certain species of turtle... that can screw for three days without stopping.  You don't believe me, do you?" ~ Barb.

Pretty much the usual nudity horror nudity rules apply, except in the case of the rare milder horror movies aimed more at children.

2a.  Nudity - A poster with a bare butt on it. The butt of a policeman.
2b.  Sex - No one had sex during the film.
i.  Death - The seemingly virginal character dies, a pregnant character lives.
ii.  Random Sex - Barb talks about it a lot.
iii. Relationship Sex - Jess was in a relationship and pregnant.
iv.  Rape - Suggestions Billy may have started as a rapist.


"Oh Miss Bradford, this is Sargeant Nash.  Are you the only one in the house?" ~ Sgt Nash.
"No, Phyl and Barb are upstairs asleep." ~ Jess.

A few of the following will appear:

3a.  Potential Killers or Victims
i. The Grinch -  Not really.
ii. The Christmas Obsessed -  Not really.
iii. The Religious Nut - No.
iv. An Inappropriate Santa Impersonator - Patrick who swares while dressed as Santa around kids.
v.  Evil Orphan - Possibly Billy.
vi.  Good Kids - Janice is killed.
vii.  Bad Kids - The children who throw a snowball at Mr Harrison. The carolers.
viii.  Partiers - The sorority girls.
ix.  The Bimbo - Barb, then again, from what we see she's all talk.
x. The Sloppy Drunk - Barb.
3b. Standard Horror Trope Victims
i. The Nerdy/Funny Guy – Patrick.  Possibly Chris.
ii.  Macho jerks - Peter.  Possibly sensitive, but neurotic and angry that Jess wants an abortion.  Chris (survives).
iii. The Strong Female Character - Barbara, maybe although there's the drinking and panic attacks. Jess Bradford, the final girl.
iv. The Protector - Lt Ken Fuller.  To a lesser degree Officer Jennings.
v. The Sensitive Guy - Patrick (never really in danger.)
xi.  Animals – Claude Cat goes missing.
3c.  Standard Christmas Film Filler Characters
i. Carollers - Heard during opening of the film.
ii. Silver-haired jovial old person - Mrs Mac
iii. Someone with a secret - Jesse is pregnant and is going to have an abortion.
iv. Stressed Young Female - Probably Barb.
v. The Single - Barb.
vi. Someone Career Obsessed - Pete.
vii. Grumpy Old (usually) Man - Mr Harrison, but with some reason (his daughter's missing and he's hit by a snowball.)
viii. Sassy Old (usually) Woman - Mrs Mac, to a degree.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
"Anything for you girls because it's Christmas?" ~ Mrs Mac.

4a.  Carols - During the opening. At the party. Actual child carolers are at the door during a murder.
4b.  Christmas Eve - Set over a few days, sometime before Christmas.
4c.  Christmas is the real monster - The woman leaving for Christmas break allows the victims to disappear without arousing suspicion. Barb is upset that her mother doesn't want to do anything for Christmas, but that's about it.
4d.  Twisted Christmas title - Black Christmas, a play on White Christmas.

People will die when they go…
      "Claude?  Claude?  Claude?  Where are you?  How did you get up on the attic, Claude?" ~ Mrs McHenry.

5a.  Down to the Basement - Jess is forced down into the basement and kills Peter.
5b.  Upstairs - Billy hides in the attic (and kills Mrs Mac when she comes looking). Most of the victims are killed on the second floor.
5c.  For a Shower - No one showers. 
5d.  Into old sheds or out buildings - Doesn't happen.
5e.  Running off to the “safety” of the forest - Doesn't happen.
5f.  Anywhere alone - Everyone goes everywhere alone.
5g.  Anywhere Remote, Isolated or Confined - Doesn't happen.
5h.  Any Old, Abandoned or Presumably Haunted Buildings - Doesn't happen.

Death will be a punishment for...
"Agnes, it's me, Billy!  Agnes, please don't tell what we did, Agnes!" ~ Billy.

...being on the naughty list.  Beyond the usual punishment for transgression, the killers in Halloween horrors will often have a more "naughty or nice" way of determining who will die.

6a.   Sex Clare, the first victim had a boyfriend and was accused of being a "professional virgin" (only pretends to be an innocent) by Barb.  Janice, the second victim was a high school girl (so presumably a virgin).
6b.  Nudity  -  No nudity.
6c.  Drinking - Mrs Mac.  Clare drank at the party but the other girls didn't consider her a drinker.
6d.  Drugs - No one took drugs.
6e.  Hitchhiking - No one hitchhiked.
6f.  Other Criminal Behaviour - None.
6g.  Annoying/Cowardly/Sleazy/Grumpy/Rude - Probably Peter who is killed and Chris who survives.
6h.  Being a Bystander - Officer Jennings.

Especially When They Are Most Needed, The Following Things Cannot Be Relied On…
 "Now just put the phone back on the hook, walk through the front door, and leave the house." ~ Sgt Nash.
"What's wrong?" ~ Jess.
"Please, Miss Bradford, please just do as I tell you." ~ Sgt Nash.

...Anything.  But especially:
7a.  Communications devices - The phone works fine. Unfortunately, it's used to threaten and harass.
7b.  Lighting - In some rooms.
7c.  Vehicular Transport - Not really.
7d.  Your Own Legs - No issues.
7e.  The Authorities – Lt Ken Fuller actually seems competent.  Sgt Nash is the center of police incompetence in this film (falling for a fellatio joke, constantly ignoring reports of crimes, stuffing up the warning call he was told not to.)
7f.  Weapons – The fire-poke seems to work fine as a weapon.  Unfortunately, it was used on the wrong person.
7g.  Escape Routes - Not covered.

The Killer has a Connection to…
"Where did you put Agnes, Billy?" ~ Billy.


8a. The Killer will either be: The killer has no connection to Christmas.
8b.  The Killer will have:
i.  Specific rules - None.
ii.  A Specific Look -  You only see the eyes.  And looks quite like Peter.
iii.  A Specific Weapon - Whatever's handy. No Christmas related kills.
iv.  To be killed the twice - Wasn't even killed once.
8c. Other
i. The Camera - Regularly.

The End.

(Phone rings)

9a.  Happy Ending - Not a happy ending, the final girl is probably killed.
9b.  Evil Lives - The bad guy lives.
9c.  Evil is Immortal - No sign of immortality.

RULE #10
Sequels and Remakes
"It's him again - the moaner." ~ Jess.

Christmas horror films are often cult successes (the premise alone will make give them major "so bad they're good" points) rather than box office hits.

10a. Sequels - Not a sequel and no sequels.
10b. Remakes - A remake
10c. Anthologies - Not an anthology.


    "He said the calls are coming from No. 6, Belmont Street." ~ Sgt Nash.
    "For Christ sake, Nash, you got it wrong.  That's where the calls are going into." ~ Lt Fuller.
    "That's where they're coming from too, sir." ~ Sgt Nash.
    • The following rules are followed:  1.
    • The following rules are partially followed:  3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.
    • The following rules are not followed: 2. 

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