Tag Archives: psychological thriller

Joe’s Random Movie Review: “Black Christmas” (1974)

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Christmas stereo-typically, is the most joyful time of the year, but with mundane, and ancient pagan origins, it’s actually the perfect time of the year for horror films, much on par with Halloween. Like “It’s a Wonderful Life”, or even Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”. Dark stories meant not only to frighten, but to scare people back on the right path of life. Acting more as a cautionary tale.

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Before filmmaker Bob Clark gave us his family film “A Christmas Story”, in 1974 he brought us one of the most important to the horror films of the entire genre. Important because many you could argue it was the Prototype slasher film. “Black Christmas.”

The film is marketed as a psychological thriller which follows a plot line that borders on being stereo typical. A group of girls in the sorority house during Christmas break, and a crazy maniac is in the house tries to kill them one by one.

On the outside the plot actually appears to be quite straightforward. But the complexity of this film is not in the storytelling. It’s complexity is found primarily in the film’s design. Black Christmas is one of those movies where one could actually do a full on ‘CSI type’ investigation. Like a whodunit, very much in the same aspect as John Carpenter’s “The Thing”.

The “if the killer did this and the victims over there, then this must’ve happened here”.

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Another interesting thing about Black Christmas is it’s one of the first main stream horror films to actually feature and antagonist whom you’ve never see, you only hear his phone calls and screams, and occasionally you see his POV. This is something that would actually be done later in other slasher films to help create suspense. A good example would be the introduction to the film “Halloween”.

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The cast of the film is also great, not just Keir Dullea’s dramatic performance as Peter, but also Olivia Hussey’s great job as Jess. Not exactly a conventional film for the stars of “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Romeo and Juliet”, respectively. Another famous face in the film is Margot Kidder, making a pre-Superman appearance, as well as Art Hindle of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” fame and John Saxon, “A Nightmare on Elm Street”.

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One quality about this movie that undoubtedly separates it from its other slasher films, besides the fact that this one was made way earlier in 1974, is that it doesn’t obey the rules usually put in the place in the Slasher film genre. Jamie Kennedy made them very famous in the film “Scream” example: virgins are the ones who usually survive, the ones who do drugs or drink a lot and usually die in the film, stuff like that. The film Black Christmas does not actually follow those conventional slasher film rules. As such it’s more logical to call it a Prototype slasher film then it would be to refer to an actual horror film.

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Granted, having a bad guy whom you never know the motivations of, or even the very look of the villain, this type of horror film may not pair well with today’s generation. The downfall of most horror movies these days is that people want it 100% closed ended resolution in the end product of the film. Nevertheless, Bob Clark’s “Black Christmas” is undoubtedly a great horror film for all generations.

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Joe’s Random Movie Trivia: “Rear Window” (1954) Who is the Woman in Black?

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!!SPOILERS!!

Throughout the film, we follow the hero, L.B. Jefferies as he tries to uncover the mystery of the disappearance of his neighbor’s wife, from the confines of his apartment and his wheelchair. As the audience, we explore this world Hitchcock has created and are making discoveries about it as the movie unfolds. As the details of the murder unfold, so does the truth of the woman’s murder.

In this way, Hitchcock creates one form of suspense. For a great portion of the film, Jefferies is the only one who believes the woman was murdered. His cop friend Doyle, doesn’t believe him. Even his girlfriend Lisa doesn’t at first. But what’s really interesting is the one clue that doesn’t prove that Mrs. Thorwald was murdered. It’s the one clue that tears a hole right through Jefferies’ theory..

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Earlier in the movie, while Jefferies starts to see that something strange is going on Something happens, that only we, the audience know. Our hero sees, Thorwald leave his apartment multiple times in the night, and the sudden disappearance of the invalid Mrs. Thorwald. We see these things too, which aid in our suspicions on Thorwald.

So what did we see, that he didn’t see?

Well the answer is at about 36 minutes and 13 seconds into the movie…

It’s late at night, and everyone’s presumably asleep, we see Thorwald and a woman dressed in black leave his apartment. The camera pans back into Jefferies’ apartment revealing he’s asleep and didn’t see this occur.

This is the second type of suspense Hitchcock creates. Because it’s the one clue that points out a flaw in Jefferies’ crime solving. The woman could very well have been Mrs. Thorwald, leaving the apartment. And if it wasn’t, who was she?! Possibly it was Thorwald’s mistress (which is heavily suggested later in the film).

Doyle confirms that eyewitnesses saw her leave the next day. 

As Jefferies says, “A second hand version of an unsupported story from the murderer himself.”

One of the greatest mysteries of Rear Window.

Who is the Woman in Black?!

Joe’s Random Movie Trivia: “Se7en” (seven)

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The actor who plays the film’s serial killer ‘john doe’ requested to remain uncredited until the final credits at the end of the movie. He is a very popular actor, and didn’t what the audience members looking for him to appear until Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt’s characters encounter him at the end of the film.

If you haven’t seen the movie, I’m not saying who it is.