It's the It's a Wonderful Life of Christmas horror movies, 'cause nothing says the holidays like some basket case slaughtering sorority chicks. The calls might even be coming from inside the house.

hey cool
Slasher movie made like a real movie
but YUCK
Damn well better kill that piano boyfriend

Ever just loathe someone instantly? That intense artist hair and turtleneck sweater guy was like a hundred red flags to a bull in my household. Wasn't that just about the most horrid adult you've ever seen? I know I complain about obnoxious young movie jackasses all the time but at least they're cartoon caricatures and wear it on their sleeves. I've actually met guys like this Peter in the nonfiction world. You know the type, trying to seem all cool and progressive but inside they're ravening assholes. Probably the kind of uptight prick who wouldn't let his kid play with toy army men. You saw what happened - mister sensitive musician got all overbearing when that chick finally had the sense to dump his pretentious ass and abort his damn baby.

And the other girls were dating what, giant baby Gene Shalit and a guy who wears a full length ladies' fur coat all the time? If I were Detective Cameron from Night of the Creeps I'd go so far as to say "your dates are here - they're the guys from Black Christmas". What the hell women of the 70s? Only one who was dud-boyfriend free was my favourite character, drunken cynical foul-mouthed Barb.

My point is this is a terrifying movie; the whole time I was trembling in dread that it might end with piano boy still breathing. That's the only way a movie can scare me, 'cause if he doesn't die it'll nullify an hour and a half of my life. This is not a spoiler, it's a helper: HE'S DEAD. The day that guy survives a slasher movie is the day I finally go shopping at the industrial gas store for a cylinder of carbon monoxide and a tight fitting mask. Anyway I think we're supposed to not like him so good job I guess movie. And mistakenly killed by his own girlfriend for bonus points.

But enough about that bastard. Hey, welcome, we're talking about Black Christmas. Pretty good old slasher movie right?. In keeping with the title it's got this broken yuletide vibe that makes Christmas seem thoroughly depressing. Bit light on the kills but it sort of makes up for that by being a real movie with characters and plots and effective cinematography and all that sort of thing regular movie buffs love. Like dig those beautifully mournful zoom out shots of the dead girl in the attic looking out the window. It feels strange to watch a slasher movie and notice artsy stuff like that. Even the score was classy and understated. These early slashers didn't know they were schlock yet so they took it seriously and really tried.

In fact damn, you know what? I think this might be the first ever true slasher movie. Really? Can that be right? I can't think of anything before this. Some people mention films like Psycho but while that may have been part of the primordial ooze it's not a slasher in my book. This I believe is the first to deliver that particular slasher movie feel of a lunatic knocking off young people one by one, complete with final girl. It even happens at a sorority house.

But it's not the 80s yet; it's not a genre yet. These sorority chicks are regular real college girls who don't even have pillowfights in their underwear. As the first of its kind it's just a bit different, like an early episode of The Simpsons where they look kind of weird and don't talk the same. There's still a fair amount of vestigial psychological thriller here. For instance we get a heavy dose of police business in the movie. John Saxon is always cool and the detective trying to catch the killer drama actually works here, but I'm glad it would largely be phased out in the great host of slashers to follow. In fact I think we witness the very moment it happens at the end of this movie when all the cops inexplicably just up and split, leaving that comatose chick alone in a murder house full of dead bodies.

The most unusual aspect of the film is we never see the killer, nor are his motives ever explained. I dig that ambiguity over the standard childhood trauma backstory applied to serial slashers (as my eyes shoot daggers at the remake). And though lacking a catchy mask and screen time, this unknown person makes up for it with serious quality basket-case mental illness. He's talking crazy in at least three different voices and man I don't even know if he really is Billy.

So there you go - I'm saying this movie invented slashers. Without it there's no Michael or Jason. There's not even Angela, Evelyn, Mitch, Sheriff Fraser, Plasterhead or Madman Marz. I'll still take Halloween as my favourite Triassic era slasher because Halloween > Christmas, and I dearly love my great assembly line slashers from the 80s with their franchise killers and double digit murders, but strictly speaking, as a pro movie, well I wouldn't argue too loudly with anyone putting this at the top of their list.

So let's raise a toast to Black Christmas. And Billy, or whatever he was.

Line: "It's me Billy".