Black Christmas 1974:
Random Sister: You know, that town girl was raped a couple of weeks ago.
Barb: Darling, you can’t rape a townie.
Here’s a little Canadian entry. It’s Christmas Eve and the girls at the sorority house are being stalked by a killer with a penchant for obscene phone calls. I’m going to make this one easy. I really don’t recommend watching the entire movie unless you are really on the edge of your seat about whether or not the main protagonist will have an abortion over the objections of her asshole boyfriend who plays atonal music down at the conservatory. Nope, there are only a couple of reasons to watch this movie. First, Marian Waldman does a nice job as the drunken house mother who needs to stay wasted to deal with her role as the chastity police for the sorority sisters. Anyone who has ever really needed a drink then found that forgotten bottle stashed away somewhere should really appreciate her character. But the real show is Margo Kidder playing the lead mean girl in the house. It’s a nice sativa film that provides more than a few laughs. Be warned. The humor is cutting and, at times, uncomfortable.
Barb is a complex character and I have to confess that I was rooting for her from the beginning. I almost had myself convinced she might make it, particularly because I had trouble discerning the actual protagonist. It’s like that around here—always playing the longshot. Why do the interesting ones always have to die? At least the viewer is treated to a complex female character in a traditional slasher movie. I have no doubt screenwriter Roy Moore must have known this person in real life. Barb resembles one of those traditional mean girls that would show up in later films. She almost gives the movie a bit of a Heathers vibe. She’s deeply damaged, but sleek and obscene. I suggest watching the film up until Barb passes-out. The rest is kind of downhill.
Margo Kidder plays this character brilliantly. Barb is intelligent and prone to making shocking statements (see above). It’s the kind of writing that one rarely sees in modern film. Her wealthy mother wants nothing to do with her, so Barb uses the sorority as her primary sphere of intimacy. The only problem is that intimacy is impossible for her. She connects to others through her capacity to shock. She is constantly lashing out at the universe—particularly at the good girls who do what they’re told. The entertainment value in the film comes from watching her perform—little moments that are alternatively amusing and dismaying for her audience. Once again, she’s too vivid not to be a real person. If you stick around for her character resolution, you will note it’s a brutal sequence (a crystal unicorn horn?) in an otherwise relatively tame movie. It’s almost as if the film needs to punish her in order to counterbalance the energy she brings to the screen. I wonder if the writer dated her at some point. There was quite a bit of rage there.
Barb… If you’re still out there, I hope you’re still giving them hell.
Rating: 3 Hits/Four Shots