Seeing how this is meant to be a review for the latest Scream Factory Blu-ray of Black Christmas, I should probably tackle the biggest “issue’ that is rearing its ugly head right now: the Mono soundtrack. It didn’t take long for people to notice an issue in the mono track, which I’ll admit is very noticeable. Anytime someone says something with an ‘S’ word, the audio hisses pretty badly. Scream Factory has responded to the complaints, citing the issue was in the optical track they received. Nevertheless, others have pointed out that issue didn’t exist in past releases that used the mono track.
Okay, so it definitely is a problem for people that want to experience the movie in original Mono. Scream Factory, however, has added a DTS Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0 track. Unfortunately, many people think they are terrible. You see, the new 5.1/2.0 tracks have added in “modern” sounds like stabbings, door opening sounds and door banging. Terrible, terrible stuff… I guess. You see, when I started up the movie, I listened to the Mono track and thanks to the people that complained, I couldn’t help but not hear the hissing sounds. To fix it, I switched over to the 5.1 track and lo and behold, the track did not bother me in the least bit. In fact, I loved it. I did go back and compare the two tracks to see the differences and yes, there has been changes done to the sound effects, but nothing that ruins my enjoyment of this classic holiday slasher.
Having said all that, I’m going to stop right there for now and switch this review over to the movie and I’ll get back to the Blu-ray once I’m done that.
DISCS: 2 RUN-TIME: 98 min ASPECT RATIO: 1.85:1, 1.78:1 RESOLUTION: 1080p AUDIO: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, 2.0, Mono LANGUAGE: English SUBTITLES: English REGION: A/1 RATING: R PRODUCTION DATE: 1974 RELEASE DATE: Dec 13, 2016
The college town of Bedford is receiving an unwelcome guest this Christmas. As the residents of sorority house Pi Kappa Sigma prepare for the festive season, a stranger begins to stalk the house.
A series of obscene phone calls start to plague the residents of the sorority and it becomes clear that a psychopath is homing in on the sisters with dubious intentions. And though the police try to trace the calls, they discover that nothing is as it seems during this Black Christmas.
Raise your hand if you haven’t seen Bob Clark’s Canadian cult classic Black Christmas. If you happened to raise your hand; shame! Shame! Shame! Black Christmas, released in 1974, is the precursor to that other cult classic slasher Halloween. Sure, Mario Bava was already doing some slasher/Giallo stuff over in Italy, but so far in North America, we didn’t have much POV slasher mayhem going around (do we count Psycho?). It took Bob Clark to come along and direct a slasher masterpiece taking place around some people’s most favourite time of the year to get things moving.
It’s Christmas time at a sorority house and the lucky ones have gone home for the holidays. There are only a few that have stayed around and unlucky for them, there is a killer hiding in their attic, who loves to call them up and make obscene phone calls. As the girls get knocked off one by one, the only victim left is Jess (Olivia Hussey,) who is hoping the police, led by John Saxon, will figure out exactly who is making these phone calls (they still don’t know anyone is dead). As the night goes on and the calls keep coming, Jess fears she may not see another Christmas again.
If you’re a fan of open ended movies, you’ll fall in love with this one.
Black Christmas has all the right ingredients for a classic slasher flick, even if Director Bob Clark saw this movie as more of a psychological thriller instead. It’s got the mysterious killer stalking the hallways and attic. It’s got some pretty cool kills and plenty of creepy moments to give you goosebumps (that eye in the door jamb scene is truly hair-raising). The subtle music by Carl Zittrer keeps things low key and tense, never making the soundtrack go overly bombastic, which allows the film’s tension to breathe and rely on subtle creaks and whispers in the shadows to keep the dread running high.
Olivia Hussey also plays the last woman standing with great gusto. Her screams fill the speakers and she really sells the fear at the end. We also get to enjoy some light brevity at the police station with John Saxon’s character lamenting the choices in police officers working there. And if the phone tracking scenes with their outdated technology don’t have you on the edge of your seat, you better check your pulse.
Is there anything to not like in Black Christmas? Personally, I find the film to be near perfect. As previously mentioned, people may not like the ending, but I found it absolutely brilliant.
Do I need to mention the audio issues again? Scream Factory is taking a beating with this one, with people demanding a recall and replacement program. I just going to shake my head and enjoy my copy. I’m not going to judge the people that want perfection, but to spend money on a replacement program is lunacy.
I want you to step back and look at exactly what Scream Factory has done for this Blu-ray release. They have provided not one, but two transfers. The first is the absolutely stunning new 2K transfer that is mind blowing in how cleaned up the film looks. There are obviously still issues here and there, but when comparing it to all other past releases, especially the included Critical Mass transfer, this one stands above the rest.
I haven’t even got to the special features, with a second disc jammed full of them. Yes, there are only two new interviews included, but they are enjoyable. The real highlight here, though, is the inclusion of all past special features. I’m talking multiple commentaries, featurettes, interviews and trailers. This is one release where you can sit back and bask in the glory of how Black Christmas came to be and how its legacy lives on.
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 Actors John Saxon And Keir Dullea
Audio Commentary With Billy (Actor Nick Mancuso)
Audio Interview With Director Bob Clark
2006 Critical Mass HD Master (1.78:1) – DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
NEWFilm And Furs – Remembering Black Christmas With Art Hindle
NEWVictims And Virgins – Remembering Black Christmas With Lynne Griffin
Black Christmas Legacy
40th Anniversary Panel At FanExpo 2014 Featuring John Saxon, Art Hindle, Lynne Griffin & Nick Mancuso
On Screen!: Black Christmas Featurette
12 Days Of Black Christmas Featurette
Black Christmas Revisited Featurette
Archival Interviews With Olivia Hussey, Art Hindle, Margot Kidder, Bob Clark, & John Saxon
Midnight Screening Q&A With Bob Clark, John Saxon And Carl Zittrer
Two Scenes With A New Vocal Soundtrack
Original Theatrical Trailers (English And French)
Original TV And Radio Spots
Alternative Title Sequences
Black Christmas, the cult classic slasher that really did inspire Halloween. The ending, if you enjoyed it, will stick with you for a very long time and will still have you asking the question of who exactly was Billy. Scream Factory spent a lot of time and money on getting this release out to the masses. They have gone above and beyond in my personal opinion and in the end, I say forgive the Mono track issue and buy this damn Blu-ray.
Caps-a-holic comparison test! Which one looks better? First or second?