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Face-Off: Black Christmas (1974) Vs. Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

05.14.2012by: Mike Catalano
100%
In regards to our last Face-Off pitting Sarah Michelle Gellar's "Buffy" against Kristy Swanson's "Buffy", we all seemed to agree that although Ms. Swanson was certainly bodacious, Sarah Michelle deserved to be the rightful winner. It was nice seeing everyone's heartfelt opinions, so keep 'em coming!

For today's Face-Off, we draw inspiration from the newly announced Silent Night, Deadly Night remake, which myself and Mr. Ammon are actually pretty keen on. I love horror films centered around the holidays and with that said, I'm filled with cheer to bring you Black Christmas (1974) Vs. Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984).

Body Count
Whether it's by plastic bag, a hanging hook, or a crystal unicorn, the death is happily delivered in Black Christmas to the tune of seven total bodies. This ain't too bad for a mid-70's horror flick that essentially kicked off the slasher craze we all love so much. The sheer brutality of our killer, Billy's attacks leave such a lasting impression of dread, yet surprisingly show very little blood. Impressive.
Let's just say that when our psycho Santa, Billy (hey, same name as the other killer!) goes crazy, he goes Dead crazy! From his trusty ol' axe to choking Christmas lights, to friggin' sharp antlers, the deaths are dealt out in severely bloody fashion. Thirteen cold corpses hit the ground!
Hottie Factor
Olivia Hussey makes for an ideal "final girl" scream queen with her lovely features and sweet, vulnerable performance. And Margot Kidder offers a nice dose of verbal slutiness to the mix. However, for a flick that takes place mostly in a sorority house, we get a shocking complete lack of sex and/or nudity. Even the often-reviled remake got this part right. Plus, this was directed by the guy who gave us the glorious shower scene in Porky's! I guess that can act as a sort-of apology.
Now, SNDN definitely knew what was on every horndog's Christmas list and presented plenty of smutty sex and boobage. Thanks to Santa, we get the ho-ho-ho trifecta of 1. Tara Buckman's ample bosom 2. Toni Nero's love-making flesh and 3. Scream Queen Linnea Quigley's now legendary rack on the pool table, the floor, and mounted on the wall. A happy yule log will be had by all.
Killer
"Billy" is a prime example of the less-is-more approach. The only thing worse than the sadistic killing of innocent sorority girls is not having the slightest idea of what the evil looks like beyond a pair of hands and one menacing eyeball. And, of course, there's his excruciatingly menacing voice, which literally sends chills down my spine. The dialogue he has every time one of the sorority girls picks up the phone grows increasingly sick and confusingly f*cked up with each ring.
This "Billy" has his own case of a deranged psyche with Christmas playing a sadly terrible part in it. I was very surprised how well-developed this character is for a low budget slasher flick and Robert Brian Wilson does an incredible job of conveying how he snaps. As demonstrated by Black Christmas, less may be more, but if you do have to show your killer fully (which is what SNDN does), you'd best make sure he's got one creepy disposition.
Holiday Cheer
I watch this film every holiday season to begin getting in the spirit of things (ugh, yes, I even watch the remake for the same reason). There's just something so warm (yet foreboding) in the opening choir rendition of "Silent Night" that totally sets the tone for the entire movie. Add to that the festively decorated sorority house, the snow-covered landscapes, and the Christmas carolers and you get this pleasing Christmas tone that is such a cool direct contrast to the harsh horror aspect.
The instant SNDN brought forth that warm holiday feeling for me was the first time we see "Billy" as a teenager, working at the toy store. It's Christmas time and it's the 80's, so there are all these great, cheesy Christmas decorations everywhere and the best part is that I actually remember having all of those decorations growing up. That, plus all the old Star Wars toy boxes on the shelves so authentically captures that period in time, it's a joy to behold. However, the rest shows a mother getting raped by a guy dressed as Santa and kids celebrating Christmas with nuns which kind of puts a damper on that holiday spirit.
Finale Gift
What a helluva send-off! In terms of thrills, chills, and all-out greatness, this little, low-budget slasher-that-could leaves its faithful viewers on a gloriously dreadful note. After our "final girl" confronts and is chased by "Billy", she ends up locked in the sorority house's basement where she eventually battles and kills who she believes to be the killer. Cut to an hour or so later and the cops have arrived, the bodies have been discovered, and our "final girl" is medicated and tucked safely into bed... then everyone leaves... but they didn't check the attic! The film's final 30 seconds of magic starts with the attic door opening as the camera slowly pulls away from the attic's lone window with Billy's first victim staring blanklyl out of it. Incredible.
The finale for SNDN really does a tight job of pushing the tension as the cops are stationed at the orphanage where "Billy" grew up, waiting to see when/if he arrives. Having the lives of innocent children and nuns at stake really adds a chilling layer to the flick that wasn't so evident before. Throw in a neat bait-and-switch involving someone else dressed like Santa and a humorously devious final word from our killer's brother, and you've got a pretty satisfying holiday slasher conclusion.
Black Christmas ('74)
Well, there was room for only one "Billy" to be declared the winner of this Face-Off, and Black Christmas is the one left standing underneath the mistletoe. This makes pretty good sense to me, but what the hell do I know? Why don't you tell my below in our spitting bullets section? Oh, and even though it's a little early, let me be the first to wish you a very Merry Christmas! And as always, email any cool, future horror-themed Face-Off ideas to me at mikecatalano@joblo.com.

Tags: Face-Off

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+1
1:06PM on 05/14/2012
I've never seen SNDN so can't comment but by all accounts of the comments below perhaps it would be more appropriate to compare SNDN with the BC remake? I do love BC original however the remake - as much as it's hated by most - is a real guilty pleasure of mine, I watch it every year on Xmas eve. Drunk of course.
I've never seen SNDN so can't comment but by all accounts of the comments below perhaps it would be more appropriate to compare SNDN with the BC remake? I do love BC original however the remake - as much as it's hated by most - is a real guilty pleasure of mine, I watch it every year on Xmas eve. Drunk of course.
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+2
12:19PM on 05/14/2012
'' SILENT NIGHT , DEADLY NIGHT '' is all kinds of fun , but '' BLACK CHRISTMAS '' did , does , and always will , creep me the fuck out . The Real BILLY is stalking Sorority Girls .
'' SILENT NIGHT , DEADLY NIGHT '' is all kinds of fun , but '' BLACK CHRISTMAS '' did , does , and always will , creep me the fuck out . The Real BILLY is stalking Sorority Girls .
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11:39AM on 05/14/2012
One's fun crass, the other spooky class! Black Christmas all the way.
One's fun crass, the other spooky class! Black Christmas all the way.
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11:11AM on 05/14/2012
I agree too. Black Christmas is the winner. I still got chills watching it every now and then. And another plus for Black Christmas is the lovely Olivia Hussey.
I agree too. Black Christmas is the winner. I still got chills watching it every now and then. And another plus for Black Christmas is the lovely Olivia Hussey.
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10:51AM on 05/14/2012
I have to 100% concur with Eric. SNDN is a cheesy fun film with a pretty interesting lead character and nice deaths...but Black Christmas is a masterpiece in my useless opinion :)
I have to 100% concur with Eric. SNDN is a cheesy fun film with a pretty interesting lead character and nice deaths...but Black Christmas is a masterpiece in my useless opinion :)
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+3
10:37AM on 05/14/2012
Black Christmas is a legitimate classic, while SNDN is a cheesy goof, at best. So no competition, really...
Black Christmas is a legitimate classic, while SNDN is a cheesy goof, at best. So no competition, really...
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10:17AM on 05/14/2012
I agree, Black Christmas.
I agree, Black Christmas.
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