Woman in Revolt
A Podcast About Women in Film & TV
December 23, 2022

E14 Holidaze: "Black Christmas" 1974 vs. 2019

Jo and Lindsay go deeper than "the 2019 movie is bad."

The OG “Black Christmas” is a 1974 Canadian horror film written by A. Roy Moore and directed by Bob Clark (Yes the same guy who made “A Christmas Story”). It’s about a sorority house right before the Christmas holidays when everyone is in good spirits, drinking and partying before they leave campus for break. Four sisters and their den mother, Mrs. Mac (Marian Waldman), are left in the house after a party when they start receiving creepy phone calls from someone they refer to as “the moaner.” He’s apparently been calling the house for a while and saying garbled, often sexual things to whoever answers. By the end of the film, this mysterious figure will have infiltrated the house and killed all of the women but one: Jess (​​Olivia Hussey), who spent much of the film defending her decision to abort an unwanted pregnancy that her boyfriend, Peter (Keir Dullea), wants to keep. There’s a breathtaking scene toward the end of the film where everyone else is dead and Jess, who has barely escaped the killer, flees to the basement. From outside, she hears Peter, calling to her sweetly, confused as to why she won’t answer him. When he breaks the window and enters the room, Jess hides, panicked and afraid, convinced he may be the killer. In the final act, we learn that Jess has bludgeoned Peter to death. As she lies sedated in her bed after the cops and paramedics have mostly packed up and left, we see the killer, still at large, lurking around the house and disappearing into the attic. It’s a film that’s about women being observed and harassed with no one to turn for help but themselves.

The 2019 remake is written by April Wolfe and Sophia Takal and directed by Takal. The premise is the same, but with some key differences:

  • The protagonist, Riley (Imogen Poots), was raped by a frat bro named Brian (Ryan McIntyre) and is dealing with trauma + rage over being dismissed/not believed by men
  • The women are being hunted by multiple men in hooded robes … there is a supernatural twist where the men hunting them are possessed by Calvin Hawthorne and commanded to do whatever it takes to control women Instead of phone calls to the sorority house, the women receive text messages from Calvin Hawthorne, the founder of the school and presumably some old racist fuckwit. The title card at the beginning of the film gives this quote by him: “Man possesses powers so formidable they can only be considered supernatural. With a proper education, men can wield these powers and go forth into the world.”

  • There are two final girls: Riley and Kris (Aleyse Shannon) who actually figure out what’s going on and get revenge

Other shit we mentioned: