The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, November 3-December 6

repertory-black-christmas

Black Christmas (1974)
Directed by Bob Clark
This horror classic is, along with Halloween four years later, considered the godfather of the late-70s/early-80s slasher boom, forging many of the subgenre’s tropes: a holiday setting, nubile teenagers, creepy point-of-view shots filled with heavy breathing. But not even John Carpenter picked up on the feminist angle of Clark’s film. As hedonistic as many of the women in Pi Kappa Sig may be, Clark has no interest in the kind of male-gaze leering later slasher films would unashamedly invite (and that he himself would encourage with his 1981 sex comedy Porky’s). If anything, Black Christmas is about that kind of objectification, with the killer menacing his potential victims with obscene phone calls filled with derogatory sexual come-ons. It’s not only the killer himself who’s sexist, however. Final girl Jess’s (Olivia Hussey) boyfriend Peter (Keir Dullea) exudes male privilege in his disregard for his girlfriend’s desire to have an abortion, unable to comprehend her lack of interest in settling down just yet. Fitting, then, that he’s made out to be the main murder suspect—at least until its final two minutes throw a wrench in that conclusion and suggest something even more insidious: the terror of misogyny continuing to live on. Kenji Fujishima (December 2, 3, midnight at the Nitehawk)

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