Slasher Hunt 2016: Black Christmas (1974) Blu-ray Review- Scream Factory *Updated*

By | December 23, 2016 Leave a Comment




Click pic to purchase
Released by: Scream Factory

Release Date: December 20th, 1974 (Theatrical)
                        December 13th, 2016 (Blu-ray)

Region Code: REGION A (locked)

Run Time: 1h 38m

Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 
            English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 
            English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono (Original)
            English: Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 kbps)

Video: 1080p (1.85:1 Aspect Ratio) (Disc One: 2K Transfer)
            1080p (1.78:1 Aspect Ratio) (Disc Two: Critical Mass Transfer)


Oh, why don't you go find a wall socket and stick your tongue in it, that'll give you a charge. -Barb

THE FEATURES ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Disc One: 2K Remastered Scan

Commentary with director Bob Clark

This is a really great commentary. Clark is never at a loss for a story and we get some good ones. He covers everything from the house to the different techniques used throughout the film. This is a must listen for fans of the film.

Commentary with actors John Saxon and Keir Dullea

The two actors here were recorded separately and spliced together to make for a decent commentary track. If you have watched the featurettes found on the second disc of this release then you have heard most of what this commentary has to offer. It isn’t bad, just bland.

Commentary with “Billy”

Nick Mancuso records this track as if he were Billy 40 years later. I listened to ten minutes of this track and turned it off. Gimmick tracks can work, listen to the commentary track with Ben Stiller, Jack Black, and Robert Downey Jr. to hear how a track like this can work. Mancuso is a talented actor, but I sure even he thought this was a dumb idea. This is a waste of time.

Audio Interview with Bob Clark

This is just as it sounds. This is an audio interview with Bob Clark that plays over the first 30 minutes of the film. Some say that it acts as “a fourth commentary track” and it isn’t. It is a good listen though.


Disc Two: Critical Mass “Restored” Version

Film and Furs: Remembering Black Christmas with Art Hindle (26m 11s, HD)

Newly produced featurette made by Shout! Factory and Red Shirt Pictures. Art Hindle shares some really nice and interesting stories covering the time he was making Black Christmas as well as some of the other films that he made with Bob Clark.

Victims and Virgins: Remembering Black Christmas with Lynne Griffin (26m 35s, HD)

This is the second and last featurette that was made for this release by Shout! Factory and Red Shirt Pictures. Griffin talks about working with Bob Clark and how much fun she (and the others) had a set. She also talks about her time on the convention circuit. She will bring a plastic bag to each convention and if someone is talking for too long on a panel she is on, she will put the bag on her head to signify to that person that they need to let others have a chance to speak as well.

Black Christmas Legacy (40m 22s, HD)

Produced for the “Seasons Grievings” blu-ray that was released, only in Canada, in 2015 by Anchor Bay. This is a look back at the film through interviews with some of the cast and crew, but also with some of the film’s biggest fans. I found this to be one of the better features on this set. The only thing that I did not like about this was that they have a “Remembering Bob Clark” chapter and it is incredibly short. It should have been longer. Other than that, this featurette is nice.


40th Anniversay Panel at FanExpo 2014 (18m 2s, HD)

John Saxon, Lynne Griffin, and Nick Mancuso are on hand to talk about the film and its lasting effect. Mancuso, at one point, asks the crowd why they like the film this far out from its release. The response was one any fan would give: Because its good. There is not much here, outside of that, which we do not already know from the other featurettes. Also, John Saxon is very hard to hear even when they do put a microphone in front of him. This is not a jab at Saxon, just a warning that you might have to turn up the volume to hear him.

On Screen!: Black Christmas (48m 41s, SD, 1.85:1 4x3)

This is arguably the best feature on the disc. On Screen! was a tv show that ran in Canada from 2005 to 2008 and covered a wide variety of Canadian made films. Their first show was this episode that focused on Black Christmas. We learn a lot about the film. The original script was about babysitters. Clark took the script by Roy Moore and added a lot of the humor.

I really liked this and it reminded me a lot of the Fox Movie Channel docs that have shown up on the different Fox dvds and blu-rays.


12 Days of Black Christmas (19m 48s, SD)

This is where we move from the Anchor Bay special features to the Critical Mass special features. This is a featurette, hosted by John Saxon, that looks at the making of the film. We get interviews from the main stay of actors and we get much of the same stories heard elsewhere on the disc. We do get interviews with Olivia Hussey, Doug McGarth, and Margot Kidder.

Black Christmas Revisited (36m 25s, SD)

Another Critical Mass featurette, this one is one part location revisiting and one part making of. The making of stuff is standard stuff, but the location revisiting was interesting even for the simple fact that this is what Scream Factory and Sean Clark would start doing five or six years later on a regular basis.

Archival Interviews (1h 41m, SD)

Olivia Hussey, Art Hindle, Margot Kidder, Bob Clark, and John Saxon. Each of the interview are separate from on another. These are raw interviews in that we hear the questions being asked. These interviews would then be edited into the featurettes that we have on this set. Very rarely do we get raw interview footage like this for a dvd or blu-ray release. It is long and hard to get through, but I think that te die hard fans will eat this up.

Midnight Screening Q&A (20m 21s, SD)

John Saxon, Bob Clark, and Carl Zittrer are on hand for this screening that happened at “The Nuart” 
theater in Santa Monica in 2004. Bad audio makes for a tough watch.


Two Scenes with a New Soundtrack (3m 4s, HD. 1.85:1 4x3)

Billy’s Entrance and Last Scene. The audio on Billy is supposed to be the original audio, but it still sounded muffled like it does in the film.

Theatrical Trailers (English and French) (8m 16s, SD)

One English trailer, one French trailer. Both the same trailer.

Original TV and Radio Spots (3m 9s, SD)

3 TV Spots with the second one being a shortened version of the theatrical trailer.

2 Radio spots

Alternate Title Sequences (2m 47s,  SD)

2 different title sequences: one for “Silent Night, Evil Night” and the other for “Black Christmas Silent Night Evil Night” and yes that second one is just a run on title.

Photo Gallery (52 Images)


THE PACKAGING ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Scream Factory has given us the standard package here. We get a slip sleeve that features newly commissioned artwork that is really nice. The artwork is a montage of events from the film and captures the film really well.


The reverse cover is the film’s now infamous theatrical poster with the girl sitting in a rocking chair with a bag over her head. The tag line reading: If this film doesn’t make your skin crawl its on too tight. Still one of the best tag lines for any film.


The two set is housed inside of a non-eco blu-ray case.



Both disc are REGION A (locked)


THE PICTURE ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is one of the trickiest things to cover with this release. When the film was released on blu-ray back in 2008 (Critical Mass), the reviews were overwhelmingly negative. The transfer was taken from a worn print that showed its true colors when put under the microscope. From 2008 until 2016 this is what we had. Sure, we could have imported releases from a bunch of different countries, but the picture quality was never that great.

Now comes the 2K remastered edition from Scream Factory. This was promised to be the closest the film has ever looked to being how it looked when it hit theaters in 1974. From the opening title sequence (which is just a look at the house while the opening credits play over it) you can tell that this is going to be a very different transfer. The first thing are the blacks. In the Critical Mass version, there is a lot of black crush. The encode can not handle the deep level of blacks. The Scream Factory transfer handles these with ease, resulting in some of the deepest and darkest blacks I have ever seen. 
Trust me, when you see the black level in this transfer you will be amazed as well.

Next are the colors. The Critical Mass blu-ray has a blue tint to it. Not like how Rabid Grannies was, but there is a slight blue tint that you can see when looking at anything that has light shown on it. Looking at the Scream Factory transfer, the colors look way more natural.

With the 2K transfer, all of the scratches and debris has been removed and the grain seems to be leveled.

To me, the Scream Factory 2K transfer beats the Critical Mass transfer all the way, but there are fans who think otherwise. That is why Scream Factory has both transfers included in this set. You can choose which transfer you like and never touch the other one again.


THE SOUND ⭐⭐⭐1/2

Here is the other controversial topic of this release. Fans were very happy when it was announced that this release would include the original mono soundtrack that the film was produced in. The Critical Mass blu-ray had the mono soundtrack, but that version has been out of print for a while. The problem lies in that there is a consistent sibilance and hiss throughout the whole track. Any time someone says anything that has an “S” sound it becomes distorted, like they have a really bad lisp. 
This is really annoying and makes the track very hard to listen too.

The 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD tracks should be the saving grace, but these tracks have added sound effects that are not present in the original mono track. This was the first time I watched the film so I didn’t know about these problems until I started to poke around with the various tracks.

Scream Factory has issued a statement that they are going to take the original mono that was on the Critical Mass blu-ray and apply it to the first disc and a replacement program has been put into effect. You have to email them at info@shoutfactory.com with your mailing address and proof of purchase and they will send out a replacement copy as soon as they are made available.

Once the replacement disc has been received by me I will update my score for the sound.

*UPDATE* I got into contact with Shout! Factory and they sent me a replacement disc. I got it fast too. I popped it in and it seems like they have fixed the problem. There is still that hard 'S' sound, but it isn't as bad as before and that is probably how it sounded in the first place. Way to go Shout! Factory for fixing this problem in a very timely manner.


THE FILM ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I have been hearing about this film since I was young. Everybody who has seen this film has told me how great and scary it was, but I never got around to watching the film until I decided to review it.

All I can say is Wow.

The film is dark, tense, and scary. Bob Clark, who would go on to ruin his career with Baby Genuises, directs the hell out of this film. The film opens with a POV shot of the killer climbing up the side of the house and going into the attic, where he climbs down into the house and hides inside one of the bedrooms as he waits for his first victim.

This opening would go on to become a staple in slasher films. The POV shot puts us into the killer’s shoes and Clark uses again throughout the film. There is one shot, when Billy goes crazy inside the attic that sent shivers down my spine. I have seen a lot of POV shots in slasher films, but this one was different. We have never been put into the shoes of someone has they are wrecking a room in anger. That shot, along with some others, has stuck with me  and it gets brought up when I talk to people about the film.

The film has some many of the now cliché things that you would find in a slasher film that I believe that they are too many to count. The killer hiding his identity, the killer stalking his prey, the police that don’t listen (initially), the red herring, the use of uncommon items as an instrument of death, the final girl. These are just some of the things that Bob Clark brought to the genre. The POV shot had been done before, but not to this extent.


Black Christmas also uses sound to an effect that I have never seen before. The sound here is amplified to a certain, rendering some of the sounds, especially Billy’s voice, to be unbearably creepy and unnerving. We dread every phone call the girls get because we know that we are going to hear what can only be described as the internal dialogue of a mad man said out loud.

One thing that I noticed as I was watching Black Christmas is the lack of jump scares. There are one or two that I remember (one of them happening during the lead up to the first kill.) Clark doesn’t rely on the jump scares because he knows that the atmosphere that he creating is and maintaining is way more effective than hitting the audience with a constant barrage of jump scares.

The characters in Black Christmas are also not your normal slasher characters that we know now. In the 70’s and 80’s, slasher film characters were, a lot of the time, portrayed as real characters with real motivations that thought like real people do. The lead character of Jess, played by the always wonderful Olivia Hussey, is pregnant and has to wrestle with wanting to terminate the pregnancy while the boyfriend wants to keep the child. You would not see something like this in a modern slasher film where all the characters think about is having sex, partying, and being really stupid and one dimensional.

Black Christmas is horror classic. It takes what was established in horror at the time and adds so much. This is the film that a lot of people talk about as creating many of the classic slasher film clichés. The film has aged incredible well and is still scary and nerve wrecking. The film has now been added to my Christmas time viewing and will stay there until I die or stop with Christmas all together.


OVERALL ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Black Christmas is a classic and Scream Factory has given the film the royal treatment. They gave the film a new 2K transfer that trumps all other transfers of the film. They also included the Critical Mass transfer   for those who don’t like the new one. They also gathered up all of the special features from all of the releases over the years and made them easily accessible. The sound is the only thing that Scream messed up with and they are rectifying the situation with replacement program.

If you are a fan of the film, there is no reason not to buy this version of the film. This is one of the best releases that Scream Factory have ever released and it is one of the best blu-ray releases of the 2016.


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