Black Christmas (1974): A Response to the Sexual Revolution

Cinematic Doctrine Christian Movie Podcast Reviews Horror Slasher Black Christmas CinDoc

Black Christmas Podcast Transcript

Black Christmas (1974) – A Response to the Sexual Revolution

                Hi, my name’s Melvin, and seafood is great.

                Welcome to Cinematic Doctrine, a Christian podcast service that encourages and equips Christians to engage and reform the culture of cinema. Tonight, we’ll be looking at Bob Clark’s Black Christmas.

                This movie was chosen by the lovely patrons who support Cinematic Doctrine with a small monthly donation. For as little as $3, you too can have the opportunity to vote for a movie I review at the end of each month by heading over to Cinematic Doctrine’s Patreon. A link will be available in the shownotes.

                Released in 1974, Black Christmas is what one might call a proto-slasher. Although the horror sub-genre slasher was ignited to popularity with the release of John Carpenter’s Halloween, there are plenty of movies released in the years prior that had the same aesthetic as what would become the dominating horror genre of the 1980’s. Psycho is most notably the most popular of all proto-slashers, if not slasher’s in general, even if people don’t often consider Hitchcock’s titular film a slasher to begin with.

                But, it’s Black Christmas that would go on to heavily influence Halloween in the first place, as Carpenter’s break-out film was initially to be a Black Christmas sequel. Even so, with all this slasher-film talk, I think it’s easy to turn ones mind off and roll their eyes at the term, as though slasher films have little in the way of value, if not only harbor offensive content from start to finish.

                However, if you decide to continue with me, I think you’ll find this review both enlightening and convincing that the slasher genre has far more to offer than dead-teenagers and mindless violence.

                So, let’s get started. Let me tell you what Bob Clark’s Black Christmas is all about:

                Christmas break is right around the corner, and the sorority ladies of Pi-Kappa-Sigma are celebrating a Christmas party before everyone heads home. That is, until, Barb, played by Margot Kidder, receives a call from her mother. She’s busy, and Barb won’t be able to come home. Feeling resentful, Barb hangs up, wondering who her mother’s going to be spending her holidays with, and drinks the evening away.

                Meanwhile, Jess, Phyl, and Clare, played by Olivia Hussey, Andrea Martin, and Lynne Griffin respectively, are enjoying the festivities until the last moments of the evening. And as their boyfriends start to head home, Jess hears the phone ring again. This time, it’s the man they call the moaner. His vulgar calls have become a norm for the women of Pi-Kappa-Sigma, and they crowd around to hear his heinous speech over the phone-line. Barb then takes the phone, intending to play along, but not before the man mutters, “I’m going to kill you.” And hangs up.

                Clare, disgusted, warns Barb not to lead him on. She warns of extreme acts of violence that have been happening to other women on campus, let alone the women outside of their college grounds, but Barb lets it slide, acting as though it’s a childish game.

                And if that’s not enough, Jess and her boyfriend Peter, played by Keir Dullea, are at a crossroads. Jess is pregnant, and she’s not so sure she wants to keep the baby. Peter desperately wants to talk about it, but it must wait. He has a recital coming up, and while he wants nothing more than for Jess to keep the child, he can’t take time off from practicing. So, Jess waits at PKS house, struggling with her moral quandary amidst holiday fanfare.

                 December only grows worse as, one by one, the women of Pi-Kappa-Sigma go missing. So begins the horrendous holiday that is Black Christmas!

                Black Christmas is Rated R. It has no detailed certificate, so here’s my own certificate: Frightening images, violence and gore, brief sexual imagery, mild nudity, occasional vulgar speech, strong language, and crude humor.

                Let’s cover this in order:

                The film is frightening due to the violence, let-alone it being violence against women which is always harder to watch. And while frightening images can include acts of violence, some of it also comes along with the general tension of the film, as the pay-off to the tension is often a surreal aftermath following a violent act.

                I included gore as there is one brief scene toward the end that I feel would constitute as gore, but in all honesty the film isn’t graphic in the least. In fact, I would call Black Christmas a psychological horror, as there really isn’t all that much blood or graphic content. It’s more about the visuals, premise, etc. Even so, I still felt it important to mention this in my own custom certificate.

                The brief sexual imagery has to do with a poster during one scene that shows a rear-end during a sensual act. This poster is played off for a bit of laughs but that still doesn’t change the fact that the image contains real nudity. There’s also a poster in the middle of the film that is inappropriate, but the poster is in someone’s hands and neither focused nor angled appropriately for it to be properly seen. Also, played for a laugh, there’s a police officer in a scene who, unrelated to the entire plot, had been shot in the butt, and there’s a brief scene where, in the background, you see it. It’s strange and I think it’s just Bob Clark throwing in his comedy. Even so, it’s still present, and therefore constitutes mild nudity along with the posters.

                The occasional vulgar speech is perhaps the crudest aspect of the film, as the moaner says some undeniably horrific things through-out the film. Most notably, that first phone call is diabolical, and while it’s only in speech, it’s still extremely uncomfortable. That said, the scene is written to be uncomfortable, and even the women listening are petrified but the things he’s saying. Not only that, director Bob Clark makes sure to let us see their disgust, as he’s showing the other side of such horrid objectification.

                Barb also has a few inappropriate dialogues with other characters as she inhabits the promiscuous character of the sorority. There’s never anything visual involving her character, simply dialogue, but her speech may still be uncomfortable for some viewers.

                The strong language is largely due to the vulgar language the moaner uses over the phone. He uses a lot of highly provocative language, two words that start with C and one with P, so I’ll let you figure that one out. Apart from that, there are only 5 words that would largely be considered curse words through-out the runtime, and only one of them being the F word.

                And finally, the crude humor. This comes from Barb, as you may be suspecting. There are also some jokes that take place during a Christmas celebration held at the Pi-Kappa-Sigma house for the local children which amounts to a college student cursing as Santa Clause while a child is on his lap. I’ll be the first to say that I really dislike that sort of humor, the kind that basically borders on irreverent behavior heightened by the presence of children. In fact, it’s something I despise with a passion and outright offends me more than anything else in a film. Black Christmas is no exception, and I want to make that clear before we start rolling into the review.

                Oh, and it goes without saying that a sub-plot regarding abortion may be difficult for most viewers to engage, and I want to share that the film handles this weighty ethical topic with respect and maturity. At least, that’s how I stepped away from it. Other viewers may feel differently.

Now, before we take a look at Black Christmas, I wanted to share real quick that if you’ve come to enjoy Cinematic Doctrine and would like to support the show, be sure to leave a review on your respective podcast app at the end of this episode. You can also check out two new shows featured under Cinematic Doctrine called Trailer Talk and Monthly Movie News if you’re interested in more content. And be sure to check out CinematicDoctrine.com where you can also get connected with our social media.

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                You may still be recovering from the certification and so I want to address that first and foremost:

                While this film has a lot of content I dislike, from the use of nudity for a joke or the irresponsible use of children, virtually everything mentioned above is sparingly used and perhaps the most egregious aspect of the film is that the worst of it is tailored for the first act of the film. It’s almost like a bait-and-switch, as though Bob Clark is giving people what the want before he strips away the façade and says, “Actually, my film is a lot smarter than you think.”

                Commonly, when people think of slasher films, they associate them with a sleaze-fest that has tons of gore. And, while the worst the slasher genre has to offer is most definitely exploitative trash (see 10 of the 11 Friday the 13th films), like any genre out there, you’ll find not only standouts, but exceptionally good films.

                But this is a strange way to start a review for Black Christmas. How in the world could Bob Clark be bait-and-switching his audience in the first act if the standard conventions for slasher movies won’t be immortalized for another 4 years?

                I think, if anything, Bob Clark is simply bait-and-switching a common perspective on college students, as he felt that young adults weren’t being properly depicted in film. In fact, he wanted the film to capture, as he says, the astuteness of young adults. “They’re not fools,” he would go on to say. “It’s not all bikini’s, beach blankets.”

                And so, in a way, I wonder if the first act was a bit of an irony. He wanted to show the characters being, perhaps, a little stupid at times, or even irresponsible. Even so, he still had real child actors in the same room as a character angrily cusses in a santa costume, so it doesn’t change the fact that, despite whatever irony I perceive from these choices, he still ended up doing something I really, really dislike in movies.

                And yet, Bob Clark also directed everyone’s favorite holiday movie A Christmas Story, and there are some things that others might say are irresponsible in that film when looking at the standard I’m setting here, and while that may be partially true, I think there’s a different heart and maturity behind things like Ralphie going, “Oooooooh Fuuuuuuuuuudge” than, again, a college student muttering the F word with a child on his lap.

                If anything, it simply means Bob Clark matured in how he executes a joke like that. Or, the production company simply said, “You can’t have Ralphie curse!” and he went along with it because a paycheck is a convincing argument.

                Even so, the juxtaposition presented through-out the rest of the film isn’t all that unexpected. Like, the fact that our first act is irreverent and immature with the latter two acts growing in maturity isn’t unexpected. The start of the film is a college party that’s all too typical in sorority or fraternity films and while it isn’t nearly as, how do I say… inappropriate as modern films may depict a sorority or fraternity party, it’s still a fun time, only for Barb to receive that sad phone-call from her mother. It’s a pretty heart-breaking tone setter and it helps humanize a character that I think we’re quick to see as a caricature or satire on college students, let alone promiscuity.

                And I think I want to talk about that last bit, too. Barb as a character isn’t actively promiscuous but her speech patterns make it clear that sexuality is not something she’s ashamed of, and when this is put side-by-side with Clare, who seems appropriately prudish, Jess who is engaged in a moral dilemma due to her sexual choices, and Phyl who’s single but emotionally grounds each character, it almost starts to feel as though each character plays different parts of the same role.

                Now, I have some really interesting thoughts to share off of that thread, but I have to briefly mention a few practical things about this movie that I really enjoyed.

First, that cinematography is fantastic. Reginald H. Morris was the director of photography for Black Christmas and there are some beautiful shots that are so creative for a film set largely in one home. There are some shots where Jess is on the phone and we see her through the reflection in a mirror. On the mirror is either a wreath or hanging plant and it looks like a crown laid across her head. Or another sequence outside where a character is investigating something in the snow and the light outside is flared across the lens of the camera. Even the way the camera floats around PKS house creates an undeniable sense of unease, and that’s only made worse when a few scenes involve an incredibly convincing POV of the killer.

                 Second, the soundtrack is used sparingly but effectively, with a few holiday songs as well as some haunting atmospheric ambience created by Carl Zittrer who tied utensils and combs to the strings of a piano. It breaks down the otherwise romantic sensation a piano creates, further advancing the tone of the film being filled with loneliness, frightfulness, and mystery amidst the most festive time of the year.

                Third, this might be the most frightening slasher I’ve seen and it’s not even all that graphic. I know I keep saying that, like, in every review I cover for a horror movie. “It’s not even all that graphic!”, well, it isn’t! It’s the SUSPENSE that really does it here! I was on the edge of my seat watching this movie, and I could feel my skin crawling with anxiety. It’s insane!

                And fourth, John Saxon, who plays the Lt. Ken Fuller in this film, also plays a Lt. Thompson in the film Nightmare on Elm Street, so basically, he’s the same character across each film. Go ahead and start making your own head-canon about how the two are in the same universe.

                I just had to touch on those aspects of this movie. I couldn’t really figure out a comfortable way to bring this up and I was already starting to get ahead of myself, so I decided I’d just throw them here.

                Anyways, back to what I was saying before.

                I mentioned that I feel as though the women of Pi-Kappa-Sigma feel as though they play different parts to the same role, and that role is, in a sense, the role of second wave feminism.

                That might sound a little… strange, so let me explain.

                It’s not so much that they’re personifying particular characteristics of second wave feminism in an awkward, cartoonish, unrealistic fashion. It feels more like Barb, Jess, Clare, and Phyl are supposed to handle different traits of very real, very tangible, very relatable female characters.

                Let’s break it down:

                Barb is a promiscuous, unashamed, confident woman who would rather take control of the situation than let the situation take control of her. If that means playing along with perverse men, seizing conversation and twisting it for her own gain, or manipulating stupid men for her own amusement, she will. And all of this when the backdrop to her character is one where on the phone her mother says, “You’ll have to stay there. I’m with another man this Christmas.” It’s no wonder Barb is so unabashedly controlling, callous, and irreverent. And perhaps the most humanizing characteristic about Barb is that she has an inhaler. That sounds so… strange to say out loud, but there’s a vulnerability to that characteristic that simply explains how rich and complex she is as a woman.

                Clare is intelligent, aware of the world around her. She’s anything but naïve, and she plays it safe because she knows the world outside can be indifferent to a young woman such as herself. But there’s still a side of her that’s yearning to break free, wanting to break stereotypes and common conventions. She’s not sitting back and letting other people take care of her, she wants to make a statement, too. I think this is most evident with the posters hanging in her room, most comically is a poster of an old woman sitting in a nice gown who, over a series of photos, proceeds to sit up and shove her middle finger into the camera lens with an angry scowl.

                Phyl is caring and emotional, perhaps the most expressive of all the women in Pi-Kappa-Sigma as she lends an ear to a friend in a crisis or weeps into Jess’ shoulder over horrible news. But she isn’t helpless. She takes her deep emotions and puts them into action as she joins a search party for a missing girl or talks things out with those in her vicinity.

                And Jess, who not only carries the weight of the film on her shoulders, also carries the heavy burden of an all-too-common moral dilemma. She has dreams, aspirations, a career she wants to engage, and all of that may be on indefinite hold with her pregnancy. Unless she chooses to terminate, of course, in which case, she supposes, her life will return to normal. And that struggle is only heightened by a boyfriend who is more engaged with his career than his relationship, so she’s left on her own to labor these incredibly difficult thoughts.

                These are exceptional characters and the drama alone would be enough to keep one’s attention. And, we haven’t even talked about the murderer, or as the genre dictates, the slasher of this film, and who, or what, he represents.

When it comes to Black Christmas, especially when you consider that the film released in 1974 during second wave feminism and, you know, the sexual revolution, I can’t help but feel as though our slasher is nothing more than a metaphor.

Ooooooo, deeeeeep Melvin, he’s a metaaaapphoooooooorrrrr. It’s all a metaphor. Everythiiiiiing’s a mettaaaappphooooorr

                I know, I get it, how film student of me, just let me explain:

                The sexual revolution was a period between the 1960’s and 1980’s in western culture where normal conventions of sexuality where being heavily debated and reworked. Traditional heterosexual, marital engagements were being challenged in some sense, but the primary pursuit was to normalize alternative sexual experiences. I don’t need to get into details on that in particular, but it’s important to recognize that this wasn’t necessarily the first time traditional heterosexual marriage was under attack, as this took place in the late 1800’s into the early 1900’s as well, but for obvious reasons, we’re sticking to the 60’s through the 80’s.

                Cause, you know, the film released in ’74.

                But it’s important to note that this wasn’t the first time these conventions were under attack, as things like this don’t just happen, they brew like a soft simmer on a stove. Cultures are constantly cooking new ways to change and, unfortunately, the sexual revolution is one of these cases.

                Apart from the horrid after affects such as the normalization of perverse literature and film, there were also medical travesties that took place amidst and after the sexual revolution, as even the following AIDS epidemic of the 1980’s was an aftershock of increased non-traditional sexual engagement.

                Now, let’s start by saying this. The sexual revolution sucked. I think many people are starting to realize this, culturally speaking, as we continue to suffer the aftershocks of an increasingly sexual culture. Many of the things the west struggles with such as teen pregnancy, sexual assault, exploitation of minors, STD’s, abortion, were happening during and then heightened because of the sexual revolution.

                And this is without digging into the most obvious problem as a Christian: it’s sinful. Sex outside of heterosexual marriage is an afront to God, just like any other sin is an afront to God, and therefore shouldn’t be encouraged. So, the sexual revolution in that sense is a bad thing.

                Now, other things often get wrapped up with the sexual revolution, involving the women’s movement of the 1960’s and I think it’s important to make the distinction here that the film Black Christmas isn’t so much a film I would put in the category of “sexual revolution” and more in the category of “second wave feminism”.

                The reason I spent that time giving a background on the sexual revolution is because the two, in a manner of speaking, go hand in hand, as second wave feminism pursued a cultural shift in how women are perceived and respected, while encouraging them to pursue worthwhile, fulfilling work.

                You see, statistically speaking, women who become pregnant are less likely to become financially successful than women who don’t become pregnant. And while women are being encouraged to engage their individuality through the workplace, the culture surrounding them is encouraging everyone to engage their individuality sexually, and we all know what the result of sex is.

                No wonder, then, that a worldly ideology seeking to encourage cultural promiscuity is met with a worldly solution in abortion. And while I’m not really in the market to talk about abortion with this episode, you can’t avoid it when the film covers it heavily in one of its sub-plots.

                Black Christmas, at its core, feels like a response to the sexual revolution, and that response comes from the voice of second wave feminism, and each character, as we noted, shows different individual characteristics of women. Because, you know, they’re people, not products or consumers.

                So, with this new perspective in mind, let’s contrast each character against the metaphor that is the killer.

                Barb, in response to the unhealthy parenting of her mother’s promiscuous lifestyle, which we can assume Barb has dealt with since childhood, decides the best way to combat her feelings of loneliness, abandonment, and ultimately, pain is to overtake them in a dominant manner, responding to cat-calls with flirtatious teasing, one-night stands, and immersing herself in sexual pleasures, because a numbing lifestyle is far more bearable than a painful one. But we know this doesn’t work. Like Clare warns in the beginning of the movie, the moaner over the phone shouldn’t be encouraged. It could lead to something horrible. And as the film moves forward in typical slasher fashion, it does.

                When you input the picture Barb paints in a real world setting, it’s perhaps the closest image we get of both the sexual revolution and second wave feminism, that the response to an ever-growing sexual culture is to embrace it, despite the fact that it’s one that objectifies women to such a vile degree, it’s culturally killing them.

                Of course, in the case of Black Christmas, it’s literally killing women.

                And then there’s Clare, the budding young woman of sorority Pi-Kappa-Sigma, who wants to do more for herself, for women, for those she loves, and when you input her into the real-world setting, you witness the fresh start of a woman who’s ready to embrace her individuality, cautiously navigating the world. But sometimes, the world doesn’t wait for you to trip-up, stumble and fall, and become vulnerable to attack. Those who are pure at heart are going to get caught in the crossfire, and you can see that in the example of sexual harassment in the workplace, whether through overt physical contact or unsolicited remarks, and most horribly, indiscriminate sexual assault.

                And even Phyl, I believe, could be put alongside Clare in this case as her involvement in Black Christmas, while important, is largely innocuous. She’s a great support for her friends, actively outwardly expressing a caring, selfless heart in the way she shows her care for others. And while I must say there isn’t explicitly anything in her character that, I feel, would easily paint the picture of feminism versus sexual revolution, she has an amazing scene that’s both comical and enlightening later in the film that fits the feminist bill.

                Phyl and Jess are at home doing some menial tasks when a man’s face shows up in the window. Phyl shrieks, and Jess runs over to make sure everything’s okay just before the door knocks. They’re panicked, especially when the one man is carrying a shotgun, but soon find out they’re only men on patrol for whoever’s killing women. Citizen’s patrol, nothing more.

                But the scene lingers, and these two older men, one with a shotgun, are aggressively asking the women questions, who are visibly uncomfortable, about whether they knew someone was missing, seen anything suspicious, and were safe.

                And when Jess tries to shut the door after assuring them they’re fine, they would keep propping it open with their feet or hands so they could speak talking, completely missing context clues over and over that, oh, I don’t know, maybe they should leave?

                It’s an amazing scene because it really is kind of funny, especially when Jess locks the door and remarks, “You know this is the only door or window we can lock in this house?”

                But it also briefly paints this picture of how these men, while doing a good thing, inadvertently are do a bad thing. Namely, disrespecting women. I mean, come on dudes, the second you saw it was two young women at the door, you should have said your piece and moved on!!! It’s so inappropriate to do what you’re doing! Stop shoving a gun in their face!

                And I guess I’d put this forward to the female listeners, how many times have you had this sort of thing happen? I know my wife has had to politely expedite a conversation with men when she’s alone, or even when she’s with people knowing full-well it’s headed in an inappropriate direction. And it may not be intentional, that the man is talking the way they are, but just because someone isn’t aware of their disrespect or inappropriate behavior doesn’t absolve responsibility.

                And then, finally, you have Jess, whose determined in her studies, has dreams and aspirations for her career, and wants to pursue more than simply being a stepford wife. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

                But when you pair that alongside the sexual revolution, you can see why she might ponder the question of abortion. When you put into perspective the cost a child has on both career and financial success, when you see that businesses seldom provide maternal or paternal leave, when you recognize the exorbitant price for daycare, when you recognize first-hand the socially isolating experience of being a stay-at-home parent, no wonder Jess, and so many women, turn to abortion for a solution.

                 But the first mistake was premarital sex, the first mistake is consciously separating marriage, sex, and procreation. And while sex isn’t primarily intended to be a means of procreation, it is intended to primarily be engaged in covenant marriage, because, ideally, there’s confidence in the support provided among the marriage unit, extended family, and even the church if you have one

                And, perhaps, as an aside, the sexual revolution wasn’t merely a pursuit to normalize alternative sexual experiences, but also emphasized that the church may have been insufficiently preaching on sex, not painting the proper, God-honoring picture that in marriage, it’s a gift to engage with one another, to enjoy such intimate vulnerability emotionally, physically, and even spiritually. Or, perhaps, the church didn’t talk about sex at all, and therefore, as sexual beings, because we are sexual beings, that’s how we’re made, there was an intense repression of questions and feelings and struggles – so the bubble burst.

And bubbles are messy.

                So, Jess conundrum is almost a movie, in fact I feel as though the entire abortion sub-plot could be considered unrelated or even inappropriate considering the film itself. “What is a slasher film doing with such a serious sub-plot?” some might ask. But, as I’ve argued, the film released far into both the sexual revolution and second wave feminism, so it seems plausible to me that the point is to continue that theme and tone.

                And we can’t talk about Jess without talking about her boyfriend Peter, who is just as responsible for her pregnancy as she is, but perhaps the biggest difference is that, unlike Jess, Peter isn’t suffering the consequences in the same way. Regardless of whether Jess is pregnant or not, Peter’s career isn’t affected in the least. His dreams for the future don’t change in the least. If she’s pregnant, that’s great. If she’s not, that’s great too, because as far as he’s concerned, his career is fine, and the sex is great.

                And what we start to see in Jess’ character and subplot, perhaps the most evidently than all the other characters or subplots, is the cost of the sexual revolution, and the victims of it: Women.

                I’ll keep this brief because it’s such a cyclical thing, but Barb is responding to a life of negligence because of her mother’s own promiscuity, and in turn propagates promiscuity. Clare represents the idealist who can see the good in both second wave feminism (the pursued individuality of women) and the sexual revolution (which, at its best, causes us to reform our views on sex beyond purely a practice for procreation). Phyl is stuck in the middle of all this chaos and plays an integral character who supports those in need. And Jess literally in the thick of it, weighing the options presented to her by both the sexual revolution and second wave feminism, having to reconcile both the fact that, she’s stuck between them, and that the two are grossly incompatible.

                And the killer? The slasher? The moaner? The reality is, it’s too late. He represents the failure of these two worldviews clashing against one another. The sexual revolution did nothing more than advance the grotesque objectification of women, creating men that sought to increase their conquest of the female body. Let’s sleep with one, two, three women. Let’s try this. Let’s try that. Ultimately this does nothing more than turn sex into a self-gratifying experience, and at some point, that wears out. But you’ve been told sex is the most enlightening experience of anything this world can offer, so you try more and more until more extreme sex is required, and now you’re stuck leaving horrid phone calls on the Pi-Kappa-Sigma call receiver, or murdering women because, it doesn’t matter whether they’re alive or dead, they’re just objects.

                There’s immense hyperbole in Black Christmas because the majority of men in real life aren’t going around murdering women, but sexual promiscuity does nothing more than feed the ego for the worse, and we can’t talk about this without mentioning Ted Bundy, the infamous serial killer of the 1970’s who he himself said that, in an interview, alluded to his own fascination of pornography, that the only way someone could do the things he was being tried for, would be through systematic objectification of women.

                Now, am I ignoring men and the toll the sexual revolution has on them? YEAH, I mean that’s not what the movie is about. The movie is purely focused on the female perspective. That’s not to say there isn’t a male cost, there is, it’s just that this film is focused on engaging and understanding the female perspective and painting it through the lens of a slasher film.

                And, while Black Christmas hyperbolizes the effects of the sexual revolution amidst second wave feminism, it also takes the time to paint the objectifying nature that can grow in men naturally, as Peter isn’t all that great of a guy, either. He basically says to Jess, “Yeah, I know you’re pregnant, and I know you want to kill our baby, but I have to practice for this recital.”

                Like, come on, dude!

                And he really seems to treat Jess like a commodity, like something he owns, like something he can stuff into a schedule, like something he can manipulate for his own gains. It might even be safe to assume that, the pregnancy happened because of his own willing irresponsibility. They most definitely shouldn’t have been fornicating in the first place, there’s no doubt about that, but Peter’s manipulation is so sinister, there’s even a line where Jess defends his rude behavior as simply a characteristic of his artistic personality.

                Like, no, sweety, you don’t have to apologize for him being a total dirt-bag.

                And I think, when stepping away from Black Christmas, despite its 1974 release, the problem presented within the film, and the subsequent victims there-of, are very much still real today. It’s still here. It hasn’t gone anywhere. That phone is still ringing. Pornography is rampant and easier to acquire than ever. Sexual harassment in the workplace is commonplace. Hook-up culture is as casual as ever. And even the movie itself, ironically enough, suffers the layover of the sexual revolution, as the film itself features brief yet real nudity.

                So, where does that put us now?

                Kind of in a hopeless place, doesn’t it?

                Fortunately, it seems our culture is recognizing, at the very least, the aftermath of the sexual revolution, what-with the #MeToo movement, social reforms, and the like. There is a bit of a struggle in the fact that culture wants to have its cake and eat it, too. It wants to encourage sexual exploration while discouraging, basically, everything bad about that (which, pro-tip, is everything), but there’s something good to the natural, common grace budding out of the aftermath.

However, most importantly, the church itself seems to be slowly, but surely, opening up about proper sexual engagement, that it’s more than pro-creation. It’s an explicit, intimate act of love between spouses.

And the church is also recognizing that there is a healthy way to fight against these sexual sins. One way is by, you know, not demonizing individuals who struggle with sexual sins, especially in the LGBTQ+ crowd. But all sins can be paid for by the precious blood of Christ. To think that there is even one sin that the Lord cannot atone for would imply that that sin, in effect, is more powerful than He is. If that’s the case, then he’s not God, because God is all powerful. Thankfully, the Lord has been working in his people to help them recognize this truth, which not only helps to invite the LGBTQ+ in the front door of your local church, it also helps to encourage the church to recognize and reconsider his sovereignty.

Which, by the way, is infinite.

It’s learned to recognize that sexual sin can often be the product of other deeply rooted sins or sufferings. I mean, I mentioned in Black Christmas how Barb’s character is likely engaging in promiscuous activities in response to the pain amounted by her mother’s negligence. Who else has sought out sexual sins like they would a band-aid? It can be a numbing experience.

It’s learning to recognize the necessity for vulnerability, not only for the one engaging in sexual sin, but also for the pastor, elder, family member, or friend to hear these deeply rooted issues shared from the heart.

So, it’s not hopeless, but sometimes it feels that way, because like Black Christmas, there’s someone out there who is an absolute maniac exploiting people sexually, physically, and emotionally for their own personal gain.

And I think that evaluation must start at home. And I’m going addressing both men and women here:

How are you objectifying others? Are you overtly objectifying men and women through sexual means? Because if you are, quit it!

But maybe your struggle is more like Peter. Maybe you’re a subtle manipulator. You know how to control people through your words and emotions and have absolutely no need for physical control. If that’s the case, you need to stop it just as much as the other guy. Both are affronts to God, completely dehumanizing and lack any recognition of the image-bearing quality of your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

                1st Corinthians 6:9-11

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.

And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified I the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

 Thanks so much for tuning in to this episode of Cinematic Doctrine, if you’ve seen Black Christmas, what did you think of it? Do you think it’s one of the best slasher’s ever made, or do you think it’s goes a tad too far into the offensive? If you’re listening on Cinematic Doctrine’s website, let me know in the comments below, or shoot me an email to cinematicdoctrine@gmail.com.

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Until next time, stay cool!


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Melvin Benson Cinematic Doctrine Christian Movie Podcast Host

Melvin Benson is the Founder, Editor-In-Chief, and Lead Host of Cinematic Doctrine. He’s written fiction and nonfiction for over a decade with short stories featured on the Creepypasta Wiki and Wattpad. His novelette Ethereal Temptation, a teen drama with a tinge of magical-realism, can be read for free here. His hope is to see King Jesus glorified as far as the east is from the west!

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