Sunday, 30 December 2012
For many years, it's been my festive tradition to sit down by the fire with Bob Clark's horror masterpiece 'BLACK CHRISTMAS'.
Made in 1974, this film defined the modern 'slasher' movie, and has rarely -if ever- been bettered. A thoroughly nasty tale, made all the more sinister by fabulous cinematography, and Carl Zittrer's unsettling score. 'Billy', the deranged killer, is without a doubt the most disturbing screen maniac of all time, and the mere thought of him is enough to freeze even my blood.
His series of twisted phone calls to the sorority house make for extremely distressing listening, and paint a bloody mental picture of infanticide, and the most severe psychopathic disorders imaginable. His first call is pure obscenity (be warned), but chillingly ends with the calmly delivered statement: "I'm going to kill you".
What follows is a mind-bending outburst of insanity each time the telephone is answered.
Composer Carl Zittrer had worked with director Bob Clark before, scoring the wonderfully eerie music for Clark's 1972 'DeathDream'. Another film that left me feeling uneasy for days after my first viewing.
His 'Black Christmas' soundtrack makes a perfect accompaniment to the terrors depicted on-screen, and hugely adds to the ever-present menace in the air.
"Carl Zittrer, stated in an interview that he created the film's mysterious music by tying forks, combs and knives onto the strings of the piano in order to warp the sound of the keys. Zittrer also stated that he would distort the sound further by recording its sound onto an audio tape and make the sound slower. The audio for the disturbing phone calls was performed by actor Nick Mancuso, director Bob Clark and an unknown actress. Mancuso stated in an interview that he would stand on his head during the recording sessions to make his voice sound more demented."
In making this custom soundtrack recording it was necessary to include moments of dialogue and effects that would have been impossible to remove without severely spoiling the nightmarish mood. After some deliberation, I decided to edit out John Saxon's speech towards the end, as this would have revealed a major twist in the plot for anyone who hasn't seen the film. I chose to keep the protracted sound of the ticking clock and winter wind in the final minutes, as careful listeners will pick up a variety of disturbing whispers in the background; all essential to the overall effect.
Lastly, I've included the audio from the original cinema trailer, which is a masterful piece of editing, and an effective distillation of the music and madness of this classic.
Duration 37:25. 320kbps mp3. Download from here or here
I wish it could be Black Christmas everyday!