Black Christmas, directed by the mighty Bob Clark, brings up again the debate that has been raging in my mind for all of the 10 years I have been blogging about movies: does an unsatisfying ending ruin the whole picture? In this case, I’m going to say no. I’m not even usually a fan of slasher movies, but if I had to pick only one to watch forever, Black Christmas might be it.

Of course, the film raises other important questions, like why didn’t Shelley Winters play the housemother? And is this a Christmas movie or a horror movie?

In that classification challenge it does mirror Clark’s career in general by encompassing more than one genre: it’s easy to find humor (albeit uncomfortable humor) one of the most memorable elements of the film, but then the phone calls from the killer are genuinely unsettling. Bob Clark may have been the only director to make a successful series of sex comedies AND a family friendly Christmas movie that got played for 24 hours in a row every Christmas on cable, all in the space of about five years. I guess he just fucking loved Christmas.

To add to that he also helped get a TV show cancelled that he wasn’t even involved in, when the raunchiness of Porky’s 2 caused Kim Cattrall and Art Hindle to be fired from the CBS show Tucker’s Witch after their pilot was filmed.

One thing that’s impossible to deny is that Black Christmas has a heck of a cast. Included are John Saxon, Margot Kidder, Andrea Martin, Art Hindle, Keir Dullea, and Olivia Hussey, who as an aside you didn’t ask for I think might be one of the most beautiful women ever to appear on film. It’s not exactly a style over substance film, but the atmosphere and the cast do more for me than the story itself.

What movies do you find to have a less-than-ideal ending? I immediately think of The Last Broadcast, although that conclusion wasn’t as much ambiguous as incongruous.