While Black Christmas plays more like a gruesome fable about the ominous ugliness of male entitlement, Halloween leans more into the darkness haunting suburbia. In the town of Haddonfield, where there are pretty white houses all in a row and no one locks their doors, evil can still be born. But the film makes pains to cement Myers as an otherworldly evil. Much like the killer in Black Christmas, Myers remains obscured. We can see his body, but we don't get a clear view of his adult face. He's constantly referred to as "the boogeyman" and the films the characters are seen watching, such as The Thing and Forbidden Planet, seem to be reinforcing the notion that Myers is an alien, an intruder, an anomaly.
This fact weakens David Gordon Green's recent Halloween, which grapples exclusively with the events of the 1978 film. The 2018 reboot attempts to explore Laurie's trauma while simultaneously doubling down on Myers being an inhuman monster with no understandable motives. There is no recognition of the misogyny and psychosexual implications of his killings -- there is only the resolution that he is "not like us" and therefore, must die. It feels like an inadequate bookend to a saga inspired by a film that was unafraid to suggest any man is capable of monstrous gendered violence (though we suspect this isn't the last we'll see of Michael Myers on the big screen). And despite its haunting ending line ("Agnes, it's me, Billy…"), Black Christmas never tells us who the killer is. He's hardly anything more than a silhouette, a pair of eyes, and a voice on the other end of a telephone line, his virtual anonymity implicating the humanity and real-world possibility of his actions.
There's no doubting that Black Christmas had all the advantages of being first of its kind. The film stands as the mother of the modern slasher. It was able to make its own rules, and subsequently created a template for the films that came after, including the deliciously satirical Slumber Party Massacre films. Nowadays, we approach slasher films with full knowledge of their formulas, getting our thrills from imaginative kills and watching people fight for their lives. But when Black Christmas was released in 1974, these conventions were still new and fresh. Even now, the film endures -- with a legacy that includes a 1976 novelization, a predictable 2006 remake that misunderstands the original, and a strong cult following -- thanks to its fascinating character work, timeless scares, and chilling plausibility.