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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka 'Silent Night, Evil Night' or 'Stranger in the House')

 

directed by Bob Clark
USA 1974

This truly is a classic horror film that acts as a bridge of sorts between the horror movies of old and what was to come in the more modern ones. It is a throwback in that it never reveals many things, such as the killer’s past, their motives, or even shows the killings themselves. It’s all left to you to decipher. But while its means are of the old school, the story is all too modern – a male killer stalking young women, a loved holiday turned violent, and a heroine who must overcome her own fear to survive a madman who seems inhuman. Director Bob Clark creates a feeling of dread that begins as soon as you see the killer ascend the trellis and that lasts well past the film has ended. And as cut and dry as the film could be, as easy as having just a mysterious murderer chasing down nubile teens, Clark complicates things by creating a madman that seems to be living and re-living a secret past which we can only dreadfully imagine, adding a layer to the film that keeps you unnerved. This is a film about the hidden horrors of childhood and the horrors in becoming an adult, never finding a safe place in either world and always on the verge of becoming a victim. Black Christmas is as much a film about the horrors of what a before you as it is about the horror laying within us all, hidden from view but there just the same.

Excerpt from Jackass Critics located HERE

Posters

 

Theatrical Release: October 11th, 19741

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Comparison: 

Eclectic DVD Dist. (25th Anniversary) - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Somerville House (Special Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Somerville House - Region 'A' Blu-ray vs. Shout! Factory [Collector's Edition] - Region 'A' Blu-ray

 

1) Eclectic DVD Dist. (25th Anniversary) - Region 0 - NTSC LEFT

2) Somerville House (Special Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC SECOND

3) Somerville House - Region 'A' - Blu-ray THIRD

4) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

Box Covers

Distribution

Eclectic DVD Dist. (25th Anniversary)

Region 0 - NTSC

Somerville House (Special Edition)

Region 0 - NTSC

Somerville House

Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Shout! Factory [Collector's Edition]

Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Runtime 1:37:33 1:37:39 1:37:49 1:37:51.615 

Video

1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 4.83 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.78:1 Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.19 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

Feature: 11.9 Gig

1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

1:78:1

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 34,536,119,087 bytes

Feature: 34,209,423,360 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 35.00 Mbps

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate : Eclectic - 25th Anniversay

Bitrate: Somerville (Special Edition)

Bitrate:  Shout! Factory 2K - Disc One Blu-ray

Bitrate:  Shout! Factory - Critical Mass Disc Two Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono) English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital Mono), DUB: French (Dolby Digital Mono) Dolby Digital Audio English 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / DN -4dB, English (Dolby Digital Mono), DUB: French (Dolby Digital Mono)

DTS-HD Master Audio English 4043 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4043 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 2106 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2106 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1777 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1777 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentaries:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Audio Interview With Director Bob Clark:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB

Subtitles None None None English (SDH), None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Eclectic DVD Dist.

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• 2 interviews with John Saxon

• Text filmographies

• Theatrical Trailer (2:10 / 4:3)

DVD Release Date: November 6th, 2001
Keep case

Chapters 14

Release Information:
Studio: Somerville House (Special Edition)
 

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• Two newly-discovered original scenes with a new vocal soundtrack
• "The 12 Days of Black Christmas" featurette
• Interview segments with Olivia Hussey, Art Hindle and Margot Kidder
• Midnight screening Q&A with John Saxon, Bob Clark, and Carl Zittrer
 

DVD Release Date: December 5th, 2006
Keep Case

Chapters 36

Release Information:
Studio: Somerville House
Blu-ray

 

Feature: 11.9 Gig

1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

1:78:1

 

Edition Details:
• Two newly-discovered original scenes with a new vocal soundtrack
• "The 12 Days of Black Christmas" featurette
• Interview segments with Olivia Hussey, Art Hindle and Margot Kidder
• Midnight screening Q&A with John Saxon, Bob Clark, and Carl Zittrer
 

Blu-ray Release Date: November 11th, 2008
Standard Blu-ray case

Chapters 36

Release Information:
Studio: Shout! Factory

 

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 34,536,119,087 bytes

Feature: 34,209,423,360 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 35.00 Mbps

 

Edition Details:
DISC ONE:
[Collector's Edition]
• NEW 2016 2K Scan Of The Negative (1.85:1) – DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, • DTS-HD Master Audio Mono
• Audio Commentary With Director Bob Clark
• Audio Commentary With Actors John Saxon And Keir Dullea
• Audio Commentary With Billy (Actor Nick Mancuso)
• Audio Interview With Director Bob Clark (26:01)

DISC TWO:
• 2006 Critical Mass HD Master (1.78:1) – Dolby 5.1
• NEW Film And Furs – Remembering Black Christmas With Art Hindle (26:11)
• NEW Victims And Virgins – Remembering Black Christmas With Lynne Griffin (26:35)
• Black Christmas Legacy (40:22)
• 40th Anniversary Panel At FanExpo 2014 Featuring John Saxon, Art Hindle, Lynne Griffin & Nick Mancuso (18:02)
• On Screen!: Black Christmas Featurette (48:41)
• 12 Days Of Black Christmas Featurette (19:48)
• Black Christmas Revisited Featurette (36:25)
• Archival Interviews With Olivia Hussey, Art Hindle, Margot Kidder, Bob Clark, & John Saxon (1:41:30)
• Midnight Screening Q&A With Bob Clark, John Saxon And Carl Zittrer (20:21)
• Two Scenes With A New Vocal Soundtrack (3:04)
• Original Theatrical Trailers (English And French) (8:16)
• Original TV And Radio Spots (3:06)
• Alternative Title Sequences (2:45)
• Still Gallery (Click-thru)
 

Blu-ray Release Date: December 5th, 2016
Standard Blu-ray case

Chapters 36

 

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were obtained directly from the Blu-ray disc.

 

ADDITION: Shout! Factory Blu-ray - December 16': The new Blu-ray 'Collector's Edition' of 1974's Black Christmas includes a new 2016 2K scan of the original negative (1.85:1) on the first Blu-ray and a ' 2006 Critical Mass HD Master' (1.78:1) on a second Blu-ray. It looks to me that the second disc transfer of the film mimics the Somerville House 2008 Blu-ray but I am not positive as we didn't do technical deconstruction of the discs back then. Both have low bitrates and are in 1.78:1. The new 2016 2K scan of the original negative (1.85:1) starts with this screen:

While the Critical Mass (2nd Blu-ray) starts with this screen:

 

You can see the differences below - the new 2K scan has much cooler skin tones and the colors appear more realistic to me. It is transferred to a dual-layered disc with a max'ed out bitrate and grain is rich and consistent. It is slightly cropped compared to the 2008 Blu-ray and the Critical Mass (both are 1.78 and, we assume, 'opened-up'.) Without going to the pixel-level on contrast and detail I think this 2K Shout! Factory is the best the film has looked on digital. It looks impressive in-motion - no noise, artifacts, or digitization flaws of any kind.

 

Shout! Factory don't hold back on the audio options with the choice of DTS-HD Masters in 5.1 surround (untested), 2.0 channel stereo (downmix of the surround) and 2.0 channel, original, mono. They are all 24-bit and the mono sounds tight and there is some depth notable in the effects but mostly the haunting score by Carl Zittrer (Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things, Blood Orgy of the She Devils, Porky's, Deranged, Dead of Night.) Shout! Factory include optional English (SDH) subtitles - see sample below. Their Blu-ray is region 'A'-locked.

 

NOTE: Fans are upset with the 5.1 bump and mono tracks (adding/altering effects, hiss - "S" distortion - and music!) - that have serious issues - and we expect Shout! Factory to make a statement.

 

Shout! Factory totally stack the disc with 3 audio commentaries (only on the 2K restoration) - the first with director Bob Clark, a second with actors John Saxon and Keir Dullea and a third with Billy (actor Nick Mancuso). On the first disc there is also a 26-minute, audio-only, interview with director Clark.

 

The second Blu-ray - with the 2006 'Critical Mass' HD Master (1.78:1) transfer that only takes up 14 Gig - has plenty of supplemental material (it's a dual-layered disc) - over 5 hours worth. Highlights include Film And Furs Remembering Black Christmas a new 25-minute piece with Art Hindle and Victims And Virgins Remembering Black Christmas a new 27-minute video with Lynne Griffin. There is also a 'Legacy' featurette as well as On Screen!: Black Christmas, 12 Days Of Black Christmas, over 1 hour 40-minites worth of archival interviews With Olivia Hussey, Art Hindle, Margot Kidder, Bob Clark, & John Saxon, 20-minute following a Midnight Screening Q&A With Bob Clark, John Saxon And Carl Zittrer, the two scenes with a new vocal soundtrack as found on the 2006 DVD plus radio and TV Spots and alternative title sequences a, click-thru, stills gallery and more.

 

Shout! Factory have left no stone unturned and this is one of the most complete Blu-ray releases of the year. Fans of Black Christmas - and there are many - should be thrilled with this release! This immensely memorable horror via 2K Blu-ray restoration gets our highest recommendation! 

***

ADDITION: Somerville House continues to produce digital versions of Bob Clark's horror classic 'Black Christmas'. This time it's on Blu-ray. Although only being 12 Gig - the feature improves in color and film grain looks very intact. Detail does not appear to dramatically advance from their dual-layered SE from 2006. The biggest bonus over their latest edition is that it is progressively transferred as opposed to interlaced - as both SD-DVDs that we compared below. It is quite probable that a vast increase in the file size, improving compression, may not overly benefit this 35-year old film's presentation on digital. The real star of this new is the grain - if you enjoy that - it is here in abundance. Minor noise still exists mind you but I have a strong feeling that this Blu-ray image looks precisely as it did originally.

NOTE: Alex says (in email) - "What I see in the shots is grain plus a very heavy amount of macro blocking. The bitrate was set way too low for a film with this much grain. You should have mentioned that. That they only used less than half the available space on the Blu-ray is a crude mastering error or oversight. There is no reason to cap the bitrate that much." (Thanks Alex!)

Dan says (in email): "Perhaps if he (Alex) looked at uncompressed bmp or tiff screenshots then he wouldn't see the heavy macro-blocking, which is actually jpeg compression in your screens. Black Christmas was professionally encoded and QC'd and as you know is about as good as it will look. There is no Macro Blocking in this release. It was a two pass VBR that took about 16-20 hours to encode. regards Dan" (thanks Dan!)

Aside from the improvement in the image - there is nothing really new. Audio has the same options and I noted no radical separations in the 5.1 although a few rear speaker experiences were noted. There are still no subtitles offered.

Although extras are the same as the SE - on this Blu-ray they are all in 1080P - even the 4:3 interviews.

Bottom line - I think you'd have to really love film grain and be a big fan of this, the original 'Black Christmas', to feel it being worthwhile indulging. Of course, if you haven't seen the film or don't own the SD, then this may be more appealing to horror aficionados. It remains a bona-fide chiller of a film and the high-definition presentation gives you reason not to be alone in the house during your viewing.

Eric says: 'Re: BLACK CHRISTMAS, its too bad that with the extra space on a Blu-Ray disc (especially with the too-low bitrate here) that they did not work in the two commentary tracks (one by Bob Clark, the other edited from separate sessions featuring John Saxon and Keir Dullea) from the earlier non-anamorphic widescreen release and the other extras on that release." (Thanks Eric!)

***

ON THE SD-DVDS: The Eclectic DVD release from 2001 used the 'negative' ratio where the new Somerville House Special Edition uses the intended theatrical ratio of 1.85 (cropped slightly for anamorphicity at 1.78). You can see how much information you were missing with the Eclectic edition (and its not much) but more importantly the new Special Edition offers us the film in its intended theatrical ratio - certainly an important benefit. The new release is also brighter, but I suspect it has been artificially induced. Hence you can see some differences in the colors. Neither are progressively transferred (see last capture) but the 'combing' on the SE is finer and less intrusive - still this is a black mark on the DVD image quality. Artifacts are visible on both and I wouldn't say the newer release is extensively sharper at all. The older release is on a single layered disc and the new is dual layered.

The new SE offers far more supplements and they are fairly interesting for this campy cult favorite. I saw it fairly close to the time it was originally released and it's a film that definitely stays with you. Its reputation is deserved and it's is worth a spin when you are in the mood. 

Gary W. Tooze


DVD Menus

(Eclectic DVD Dist. (25th Anniversary) - Region 0 - NTSC LEFT vs. Somerville House (Special Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC RIGHT)

 

 
 
 

 

Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
 

 

Shout! Factory Disc 2 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
 

 


Screen Captures

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle Sample Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

 

 

1) Eclectic DVD Dist. (25th Anniversary) - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Somerville House (Special Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC SECOND

3) Somerville House - Region 'A' - Blu-ray THIRD

4) Shout! Factory (2K) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray FOURTH

5) Shout! Factory (Critical Mass) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

1) Eclectic DVD Dist. (25th Anniversary) - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Somerville House (Special Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC SECOND

3) Somerville House - Region 'A' - Blu-ray THIRD

4) Shout! Factory (2K) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray FOURTH

5) Shout! Factory (Critical Mass) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

1) Eclectic DVD Dist. (25th Anniversary) - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Somerville House (Special Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC SECOND

3) Somerville House - Region 'A' - Blu-ray THIRD

4) Shout! Factory (2K) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray FOURTH

5) Shout! Factory (Critical Mass) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

1) Eclectic DVD Dist. (25th Anniversary) - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Somerville House (Special Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC SECOND

3) Somerville House - Region 'A' - Blu-ray THIRD

4) Shout! Factory (2K) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

1) Eclectic DVD Dist. (25th Anniversary) - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Somerville House (Special Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC SECOND

3) Somerville House - Region 'A' - Blu-ray THIRD

4) Shout! Factory (2K) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

1) Eclectic DVD Dist. (25th Anniversary) - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Somerville House (Special Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC SECOND

3) Somerville House - Region 'A' - Blu-ray THIRD

4) Shout! Factory (2K) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) Eclectic DVD Dist. (25th Anniversary) - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Somerville House (Special Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC SECOND

3) Somerville House - Region 'A' - Blu-ray THIRD

4) Shout! Factory (2K) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

NOTE: Both DVDs are interlaced...

 

 


More Blu-ray captures:

 

1) Somerville House - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Shout! Factory (2K) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Somerville House - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Shout! Factory (2K) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Somerville House - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Shout! Factory (2K) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Box Covers

Distribution

Eclectic DVD Dist. (25th Anniversary)

Region 0 - NTSC

Somerville House (Special Edition)

Region 0 - NTSC

Somerville House

Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Shout! Factory [Collector's Edition]

Region 'A' - Blu-ray


Report Card:

 

Image:

Shout! Factory / Blu-ray

Sound:

Shout! Factory / Blu-ray

Extras: Shout! Factory / Blu-ray

 


 



 

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