Black Christmas is a 1974 Canadian horror film, directed by Bob Clark, which has a very large cult following. It was written by Roy Moore, and based largely on a series of murders in Montreal, Canada, around Christmas time. Black Christmas stars Olivia Hussey as a young college student who must deal with a deranged killer lurking in her sorority house. It also features Margot Kidder and Andrea Martin, before either had gained fame in the United States, John Saxon and Keir Dullea round out the cast. The film's score is by Carl Zittrer, and was marketed with the tagline "If this movie doesn't make your skin crawl... It's on too tight!"
The next day, Clare's father arrives to pick her up, but she isn't there. Nobody has seen her since the night before. Jess talks to her boyfriend Peter. Jess is pregnant and they discuss whether or not they should become parents. Peter suggests they get married, but Jess tells him she doesn't want to marry him, or have the baby. Jess, at the house, gets another obscene phone call from the Killer. The sorority girls and Ms. Mac are at the police station to report that Clare is nowhere to be found. Peter, obviously distraught from his earlier conversation with Jess, fails at playing an important piano recital before judges. Later he is shown in the room smashing the piano.
Back at the house, Ms. MacHenry gets ready to leave, but hears the cat Claude meowing from somewhere in the attic. Ms. Mac peers into the attic and sees Clare dead and the Killer holding a crane hook directly in front of her. The hook hits her in the face, killing her instantly and pulls her up into the attic. The sorority girls, still outside, are assisting in a hunt for a missing girl who is found dead, murdered by an unknown assailant. Jess, returning to the house, gets another obscene phone call from the Killer. After the call, she meets Peter who wants to talk to her about the baby. She tells him she has decided to get an abortion, Peter begins to behave strangely and becomes emotionally distraught. A police officer is outside keeping an eye on the house, and Peter stays outside behind a tree looking at the house.
Barb, having drunk far too much, heads to bed and the Killer leaves the attic. As Jess and Phyllis listen to carolers outside, the Killer grabs a glass unicorn and stabs Barb repeatedly with her screams being drowned out by the carolers' singing. Phyllis checks on Barb and, as she enters the room, the killer closes the door and murders her.
Jess gets another obscene phone call. After that, the police call her and tell her that the calls are coming from the inside of the house and to get out. She arms herself with a fireplace poker and goes upstairs to get Barb and Phyllis. Upstairs she opens the door and sees their dead bodies. She sees the Killer's eye through the door, she closes it on him and runs to the door which is locked. She gets chased by the Killer with a notable shot of the Killer grabbing Jess' hair. She manages to escape and hides in the basement. She then sees Peter who breaks through the basement window. Jess now believes that Peter is the killer. He slowly approaches, asking if she is okay while she grips the fireplace poker. Outside, the police arrive and hear a loud scream. When they enter the basement, Jess is seen alive and stunned with a bloodied Peter laying against her. Jess has killed Peter with the fireplace poker.
Jess is sedated and left in a bed upstairs. The police, confident the Killer was Peter, leave the house as Clare's father faints from the enormity of the situation (and the fact that Clare has still not been found). As Jess sleeps alone, the camera pans slowly down the hall and upstairs to the trapdoor of the attic, where we see it open slightly. Inside the attic, the two bodies of Ms. Mac and Clare remain undiscovered. We discover the Killer is still alive, and is not Peter, and says "Agnes, it's me, Billy." There is an abrupt cut to the outside of the house, where a lone police officer stands guard on the front porch. The camera pans back and we see Clare, who's face is covered in plastic, sitting in a rocking chair right in front of the attic window. As the credits roll, the phone begins to ring.
Though John Carpenter's Halloween (1978) is generally credited with popularizing the main motifs of the contemporary slasher film genre, many genre aficionados contend that Black Christmas invented many of them four years earlier. For example, the film features shots from the perspective of the killer, replete with muffled breathing noises. Also, like Halloween, it is centered around a holiday.
Upon its original release, the film did well in comparison to its budget, grossing $4,053,000 in the USA alone. Critics' reviews were mixed -- for example, Variety felt the film was heavily cliched and that "Black Christmas, a bloody, senseless kill-for-kicks feature, exploits unnecessary violence in a university sorority house operated by an implausibly alcoholic ex-hoofer. Its slow-paced, murky tale involves an obscene telephone caller who apparently delights in killing the girls off one by one, even the hapless house-mother. The film has however, become a cult classic in the years since its release and often a perverse staple of Horror channels throughout the Christmas season.
The Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Wash., Doug Clark column: Doug Clark: Raise a glass because these guys are toast.
Dec 31, 2006; Byline: Doug Clark Dec. 31--Greetings and salivations, my gleeful monkeys. Today, we salute the area's most memorable dubious...