Black Christmas

Black Christmas

4.4 10
Director: Bob Clark

Cast: Bob Clark, Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder

     
 

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Although this Canadian production saw its widest U.S. cable TV distribution in the early '80s (primarily under the title Stranger in the House) to capitalize on the phenomenal success of Halloween and its offspring, this effective suspense-thriller actually predates John Carpenter's film by four years. The story involves a dangerous psychopath hiding outSee more details below

Overview

Although this Canadian production saw its widest U.S. cable TV distribution in the early '80s (primarily under the title Stranger in the House) to capitalize on the phenomenal success of Halloween and its offspring, this effective suspense-thriller actually predates John Carpenter's film by four years. The story involves a dangerous psychopath hiding out in the attic of a sorority house who torments a small group of pretty young sisters (including Olivia Hussey and Margot Kidder) who are staying behind over Christmas break. His tactics range from making obscene phone calls from their house-mother's phone, to stalking the terrified boarders with sharp objects and murderous intent. Director Bob Clark, who mistook dreariness for tension in his previous horror effort Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things! (1972), here demonstrates a tight, aggressive style that generates some very original shocks -- particularly the surprise ending -- which clearly influenced dozens of similarly-themed slasher films to follow.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Jeremy Wheeler
Often recognized as the first modern slasher film (whose title could arguably go to Mario Bava's Bay of Blood), Bob Clark's seminal horror classic Black Christmas is a chilling tale that ranks up there with the best of the genre, even if it's not as well known as its contemporaries. With genuine characters that defy latter-day splatter stereotypes and a risqué abortion subplot added into the mix, the film has a realistic feel that most terror flicks tend to ignore (or do very badly). By deftly utilizing sound and the first-person perspective (predating Michael Myers by four years), director Clark manages to bring the audience into the sick mind of the madman resulting in one of the creepiest maniacs in screen history. Humor is also a key ingredient in the story, as Clark (future genius of Porky's and the holiday classic A Christmas Story) adds enough laughs and smirks to balance out the drama and extreme scares. Margot Kidder has a blast as Barb, a constantly drunk college student who could easily be the focus of the story, though that pleasure belongs to Franco Zeffirelli's Juliet, Olivia Hussey. While her accent might be a tad grating at times, Hussey makes a fine lead, with her tense phone calls with the killer being the highlights. The backbone of the film, however, rests mostly on the supporting players, even if they don't have the most screen time. First and foremost, Marion Waldman is a hoot as Mrs. Mack -- the booze-guzzling head dorm lady. Almost funnier is Doug McGrath as the bumbling cop Nash, whose run-in with Kidder and scenes with genre-fave John Saxon are classic, to say the least. Also noteworthy is an appearance from 2001's Keir Dullea as Hussey's pseudo-crazy boyfriend and a very underrated performance by James Edmond, who brings a welcomed human element to the film as the grieving father of the first victim. Skillfully directed and stylishly executed, Black Christmas is one underappreciated classic sure to get under your skin and stay there long after the lights come up. A sequel taking place on Halloween night was once planned -- but a smash hit from a young director by the name of John Carpenter (coincidentally using the same premise and style -- no offense John) squashed those plans, changing the history of horror films forever.

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Product Details

Release Date:
11/11/2008
UPC:
0880934124252
Original Release:
1974
Rating:
R
Source:
Somerville House
Time:
1:38:00
Sales rank:
20,955

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Olivia Hussey Jessica Bradford
Keir Dullea Peter Smythe
Margot Kidder Barbie Coard
Andrea Martin Phyllis Carlson
John Saxon Lieutenant Kenneth Fuller
Marion Waldman Mrs. Mac
Doug McGrath Sgt. Nash
Michael Rapaport Patrick
Les Carlson Graham
Martha Gibson Mrs. Quaife
Robert Warner Doctor
Jack Van Evera Search Party
Les Rubie Search Party
Marcia Diamond Woman
Robert Hawkins Wes
David Clement Cogan
John Stoneham Cop
Tom Foreman Cop
Art Hindle Chris
Lynne Griffin Claire Harrison
James Edmond Mr. Harrison

Technical Credits
Bob Clark Director,Producer
Gerry Arbeid Co-producer
Karen Bromley Art Director
Stan Cole Editor
Roy Moore Screenwriter
Reginald Morris Cinematographer
Findlay Quinn Executive Producer
Richard Schouten Associate Producer
Carl Zittrer Score Composer

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Scene Index

Digitally re-mastered anamorphic video & 5.1 surround stereo audio; Two original scenes with a new vocal soundtrack; "The 12 Days of Black Christmas," a documentary featuring current interviews with Art Hindle, Doug McGrath & Lynn Griffin among others; Separate interview segments with Olivia Hussey and Margot Kidder; Midnight screening Q&A session with John Saxon, Bob Clark & Carl Zittrer; Animated menus

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