A crazed lunatic moves into the attic of an old sorority house and begins to terrorize the girls inside.
Director: Bob Clark
Writer: Roy Moore
Starring: Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder, John Saxon, Andrea Martin, Art Hindle
Also known as Silent Night, Evil Night in the USA
The original Black Christmas is a great, low-budget horror film, done by Bob Clark. Yup, that’s right, the man who gave us one of the great sentimental Christmas films, A Christmas Story, also gave us one of the great horror Christmas films. (Incidentally he also directed the sex-comedy Porky’s, which up until 2006 held the record as highest grossing Canadian film. Not something us Canadians are particularly proud of, and we did all celebrate a little when it was beaten by a different film you’ve never heard of).
Black Christmas shows you what you can do with no money, but a creepy set, great actors and a sense of style. It’s a who-dunnit and the who doesn’t particularly matter anyway. It’s a film drenched in atmosphere; dark, dirty spaces fill up every scene, even the ones celebrating Christmas. For a film with little actual violence, it certainly does convey violence. And creepiness. The set alone is worth watching for the length of the film. If ever there was a case where the set defined the film, this is it. Add to that the grainy, grittiness of Canadian films in the 70s and you have something wonderful to watch. They even manage to throw in a brief hockey scene, just to appeal to the hometown crowd no doubt.
While the movie didn’t find a huge audience when it first came out, or much critical love, the film went on to genuine cult status. It’s been said to have an influence on the makers of slasher films that followed it (and there were many), and star Olivia Hussey relays a story where comedian and musician Steve Martin told her it was one of his favourite movies.
Now, Christmas slashers aren’t for everyone, I grant you, not something most families will put on the TV and gather round come the holidays, but if you’re looking for dark, twisted independent Christmas horror, there aren’t many that hold a candle to the original Black Christmas.