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Black Christmas

(Silent Night, Evil Night/Stranger in the House)

Year: 1974
Language: English
Format: 35mm Colour
Runtime: 98 min
Director: Bob Clark
Executive Producer: Findlay Quinn
Writer: Roy Moore
Cinematographer: Reginald Morris
Editor: Stan Cole
Sound: Kenneth Heeley-Ray, Rod Haykin
Music: Carl Zittrer
Cast: Keir Dullea, Olivia Hussey, Marian Waldman, Andrea Martin, Margot Kidder, John Saxon
Production Company: August Film Production Ltd., Vision IV Productions, Film Funding Corporation

As the holiday season approaches, a college sorority house is terrorized by a psychopathic killer. One by one the residents are brutally slain by a heavy-breathing maniac armed with plastic wrap and some serious childhood traumas. Meanwhile, having discovered she’s pregnant, sorority sister Jess (Olivia Hussey) is confused and threatened by her emotionally unstable boyfriend (Keir Dullea), who refuses to let her get an abortion.

An abysmal mix of foul-mouthed verbal attacks, awkwardly placed humour and clumsy, tongue-in-cheek direction, the film is most notable as a somewhat less graphic precursor to the impending run of slasher films in the late seventies and early eighties. It essentially establishes the formula – the psychotic mystery man stalking nubile co-eds, the prowling, subjective camera, the uncertain death of the killer at the end – followed by virtually ever slasher film that followed, most notably Halloween (1978), Friday the 13th (1980) and A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984).

Black Christmas enjoyed a successful box-office run and opened the door for director Bob Clark to work with bigger stars and a bigger budget with Murder by Decree (1979). A minor cult classic, Black Christmas was released in a remastered DVD format in 2003 and is currently being remade by a major Hollywood studio. Margot Kidder received a Canadian Film Award for her performance as the foul-mouthed and ill-fated Barbie.

By: Andrew McIntosh

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