Director: Bob Clark
Stars: Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder, John Saxon
Just to be clear: We are not referring to the 2006 remake starring Michelle Trachtenberg, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Lacey Chabert. No, no, no. The Black Christmas we're talking about is the 1974 original, which finds a handful of college co-eds being stalked in their very own sorority house as they prepare to depart for Christmas break.
Often cited as one cinema's first slasher films, Black Christmas is a yuletide take on "The Babysitter and the Man Upstairs" urban legend, which inspired both Halloween and When a Stranger Calls in the latter part of the decade. Exploitative in the way that only a '70s movie can be, the tension begins with a series of threatening phone calls being placed from a deranged man who is hiding out in the attic that quickly escalate to cold-blooded murder, with sorority sisters being knocked off left and right.
Truth be told, there's no real reason for the film to be set at Christmas. But we're thankful it was, as it allowed director Bob Clark-who would make holiday movie history again in 1983 with A Christmas Story (yep, the same guy directed both movies)-to put a grisly spin on chaste traditions, like the Christmas carolers who drown out the sound of Barb (Margot Kidder) being stabbed to death with a tree ornament. —JW