Black Christmas is a 1974 independent Canadian horror film directed by Bob Clark and written by A. Roy Moore. It stars Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder, Andrea Martin, Marian Waldman and John Saxon.
The story follows college students who must face a deranged serial killer lurking in their sorority house. It was inspired by the urban legend of "The Babysitter and the Man Upstairs", but was also largely based on a series of murders that took place in Quebec, Canada around Christmas time.
The film is generally considered to be one of the first slasher films.
A remake of the same name, produced by Clark, was released on 25 December 2006.
|Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about|
the entire movie.
A disoriented man climbs up into the attic of a sorority house while the occupants hold a Christmas party. Jess Bradford (Olivia Hussey) receives an obscene phone call from "the moaner," a man who has recently been calling the house. After sorority friend Barb Coard (Margot Kidder) provokes the caller, he replies, "I'm going to kill you," then hangs up.
Claire Harrison (Lynne Griffin) is offended by Barb and goes upstairs to finish packing for her trip home. She hears Claude the cat's cries and goes to investigate. Clare is attacked and asphyxiated with plastic sheeting over her head. Her body is taken to the attic, where the killer places her in a rocking chair next to the window and puts a doll in her lap.
The next day, Claire's father arrives to take her home for the holidays. When she is not at their appointed meeting place, he goes to the sorority house.
Jess meets her boyfriend, Peter Smythe (Keir Dullea), a neurotic aspiring pianist, to inform him that she is pregnant and wants to have an abortion. Peter is upset and orders her to discuss the situation with him more later.
Mr. Harrison and sorority sisters Barb and Phyllis "Phyl" Carlson (Andrea Martin) go to the police to report Claire's disappearance. Sgt. Nash dismisses the report and says that Claire is probably with a lover. Claire's boyfriend, Chris (Art Hindle), is informed by Jess about about the disappearance and Sgt. Nash's unwillingness to help, they rush back to the police station to discuss it with Lt. Kenneth Fuller (John Saxon). A mother reports that her daughter, Janice, is missing as well.
That evening, Mr. Harrison, Chris, and the sorority sisters join a search party aiming to find Janice or Claire.
Back at the house, Mrs. Mac (Marian Waldman), the sorority's housemother, hears Claude's meows in the attic. There she discovers Claire's body, but the killer launches a crane hook and hangs Mrs. Mac.
After one search party finds Janice's dead body, Jess returns home and receives another obscene call. Jess phones the police. Peter arrives and argues with Jess about her planned abortion. He leaves after Lt. Fuller arrives to discuss the phone calls. A technician places a tap "bug tracer" onto the sorority house phone. An officer is also stationed outside the house.
Barb is sent to bed for being "too drunk." The killer appears in her room and stabs her to death with a unicorn ornament. Door-to-door Christmas carolers drown out the noise of the attack.
Jess receives another obscene call that quotes a part of the argument she had with Peter. She now suspects Peter of being the caller, but then she and Phyl conclude that it cannot be him, since Peter was present during one of the earlier calls. Phyl goes upstairs to bed, deciding to check on Barb first. The door suddenly shuts behind Phyl.
The calls continue to come in. Jess manages to keep the caller on the phone for a minute, allowing the police to trace it to inside the house (from Mrs. Mac's separate phone line). Jess is ordered to leave the house immediately. She puts down the phone and yells up to Barb and Phyl.
At the police station, Lt. Fuller is informed of the situation and leaves for the house. Jess arms herself with a fireplace poker and ventures upstairs, finding both Barb's and Phyl's dead bodies. The killer attacks Jess and chases her through the house before Jess locks herself in the basement. Peter appears outside a basement window, telling Jess he heard screaming. He breaks the glass and enters. Jess, believing him to be the attacker, backs into a corner as he approaches.
Lt. Fuller and the police arrive to find the officer stationed outside dead in his car. When they hear Jess scream, they rush inside and find Jess in the basement with Peter, whom she has bludgeoned to death in self-defense. Jess is sedated as Fuller and the officers discuss how Peter must have been the killer all along. They also discuss the fact that Clare's body still hasn't been found, revealing that they neglected to look in the attic.
The officers leave Jess to sleep in her bed, stating that a man will be right outside the front door. Once the house is quiet, the camera pans to the attic, with Clare's and Mrs. Mac's bodies still undisturbed and the killer descending the attic stairs. The camera pulls back to show the outside of the house. The telephone rings as the credits roll.
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Black Christmas was officially released on October 11, 1974, in Canada through Ambassador Film Distributors, and in the United States on December 20, 1974, through Warner Bros., where it grossed $4,053,000. It was released in October 1975 in New York City and Chicago, and previously played under the title Silent Night, Evil Night in Virginia in July 1975. and grossed over $4,053,00 internationally, managing to earn more than the film's budget of $620,000. When released in the UK, the BBFC had the word "cunt" removed, as well as several other crude and sexual references during the first obscene phone call.
Home media release
Two editions of the DVD release of the film have been specially designed. A bare-bones release was released on 6 November 2001. The release was followed by a collector's edition that was released on 3 December 2002, containing a making-of documentary, behind-the-scenes footage and more bonus content. Critical Mass and Alliance Atlantis released a special edition on 5 December 2006, before the theatrical release of the remake of the film on Christmas day, containing extra and similar bonus content to the previous collector's edition, including interviews with stars Olivia Hussey and Margot Kidder. A Blu-ray edition of the film was released on 11 November 2008.