Black Christmas. 1974. Canada. Directed by Bob Clark. Written by A. Roy Moore. With Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder, John Saxon. DCP courtesy American Genre Film Archive. 98 min.
Who is Billy, and what have they done to the baby? Based on a real series of murders in Quebec and the 1960s urban legend about a babysitter and a man upstairs, Black Christmas bridges the gap between Italian giallo and the American slasher genre. From the opening tracking shot establishing the killer’s POV to the external threat thrust upon a house full of young women, the influence of Black Christmas can be seen in nearly all slasher films that came after. Tension builds inexorably from the onset of unsettling prank phone calls to the disappearance of sorority sisters to the fraught police quest for the killer. The film also hinges on two issues that remain very relevant today: abortion and the function of the police. Black Christmas has twists and turns, blood and babes, and a good dash of Bob Clark humor.