Silent Night, Evil Night / Stranger in the House / Jessy - Die Treppe in den Tod
Bob Clark, Findlay Quinn (executive) for Film Funding of Canada, Vision IV, Canadian Film Development Corporation, Famous Players
directed by Bob Clark
starring Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder, John Saxon, Marian Waldman, Andrea Martin, James Edmond, Doug McGarth, Art Hindle, Lynne Griffin, Michael Rapport, Leslie Carlson, Martha Gibson, John Rutter, Robert Warner, Syd Brown, Jack Van Evera, Les Rubie, Marcia Diamond, Pam Barney, Robert Hawkins, David Clement, Julian Reed, Dave Mann, John Stoneham sr, Danny Gain, Tom Foreman
written by Roy Moore, music by Carl Zittrer
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A mysterious madman has hidden up in the attic of a girls' dorm and
treaqts one of its tenants, Jess (Olivia Hussey) to obscene phonecalls
before killing her friends one after the other and hiding their bodies in
the attic with him. Eventually, Jess informs the police led by Lt.Fuller
(John Saxon), but while the cops do everything to find her missing
friends, they fail to search the attic.
Jess tells her boyfriend Peter
(Keir Dullea) that shes pregnant from him but wants an abortion, which
totally throws him off-balance, so much so that she eventually suspects
him to be the killer.
Eventually, a tap is put on Jess's phone to find
out where the obscene phonecalls are coming from, and she is told to
remain inside the dorm at any cost - but then it's found out that the
calls are actually coming from inside the house, and when she tries to
leave, it already seems to late ... but Jess puts up a fight, and
eventually she kills an intruder she thinks to be the killer, who then
turns out to be Peter.
It's only when the police and ambulance have come
and gone, and the attic still hasn't been searched, that whoever it is
calls again ...
Margot Kidder plays Jess's constantly drunk friend and
is even more annoying than unual.
For some reason, this film is
regarded as a cult classic, and thought to be the first to incorporate the
slasher formula later popularized in the wake of John Carpenter's Halloween
- which is of course not true, at least one film, the little-known Teen-Age
Strangler from 9 years earlier has already all the
slasher-elements in the right places.
But enough hair-splitting, the
problem is that Black Christmas simply is not a very good movie,
its direction is very impersonal and lacks style and panache, its creation
of suspense is very conventional and not at all helped by the total lack
of atmosphere, the weird phonecalls that are supposed to be nerve-wrecking
are rather silly actually and one can't really figure why all the girls
get so frightened by them even before the murders occur, and the ending
leaves quite a lot to be desired. About the cast: John Saxon as cop gives
a solid if routine performance, but Olivia Hussey isn't really good, Keir
Dullea is a bit annoying and don't even get me started about Margot
Kidder, who really sinks her role.
In all, I haven't got the slightest
idea why anyone even remembers this film much, and am at a total loss why
it's so fondly remembered, even.