MOVIEmeter
SEE RANK
Down 630 this week

Black Christmas (1974)

R  |   |  Horror, Thriller  |  20 December 1974 (USA)
7.3
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.3/10 from 19,850 users  
Reviews: 334 user | 193 critic

A sorority house is terrorized by a stranger who makes frightening phone calls and then murders the sorority sisters during Christmas break.

Director:

Writer:

(screenplay)
0Check in
0Share...

On Disc

at Amazon

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 25 titles
created 01 Apr 2011
 
a list of 40 titles
created 17 Jul 2013
 
a list of 25 titles
created 10 months ago
 
a list of 23 titles
created 8 months ago
 
a list of 27 titles
created 7 months ago
 

Related Items

Search for "Black Christmas" on Amazon.com

Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

Title: Black Christmas (1974)

Black Christmas (1974) on IMDb 7.3/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Black Christmas.

User Polls

2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A group of auditioned stage actors rehearse for an upcoming musical production. While locking themselves in the theater for rehearsal, not knowing that an escaped psychopath sneaked into the theater with them.

Director: Michele Soavi
Stars: David Brandon, Barbara Cupisti, Domenico Fiore
Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Angela Baker, a traumatized and very shy young girl, is sent to summer camp with her cousin. Shortly after her arrival, anyone with sinister or less than honorable intentions gets their comeuppance.

Director: Robert Hiltzik
Stars: Felissa Rose, Jonathan Tiersten, Karen Fields
Horror | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A decades old folk tale surrounding a deranged murderer killing those who celebrate Valentine's Day, turns out to be true to legend when a group defies the killer's order and people start turning up dead.

Director: George Mihalka
Stars: Paul Kelman, Lori Hallier, Neil Affleck
The Burning (1981)
Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

A former summer camp caretaker, horribly burned from a prank gone wrong, lurks around an upstate New York summer camp bent on killing the teenagers responsible for his disfigurement.

Director: Tony Maylam
Stars: Brian Matthews, Leah Ayres, Brian Backer
Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

After his parents are murdered, a young tormented teenager goes on a murderous rampage dressed as Santa, due to his stay at an orphanage where he was abused by the Mother Superior.

Director: Charles E. Sellier Jr.
Stars: Lilyan Chauvin, Gilmer McCormick, Toni Nero
The Prowler (1981)
Horror | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A masked killer, wearing World War II U.S. Army fatigues, stalks a small New Jersey town bent on reliving a 35-year-old double murder by focusing on a group of college kids holding an annual Spring Dance.

Director: Joseph Zito
Stars: Vicky Dawson, Christopher Goutman, Lawrence Tierney
Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A man staying at a secluded historical mansion finds himself being haunted by the presence of a spectre.

Director: Peter Medak
Stars: George C. Scott, Trish Van Devere, Melvyn Douglas
The Haunting (1963)
Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A scientist doing research on the paranormal invites two women to a haunted mansion. One of the participants soon starts losing her mind.

Director: Robert Wise
Stars: Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson
Suspiria (1977)
Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A newcomer to a fancy ballet academy gradually comes to realize that the school is a front for something far more sinister and supernatural amidst a series of grisly murders.

Director: Dario Argento
Stars: Jessica Harper, Stefania Casini, Flavio Bucci
Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A psychopathic killer terrorizes a babysitter, then returns seven years later to menace her again.

Director: Fred Walton
Stars: Carol Kane, Charles Durning, Rutanya Alda
Comedy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

The Basketball team is having a slumber party, but people soon start turning up dead.

Director: Amy Holden Jones
Stars: Michelle Michaels, Robin Stille, Michael Villella
Horror | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

After a seemingly innocent prank goes horribly wrong, a group of sorority sisters are stalked and murdered one by one in their sorority house while throwing a party to celebrate their graduation.

Director: Mark Rosman
Stars: Kate McNeil, Eileen Davidson, Janis Ward
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Peter
...
...
Marian Waldman ...
...
Phyl
James Edmond ...
...
Sargeant Nash (as Douglas McGrath)
...
...
Michael Rapport ...
Patrick
Leslie Carlson ...
Graham (as Les Carlson)
Martha Gibson ...
Mrs. Quaife
John Rutter ...
Laughing Detective
Robert Warner ...
Doctor
Edit

Storyline

It's time for Christmas break, and the sorority sisters make plans for the holiday, but the strange anonymous phone calls are beginning to put them on edge. When Clare disappears, they contact the police, who don't express much concern. Meanwhile Jess is planning to get an abortion, but boyfriend Peter is very much against it. The police finally begin to get concerned when a 13-year-old girl is found dead in the park. They set up a wiretap to the sorority house, but will they be in time to prevent a sorority girl attrition problem? Written by Ed Sutton <esutton@mindspring.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The sort of Christmas you don't dream of. See more »

Genres:

Horror | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

20 December 1974 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Black Christmas  »

Box Office

Budget:

CAD 686,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The role of Mrs. Mac was offered to Bette Davis See more »

Goofs

When Claire enters the closet to check Claud the cat the camera points to Claire and you can see moving in the background to her right a crew member and cord. See more »

Quotes

The Killer: [referring to her potential abortion] Just like having a wart removed.
Jessica Bradford: Oh my God!
See more »

Crazy Credits

A telephone is continously ringing throughout the final credits. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Dirties (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

Jingle Bells
Jingle Bells and Choral Effects performed by the Counterpoint Singers
Conducted by Paul Feheley
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Perhaps one of the most underrated films in Cinema history
22 February 2004 | by (London) – See all my reviews

Long before Jamie Blanks turned popular urban legends into a theme for his routine slasher franchise, director Bob Clark took one of the most vigorously touted of those fables and created a genre staple that would become the forerunner of the stalk and slash cycle. Comparisons can obviously be drawn between this and Halloween, including notorious but unconfirmed reports that Carpenter's film was in fact based upon an un-produced concept that Clark had earlier initiated as a sequel to this 1974 sleeper. Both efforts certainly have a lot in common with one another; including two excellent steady-cam openings - putting the viewer in the killer's shoes as he enters his 'soon to be' scene of a crime - that are almost interchangeable. On the 'making of' featurette for the 25th anniversary of Halloween, perhaps one commentator is fairly unjust when he states that it was that movie that started the excessive use of point of view shots that are so often imitated in horror cinema ever since. Black Christmas was equally as effective with its application of first person cinematography, a feat that John Carpenter clearly recognised before incorporating and perhaps improving upon it for his further acknowledged masterpiece.

The story concerns a group of sorority sisters that are preparing for their Christmas celebrations in a remote house. They have been receiving bizarre and threatening calls from what sounds like a group of insane people, although no one takes them seriously at first, believing that they're just a typical prank from a few of the local town boys. However fears are ignited when one of the students, Claire (Lynne Griffin), doesn't arrive to meet her father on time and is reported missing. Later a child is found butchered in the park, whilst all the while the Looney continues his demented ringing and terrorising the young women. Before long Lieutenant Fuller (John Saxon) realises that there may be a link in the occurrences and asks Jess (Olivia Hussey) to remain close to her phone so that he can trace the line when the lunatic next rings. But will there be anyone left alive when that happens?

Although this movie is neither graphic, gratuitous nor particularly unpleasant by today's standards, it remains one of the most disturbing and chilling 'slasher' movies ever made. Perhaps as mysteriously alluring as the exploits of Michael Myers and certainly far more alarming than any of the endless Friday the 13ths could ever hope to be. The killer creates the fear himself, but not in the typical methods that have become somewhat old-hat in more recent efforts. This assassin doesn't wear a mask, probably doesn't possess any super-human attributes and may only be threatening towards the female of our species. But his enigmatic ranting and crazy excessive skips between multiple personalities that are portrayed superbly over phone calls, which are all but too short; effortlessly allow him to become one of the creepiest wackos ever set to celluloid. Never has a telephone been implemented as a tool for creating fear so efficiently, there's something really unsettling as this Jekyl and Perhaps ten Mr. Hydes argues potently with himself. He changes his pitch from that of a high female to a deep and aggressive male and then back again, in a manner of pure and unadulterated insanity that really sticks in your throat. He perhaps reaches his most bloodcurdling moment when he drops all the wacky personas to adopt a civil yet curt voice and mutter once; `I'm going to kill you'. Proving to be the one and only direct threat that he makes in the whole movie.

Where as Michael Myers' success was brought about by the mystery that surrounded the little that we knew of the true motivations of his character, a similar method has been used here. We never actually see who's terrorising these girls and we are never given a reason for his dementia. He often refers to himself as 'Billy' or 'Agatha' in his one sided conversations, but we never learn of the events that made him spiral into such mindlessness. In a movie like Scream (aka The Outing - not Wes Craven's) this just feels like lazy and incompetent filmmaking, however Bob Clark puts it across in a manner that makes you want to learn and know more and he teases you with revealing that you never will. His talents as a director certainly reached their peak with Black Christmas. Helped excessively by some great cinematography and neatly planned lighting effects that often evade the more recent slasher movies, Clark proved himself as a great filmmaker that would have his inspiration cemented over the years that followed. He produced fairly original ways to keep the killer obscured from view, whilst not forgetting the fundamental silhouette and shadow play. If you do predict the twists in the plot, then it's only because they have been carbonated so many times since this hit the shelves, that they now feel second nature to any horror fan. It's good to remember that this was one of the first to use these elements and you must also note how perfectly this holds up against the less than impressive attempts that have been released up to three decades after.

Some brilliant supporting actors whom themselves would make their own slight impressions on the genre (Margot Kidder: The Clown at Midnight, Lynne Griffin: Curtains and John Saxon: Nightmare Beach and The Babydoll Murders) are sadly let down by a weak lead in Olivia Hussey. She's certainly not terrible, but at times her performance was fairly improbable when she could have found chances to shine. Kudos however to the actor(s) that performed the terrorising calls, I don't think titans like Brando or Nicholson could have played them any better! Credit has to be given to whoever helmed that crazy dialogue, for without it, the movie certainly would not have been so fearfully memorable! Perhaps a little further explanation on Peter's (Keir dullea) exact involvement may have helped make the end a little clearer, admittedly I was a little confused. Although I must confess that I can't be sure if that was my fault for not watching properly (it was late at night) or it was crafted deliberately to help cloud the mystery? But those gripes are hardly damaging and mainly I really enjoyed Black Christmas.

The slasher genre has gained a reputation over the years for being somewhat over populated by incompetent/amateur filmmakers. But efforts like this, Halloween and The House on Sorority row prove that the category is a necessary ingredient to cinema history when it's handled properly; often able to generate superb and noteworthy results that rank up with any of horror's acclaimed pieces from the past. This has recently been re-released on DVD with minimal extras but maximum value for money and really does warrant a purchase. There's really not a lot more to be said to convince you, this is a true cult-classic and your collection is poorer without a copy. As stylish as the best Giallos and as disturbing as Friedkin's Exorcist, this is certainly worthy to hold its renowned status for years to come. Maybe next time you are bothered by a crank caller, you'll be a little more cautious as to how you handle the situation.


29 of 37 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Weird Idea For Who Billy Is michaelbull31
IMO The Ambiguous Ending Adds to This Movie's Cult Status ret_cpo
Jess was horrible horneddemon
Do you think Billy killed Jess? BattleRoyale96
FUN LITTLE THRILLER...BUT NOT 'HALLOWEEN!!' BogieandBacallfan
US Theatrical Releases: Differences between 'R' and 'PG' Versions tabbycat
Discuss Black Christmas (1974) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?