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Black Christmas (1974)

Bob Clark’s imaginatively nasty low-budget Canadian slasher traps a group of college students in the snow-dusted sorority house of Sigma Lamba Chi, where they are terrorised by an obscene phone caller before being bumped off one by one by a psychopath hiding in their attic.

Not just a seminal Christmas horror film but also one of the key prototypes for the slew of imitative slashers that would follow in its wake, Black Christmas even predates John Carpenter’s masterful Halloween (1978) by some four years.

Brilliantly utilising a series of alternating camera perspectives as the “eyes” of his heavy-breathing killer – including an opening POV sequence soon to be borrowed by Carpenter in the aforementioned, and Brian De Palma for his film-within-a-film sequence in Blow Out (1980) – Bob Clark would later go on to helm much more innocent (but equally acclaimed) festive fare with A Christmas Story (1983).

Margot Kidder is a blast as a boozed-up foul-mouthed sorority girl named Barb, B-movie stalwart John Saxon lends solid comic and dramatic support as a cop investigating the strange goings-on at the sorority house, and Marian Waldman scores cheap laughs with a Shelley Winters-type performance as the sorority’s lush housemother – but it’s the direction that most impresses in this quintessential festive shocker, something to which its awful 2006 remake barely even aspires.

Olivia Hussey
Keir Dullea
Margot Kidder
Mrs Mac
Marian Waldman
Andrea Martin
Art Hindle
Mr Harrison
James Edmond
Clare Harrison
Lynne Griffin
Sgt Nash
Douglas Mcgrath
Michael Rapport
Lt Fuller
John Saxon
Les Carlson
Mrs Quaife
Martha Gibson
Robert Warner
Pam Barney
Robert Hawkins
David Clement
Julian Reed

Bob Clark