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TopBilled

BLACK CHRISTMAS (1974)

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Did anyone watch this film when it aired on TCM a few days ago? A friend of mine told me not to miss it, and I am glad I recorded it.

 

It has the right blend of character development, creepy atmosphere and suspense. Plus, what a great group of actors! Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea (very underrated in my opinion), Margot Kidder and John Saxon star. The part of the house mother was written with Bette Davis in mind, but her asking price was too steep.

 

Supposedly, this is actor Steve Martin's favorite film. He claims to have seen it 25 times.

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Yes, what a creepy phone voice...especially when it goes all Norman Bates and he speaks in his mother's voice. Excellent stuff.

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AKA "Silent Night, Evil Night". Came out around the time of the Bundy murders. I still have the original poster with the B&W insert with the "Black Christmas" title. John

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This is one of my favorite films. A gang of us loved it so much, we followed it around from theater to theater, from drive-in to drive-in. Prior to its original release, there were ads in the entertainment section for it, that included a phone number. When you called it, you got that creepy voice on the other end, telling you about the film. Marian Waldman, as "Mrs. Mac" is one of my favorite characters in filmdom! "I didn't send my daughter here to be drinking and picking up boys. Tough ****!" I once was seated next to Keir Dullea at a dinner and, among other things like "did you really refuse to cut your hair to do Tony in WEST SIDE STORY?", I waxed poetic to him about this film!

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By the way, I know I've read, repeatedly, that the title of this film when released in the US was SILENT NIGHT, EVIL NIGHT, but it wasn't. At least not in Philadelphia. It was always BLACK CHRISTMAS. I never saw it under any other title, and like I said in my post, below, I saw it many times. I do know that it was listed in the TV Guide as STRANGER IN THE HOUSE, but was ultimately never shown.

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I think it's cool that the film was marketed with that phone number. Such a great anecdote. I love Keir Dullea. I watched him in DAVID AND LISA just the other day and was fascinated. But he's really creepy good in BLACK CHRISTMAS.

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My own thoughts on this classic slasher film:

 

When it comes down to it, most of the horror movies I watch are creepy at best, never really scary although I suppose there are those that manage to be disturbing or un-nerving. However you can easily stick this one in the "Really Freaky" cateogory, as the same guy who gave us the rather happy "A Christmas Story" later on made one mean and rather eerie horror movie in 1974. Striking first before "Halloween," which came out four years later, Clark's contribution to the slasher brand proves that despite the many cash grabs associated with the sub-genre there are also movies that can be considered relatively good or great contributions to movies in general. If this movie doesn't scare you, then the film's tagline is right: "Your skin is on too tight."

 

Even in the age of cell phones, the movie's use of regular phone lines is very innventive and quite creepy thanks to "Billy's" nasty, frightening phone calls that can be best be described as a mixture of multiple personality disorder and un-printable dialogue. Just like "Halloween" the film's death count is quite low, but rather maximized to great effect, making the movie all the more scary. It also never really reveals the killer either, turning the movie into a mystery as well and only making the viewer wonder who is truly capable of these horrible and rehensible acts of violence.

 

Despite discussing the ending already with someone on RT, I'm not completely sold on what the final shot really indicates, and if the movie ever truly gives as any answers. That is rather irrelevent except for the sake of curiosity anyways, and the final moments result in a truly great last act. Sure this movie does have its flaws (John Saxon isn't one of them-he sure appeared in a couple other horror movies), but you can't go wrong with a movie this raw and unflinching. Looking at his filmography, it seems that he made a handful of other horror movies, and I intend to explore them all. *92*

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>Dullea is good in this. He's also good in Bunny Lake is Missing.

 

I agree. He is equally good...and mad...in DE SADE.

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Those phone calls are what makes it so good. This is a case where the production code of old Hollywood needed to be abandoned in order to show us the truly creepy, sick mind of a villain. It makes the horror more real, the shock on the woman's face more authentic. Keir does a superb job.

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Keir is indeed excellent in this film and the perfect red herring. This has always been one of my favorite films. So creepy. I first saw it when I was pretty young but it always stayed with me. The ending is chilling.

 

 

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>So creepy. I first saw it when I was pretty young but it always stayed with me. The ending is chilling.

 

It does have one of the most memorable endings. And since there was no sequel, it is ambiguous yet very final.

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> {quote:title=TopBilled wrote:}{quote}

> > So creepy. I first saw it when I was pretty young but it always stayed with me. The ending is chilling.

> It does have one of the most memorable endings. And since there was no sequel, it is ambiguous yet very final.

It is indeed very final. The voices from the killer always gave me chills; so creepy. It truly is the perfect ending for this film. We don't have to see what happens, we know what's going to happen and it's chilling.

 

 

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Because I like Keir Dullea's performance so much in this film, I had to take a look at THE HAUNTING OF JULIA today. It's an instant Netflix selection. Again, it's the 1970s (a few years after BLACK CHRISTMAS); and again, it's a horror film made by a Canadian production company. He does not play the menacing bad guy this time around, but he's still creepy in a more subdued role. And his character's death scene is very spooky.

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This film originally titled "Silent Night, Evil Night". I have an original poster for this film with the separate overlay of "Black Christmas". Title was changed due to it's release near the Ted Bundy Sorority house murders. John

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If anyone is interested I'm selling a very rare Alamo Drafthouse Black Christmas poster in perfect condition signed by the artist. The artwork is very detailed and it comes shipped in a simple black frame. I'm also throwing in a sealed blu-ray of the original film.

 

Check out the listing before it's too late. One 1 day left to bid.

 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Black-Christmas-Screen-Printed-24-X-36-Poster-ALAMO-DRAFT-HOUSE-RARE-/261335153922?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3cd8c9fd02

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