Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Friday, March 23, 2012


Olivia Hussey on the phone
BLACK CHRISTMAS (aka Silent Night, Evil Night; Stranger in the House/1974). Director: Bob Clark. Screenplay by Roy Moore.

A group of sorority girls getting ready for Christmas start disappearing and being murdered one by one. Olivia Hussey is the heroine, Jess, with her boyfriend played by Keir Dullea of 2001: A Space Odyssey. John Saxon is a cop, Art Hindle is another boyfriend, and Andrea Martin -- later a comedienne on Saturday Night Live -- plays another of the very likable students. Margot Kidder is an obnoxious drunk and Marian Waldman plays Mrs. Mac, the house mother who likes to tipple from a secret stash. Lynn Griffin is appealing as the first victim, Clare. Black Christmas isn't perfect, but it's suspenseful and creepy and well-acted by the entire cast, and unlike most future mad slasher films presents some dimensional characters as well -- you care about these young ladies when they get murdered. A bit with a caller on the phone and his location was later used in When a Stranger Calls. The film was remade in 2006 with Martin playing the den mother; the original is superior.

Verdict: Not a classic but not badly made and intelligent -- and ultimately depressing. ***.

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