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Black Christmas

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Zodiac
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« on: December 22, 2007, 08:43:10 pm »


Black Christmas is a 1974 Canadian horror film, directed by Bob Clark, which has a very large cult following. Black Christmas stars Olivia Hussey as a young college student who must deal with a deranged killer lurking in her sorority house. Black Christmas is widely-considered a horror classic. It also features Margot Kidder and Andrea Martin, before either had gained fame in the United States, John Saxon and Keir Dullea round out the cast. The film makes use of dark corners, off-kilter camera angles, and sparingly uses a score by Carl Zittrer to create suspense. It is also marketed with the tagline "If this movie doesn't make your skin crawl... It's on too tight!"
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Zodiac
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« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2007, 08:45:22 pm »

The film opens at night with a small party occurring in a sorority house for a private school. A man is shown entering the house through the open attic window. We are introduced to all of the girls in the sorority house, the main ones being Jessica Bradford, the heroine of the film, Barbara Coard, a drunken loud mouth, and Phyllis Carlson, Jessica's friend and the peace keeper of the group. The girls have been receiving mysterious phonecalls from someone they call "The Moaner". The calls start out sexual in nature, but they gradually grow more macabre, with the man on the other end saying strange things in different voices.

The shyest sorority girl, Clare Harrison, goes upstairs to pack, and when she goes into the closet, the man dives out and wraps a plastic bag around her head, asphyxiating her. He then drags her into the attic, and puts her in a rocking chair by the window. The next day, Clare's father (James Edmond) comes to pick her up, but nobody knows where she is. It becomes a mystery as the police search for the missing Clare. Meanwhile, Mrs. MacHenry, the house mother, stumbles upon the killer while searching for her cat in the attic and gets a crane hook in the face.

Meanwhile, Jessica admits to her boyfriend Peter Smythe that she is pregnant, but she's having an abortion. He begins to behave strangely, and shows off some anger problems. As Barbara and Phyllis are murdered by the killer, Jessica gets another call. The police trace the call and realize that they are coming from in the house (the telephone in Mrs. MacHenry's room) and warn Jessica to leave the house immediately and wait for them outside. Instead of going out, Jessica goes upstairs with a fireplace poker and discovers Barb's and Phyllis's bodies both lying on Barb's bed. Then, Jessica is chased by the killer. She manages to escape and hide in the basement. There she runs into Peter, who she now believes is the killer. He approaches her to talk, but Jessica kills him with the poker.

The police arrive and feel the case is closed, and leave the house, leaving Jessica alone to sleep off the excitement. Then as the camera shows the house we get to see the attic one last time and see that the two dead bodies of Mrs. Mac and Claire have not been discovered. The killer's name is finally revealed when we hear him say "Agnes, it's me, Billy." As the credits begin to roll, we hear the phone ring once again, getting louder and louder as they progress.

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Zodiac
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« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2007, 08:50:48 pm »

Working from a budget of $620,000 and an eight week shooting schedule, the film was shot in 35mm format utilizing Panavision cameras and lenses in and around Toronto during the winter of 1974. Annesley Hall National Historic Site was used for some scenes. When originally released in the United States, Warner Bros., fearing that audiences might confuse it for a blaxploitation movie, changed the title to Silent Night, Evil Night. It performed poorly until its title was changed back to Black Christmas. It was later retitled Stranger in the House for television broadcast.

Though John Carpenter's Halloween (1978) is generally credited with popularizing the main motifs of the contemporary slasher film genre, many genre aficionados contend that Black Christmas invented many of them four years earlier. For example, the film features shots from the perspective of the killer, replete with muffled breathing noises. Also, like Halloween, it is centered around a holiday. The only difference is that Halloween is centered around Halloween, and Black Christmas is centered around Christmas.

Upon its original release, the film did well in comparison to its budget, grossing $4,053,000 in the USA alone. Critic's reviews were mixed, for example, Variety felt the film was heavily cliched and that "Black Christmas, a bloody, senseless kill-for-kicks feature, exploits unnecessary violence in a university sorority house operated by an implausibly alcoholic ex-hoofer. Its slow-paced, murky tale involves an obscene telephone caller who apparently delights in killing the girls off one by one, even the hapless house-mother."
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« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2007, 08:51:37 pm »

Eclectic DVD has released two editions of Black Christmas. The first was a bare-bones release that hit shelves on November 6, 2001. This was then followed by a collector's edition released on December 3, 2002, that featured a making-of documentary and two commentary tracks (some of the commentary material was obviously taken from interviews for the documentary), among other features. On December 5, 2006, Critical Mass released a new "special edition" disc that offers a featurette titled "The Twelve Days of Black Christmas" and two deleted sound scenes, in addition to interviews with Olivia Hussey and Margot Kidder and clips from a Q&A sessions at a midnight screening with the makers of Black Christmas.

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« Reply #4 on: December 22, 2007, 08:55:07 pm »

   First horror film to use the "the calls are coming from inside the house" plotline. Later used in When a Stranger Calls.
   John Saxon's scenes were filmed separately from the leads, yet they appear to be in the same room.
   Edmund O'Brien was originally supposed to play the character that Saxon played. According to the documentary feature On Screen (produced for the Canadian cable network Space), O'Brien was removed from the picture when he began showing signs of Alzheimer's disease; Saxon filmed his first scenes only two hours after arriving in Toronto.
   Originally scripted as The Babysitter, the title was changed to Stop Me, and eventually produced as Black Christmas.
   The original script was written by Canadian Roy Moore who had read about a similar story happening in major cities around the world in a 12 month period. This was never proven. Apparently the Westmount section of Montreal was the closest story to home.
   Director Bob Clark, in the On Screen documentary, claims that he came up with the basic idea of Halloween (including its title) as a hypothetical sequel to Black Christmas; he later gave the idea to John Carpenter.
   An episode of Men in Black: The Series, season 2's "The Black Christmas Syndrome", was named after the film.
   This film was #87 on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments for the scene with a dead girl sitting by a window.
   Contrary to previous information, Timothey Bond did not take part in the writing of the original script for The Babysitter.
   Black Christmas was also released under the titles: Silent Night, Evil Night and Stranger in the House.
   According to director Bob Clark, screen icon Bette Davis was offered the role of Mrs. Mac, the alcoholic, comic relief housemother (played in the film by veteran Canadian actress Marian Waldman).
   Actress Andrea Martin (who plays Phyliss) plays the Mrs. Mac housemother role in the 2006 remake of "Black Christmas".
   NBC was actually forced to pull Black Christmas during a prime time showing due to viewers calling in and complaining that it was "too scary
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