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Black Christmas (1974)
Halloween gets all the credit. It may have set open the floodgates for the 80s slasher frenzy but Black Christmas was there first, folks. It came a full five years before John Carpenter’s classic. Directed by Bob Clark, who provided us with that other seasonal staple, A Christmas Story, this Canadian shocker serves us up slow burn suspense that builds to an almost unbearable final crescendo and leaves us with a brilliant open ending. It features Margot Kidder as a foul mouthed alcoholic sorority sister, Olivia Hussey as our dewdrop heroine, Keir Dullea as her super intense boyfriend and John Saxon as the cop on the other end. Mrs. Mac, played by Marian Waldman is a glorious creation and the film would not be the same without her presence. Don’t judge this one based on the lousy remake. The calls the killer places to the girls are in my opinion the best obscene rants ever put to film. (When A Stranger Calls released the same year as Halloween is also heavily indebted to Black Christmas.) The film greatly benefits from the identity of the killer never being revealed and his motives never being explained. Truly a gift that keeps on giving and absolutely essential Christmas time viewing. A-