Everybody here knows by now that I love horror.
But I also love Christmas!
Let’s take this chance, once again, to focus on some Christmas horror. (I know that I’ve written about one of these before, , but it just makes such a perfect double feature with the other one that I can’t pass it up.)
BLACK CHRISTMAS (1974)
Written by Roy Moore
Directed by Bob Clark
Long before he was using the jolliest of holidays to torment children with runaway dogs, sadistic Santas and Scotty Schwartz, Bob Clark was using it to torment sorority girls with a killer on the phone who calls himself Billy.
During Christmas break, the girls typically go back home. A few of them, though, decide to stay behind. That means murder when “Billy” starts calling them with some of the creepiest phone calls you’ll ever hear. As the girls start to disappear, the police (led by John Saxon, of course) finally start to sort of take notice.
This is a classic slasher film from before the slasher craze really started in the late 70s with Halloween. It’s a treasure trove of stars, too: Olivia Hussey (Zeffereli’s Romeo & Juliet), Andrea Martin (SCTV), Keir Dullea (2001: A Space Odyssey) and Margot Kidder (if you don’t know what she’s famous for, you don’t deserve to be on a site called Forces Of Geek) are among the hapless victims.
I won’t spend too much time on this one partly because I’ve written about it before and partly because it’s one a LOT of people have seen. It’s a classic. If you haven’t seen it, see it now.
Billy (played later by Robert Brian Wilson) sees his parents get killed by a drunken, violent Santa Claus. Ever since then, he’s had a perfectly rational fear of The Man With All The Toys. He and his little brother are sent to a Catholic orphanage and the Mother Superior (Lilyan Chauvin) is a rather abusive old nun. She just doesn’t understand that some fears can’t be gotten over by forcing a kid to sit on Santa’s lap.
After Billy grows up, he seems to be a pretty normal 18 year old kid. (I mean, besides the fact that he looks nearly 30.) He gets a job at a toy store with the help of the only nun who has stuck by him all these years, Sister Margaret (Gilmer McCormick). Unfortunately, the guy who is supposed to play Santa gets a little drunk and can’t make it. So, of course, Billy has to take his place.
Ya know, you might think that someone might tell their employer that they have an awful fear of Little St Nick and, therefore, shouldn’t dress as the man. But then there wouldn’t be murder and mayhem.
Silent Night, Deadly Night surely isn’t the best slasher movie out there. Not by a long shot. (The filmmakers couldn’t even be bothered to make sure that his little brother aged the same number of years as Billy did. He was a baby at the beginning and about six when Billy was 18.) But it’s got its fun moments and a killer that you actually kinda feel sorry for! I mean, this guy saw his parents get murdered and has been traumatized by it ever since! This isn’t Michael Myers, who is just Evil. Billy is your every day, good-looking teenager. When he snaps, it kinda hurts a little.
But, snap he does. And blood flows. Bells are jingled.
Director Sellier started out his career creating Grizzly Adams and ended it producing a bunch of Christian “miracle” documentaries. I wonder if he felt bad about his Christmas film that was banned in so many cities because of its portrayal of Santa and the Catholic church.
Nah. He wanted to make money.