Black Christmas (1974)
Nine years before he made A Christmas Story, Bob Clark directed another, darker holiday tale: Black Christmas. The film about sorority girls tormented and murdered by an unseen killer doesn’t give you the same warm fuzzy feeling you likely get watching Ralphie’s quest for a Red Rider BB gun. But horror aficionado's look back fondly on this film that helped create the slasher subgenre.
Even without Bette Davis, who was offered the role of Mrs. Mac but turned it down, Black Christmas can claim a stellar cast with Olivia Hussey (who starred in Franco Zeffirelli’s Best Picture winner, Romeo and Juliet), 2001: A Space Odyssey’s Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder (four years pre-Lois Lane), and John Saxon, who would go on to be a slasher genre staple.
Plus, a tight screenplay based on the baby sitter urban legend (“The calls are coming from inside the house!”), as well as Carl Zitter’s moody score, make Black Christmas one of the finest and most influential horror pictures ever made, on par with slasher forerunners Peeping Tom and Psycho.
Four years after Black Christmas, John Carpenter would perfect the subgenre with his own holiday-inspired slasher masterpiece, Halloween.