Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Black Christmas (1974)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Black Christmas (1974)

In this independent, low-budget Canadian horror film - an exploitative cult horror/slasher that predated the similar Halloween (1978) by four years, it has been considered the forerunner of the modern slasher film. It was not cheap, but surprisingly well-made, and even included elements of humor and effective suspense. The film is not to be confused with the 2006 remake.

  • in the plot, an ill-fated houseful of sorority sisters from Pi Kappa Sig (at 6 Belmont Street) in the college campus town of Bedford were just about to leave for the Christmas holiday season. Some of the main female characters, with realistic and well-defined personalities in the sorority house, included:

Barb Coard (Margot Kidder)

Jessica "Jess" Bradford (Olivia Hussey)

Phyllis "Phyl" Carlson (Andrea Martin)
    • Barb Coard (pre-fame Margot Kidder), an excessive drinker, with a foul mouth and often caustically-rude, and on bad terms with her selfish mother (Barb made plans to go skiing with her sorority friends instead of visiting her home for the holidays)
    • Jessica "Jess" Bradford (Olivia Hussey), a sorority sister heroine, unexpectedly pregnant by her boyfriend Jess, and against his wishes was planning an abortion and a career
    • Phyllis "Phyl" Carlson (Andrea Martin)
  • a fourth important character was Peter Smythe (Keir Dullea), an aspiring concert pianist, and Jess' boyfriend who had impregnated her and was opposed to her plans for an abortion; he became a prime murder suspect, but seemed unhinged and unstable mostly due to his concerns about his future with Jess.
  • as the film opened during a Christmas party with carol singing, a heavily-breathing, deranged man (from his POV) was stalking around outside a sorority house before the individual climbed a trellis and entered into the sorority house's attic window. The shadowy man also descended through the attic's trap door and ladder to explore the upstairs 3rd floor area. He then proceeded to make a strange, and obscene phone call to the main phone in the sorority. The voice called them "Pigs" and threatened: "Let me lick it! Let me stick my tongue on it and lick it!...Let me lick your pretty piggy c---t...Suck on my juicy c--k!...I'll stick my tongue up your pretty p---y" and came to acquire the nickname "The Moaner." During the call, Barb took the phone and shouted back at the caller ("You f--king creep!"), and was told: "I'm going to kill you." [Note: Shortly later, Jessica addressed the caller as "Billy."]
  • actually things quickly did escalate to murder. One of the younger sorority sisters, Clare Harrison (Lynne Griffin), who became upset by the most recent call, decided to pack up early and leave the next morning for the holidays. In the scariest moment of the film, as she packed in her room, she was suffocated or asphyxiated with a plastic garment bag in her own room's closet, where the killer had been hiding. He then carried her corpse up into the attic and positioned it in a rocking chair by the window - keeping the plastic cleaning bag over her head. The killer sang: "Little baby Bunting, Daddy's gone a-huntin, Gone to fetch a rabbit skin, To wrap his baby Agnes in"; A baby doll was placed in Clare's lap and the psycho called her Agnes (the name of his sister?).

Dead Clare Positioned in a Rocking Chair in Attic

Clare with House Cat Claude In Her Lap Licking at Her

Clare With Baby Doll (Agnes?) In Her Lap
  • another phone call came in, and Jessica answered it. She kept saying it was a wrong number, and addressed the caller as "Billy" when the man kept asking: "Where did you put the baby?...Where did you put Agnes, Billy?...What your mother and I must know is…"
  • when Clare went missing the next day, a search was conducted that evening led by incompetent Sargeant Nash (Douglas McGrath) and Lieutenant Fuller (John Saxon), with some of the sorority girls and Clare's concerned father Mr. Harrison (James Edmond) participating, after pressure was put on the police at the station by Clare's insistent boyfriend Chris Hayden (Art Hindle). Chris believed that Clare's disappearance wasn't being taken seriously
  • during the search party for Clare, the next murder victim was the house mother Mrs. "Mac" MacHenry (Marian Waldman), a foul-mouth alcoholic (who hid bottles of alcohol everywhere in her apartment). After opening the attic door, the killer swung a curved crane hook into her neck. She was dragged up the trap door ladder into the attic by the impaling hook and killed (off-screen)
  • Jessica received another disturbing phone call - the killer Billy was begging: "Oh, help me! Please, stop me! Oh, God, please! Help me!"; then the killer seemed to be reprimanded in a different voice: "Filthy Billy!...I know what you did, Blllyl Stupid Billy! Billy! Billy! Mad!"; Jessica hung up in disgust
  • after Jessica called and reported the obscene phone calls, she was able to get a response. Lieut. Fuller arrived with phone company lineman Graham at the sorority house on 6 Belmont Street to tap the sorority house's main phone line, and to station Officer Jennings (Julian Reed) in a squad car outside. However, Lt. Fuller unwisely chose not to tap the private phone line of Mrs. MacHenry, since obscene calls hadn't been received there
  • the third victim was Barb who was sleeping in her room, but suffering from an asthma attack (after having awakened from a nightmare of a stranger stalking her). She was bloodily stabbed numerous times with an ornamental glass unicorn figure (and its long spike) (while carolers were singing O Come All Ye Faithful at the front door and masking the noise). In slow-motion, she extended her bloody hand and knocked down other glass figurines by her bed.

Weapon - Glass Unicorn Figurine

Killer Ready to Plunge Glass Spike

Barb Sleeping

Barb's Reaction to Stabbing

Caroler Outside

Barb's Bloody Hand
The Killer's Weapon (A Glass Unicorn) for the Multiple Stabbing Death of Barb - She Arched Her Back and Extended Her Bloody Hand, Knocking Down Other Figurines
  • there was another creepy call to the house, when the caller quoted something Peter had said to Jess ("Just like having a wart removed") - a reference to her abortion procedure (making Peter a possible suspect), but the caller wasn't on the line long enough to be traced. The fourth victim was Phyllis (murdered off-screen) after entering Barb's room and finding her body
  • at the same time, another call came in - dialed from Mrs. MacHenry's phone line - answered by Jessica. It was another obscene, disturbing, and confusing conversation mixed with screaming and the presence of multiple voices: ("You fat pig! You pig! You bitch pig! Look at your little baby!...Billy! Billy! Where's the baby? Where's Agnes? You left Billy alone with Agnes!...Where's Agnes? Agnes! Give Mommy the baby! Baby's all right, Mommy!") This time, the phone call was traced, placing the Killer at the address of the sorority house - he was using Mrs. MacHenry's separate phone line. And then Officer Jennings outside in his squad car was found with his throat slit (off-screen).
  • Jessica was instructed on the phone by Sgt. Nash that she must leave the house immediately ("Just put the phone back on the hook, walk to the front door, and leave the house") - and then against specific instructions by Lt. Fuller, Nash divulged that the killer was in the house - one of the most common horror film tropes:

Jess, the caller is in the house! The calls are coming from the house!

  • Sgt. Nash kept frantically ordering Jess to not go upstairs to check on her friends, and to leave the house immediately. Against his orders and to prepare herself, Jess grabbed the fireplace poker as a weapon, cautiously climbed the stairs, and entered Barb's room where she found the bloodied bodies of both Barb and Phyllis on display
  • looking up, and from a crack in the door, Jess saw a wide-open eye watching her, and heard a whispering voice say: "Agnes, it's me, Billy! Agnes, Agnes, don't you tell what we did, Agnes." Jess presumed it was the killer. She slammed the door on the person and ran through the house. She was unable to open the jammed front door, so she raced into the basement (while being pursued by the killer), and locked the door behind her.
  • when the killer was unable to break down the cellar door, his footsteps seemed to retreat. After a few moments of looking around, Jess saw the silhouette of a person at the basement window, who then moved to a second dirty window while calling out: "Jess, are you alright?" Fearing that Peter was going to kill her after busting out the window and climbing inside (and approaching her while repeatedly calling out her name), she bloodily bludgeoned him with her fireplace poker (off-screen), suspecting that he was the murderer (the film's 'red herring'). Police cars with sirens blaring arrived at the house and heard screaming. Lt. Fuller and other officers found Peter dead and cradled in Jess's lap.

Silhouette at Basement Window

Intruder (Peter) Calling Out at Dirty Window: "Jess, Are You Alright?"
Jess Terrorized and Traumatized in Basement by Peter

Peter Approaching Closer
Peter Found Bludgeoned to Death by Jess
  • afterwards, police were pondering whether Peter was the killer ("Why would Peter start killing people?"), but Lt. Fuller presumed that Peter was indeed the killer. The officers were unable to question Jess who was sedated and would be unconscious for at least 4 hours. The bodies that had been discovered would be taken to the nearby Lincolnville morgue for autopsies and identification by the coroner and the parents of the deceased. Jess was left to sleep in her upstairs sorority house bedroom
  • the film's final twist was that the killer was still in the attic (where the bodies of Clare and Mrs. Mac had still been undiscovered) - the camera slowly panned from Jess' room over to the attic's ladder and trap door, where the killer was heard softly singing to the two corpses still stashed up there, and was also heard whispering: "Agnes, its me, Billy!" The camera slowly zoomed backwards and out through the attic window (where Clare was still seated), as the phone in the house began to ring during the scrolling final credits - a signal that the killer was still on the loose and another murder (of Jess?) was about to take place!

POV Exterior Stalking of Christmas-Decorated Sorority House

The "Moaner's" Obscene Phone Call

Scene of Attack on Clare (Lynne Griffin) in Her Room's Closet - Suffocated with a Plastic Garment Bag

Mrs. "Mac" House-Mother Hooked in Chin by Killer and Dragged Into Attic and Killed (Off-Screen)

Another Obscene Phone Answered by Jess

Mentally-Unstable Peter (Keir Dullea) Upset About Jess Seeking an Abortion

Phyl (Andrea Martin) Just Before Her Off-Screen Murder

Killer Using Mrs. MacHenry's Private Phone Line For Calls

Officer Jennings With a Slit Throat in Squad Car Out Front

Jess Notified by Sgt. Nash to Vacate the House: "The Caller is in the House!"

Jess' Tense Decision to Go Upstairs

The Discovery of the Bloodied Bodies of Barb and Phyl Next to Each Other - Found by Jess in Barb's Room

In the Hallway, a Spying Eye Whispering: "Agnes, it's me, Billy! Agnes, Agnes, don't you tell what we did, Agnes"

Alone and Unconscious, Jess Was Sedated in Her Sorority House Bedroom

The Last Image: Outside of House


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