The Original Slasher Horror Made By Beloved Christmas Director You Can Stream Right Now

By Brian Myers | Updated

black christmas

Several years before Michael Myers attacked Laurie Strode and her friends there was a movie slasher that is often overlooked as the inspiration for many films in the genre. Not only was Black Christmas a trailblazer in horror, it was directed by a man who later made a real family Christmas classic. Bob Clark, who directed the 1983 holiday movie A Christmas Story served as the man who brought a terrifying urban legend to life on theater screens in 1974.

The Story

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Black Christmas begins with a telephone call into a sorority house that’s answered by a girl named Jess (Olivia Hussey). It’s just another obscene phone call from a man that the sorority has nicknamed “the moaner,” as all he does is rant and scream obscenities to whoever answers the call. This particular time, however, the caller begins making death threats.

The threats upset one of the sorority sisters named Claire (Lynne Griffin). Claire decides to leave the house and goes upstairs to her bedroom to gather her things. Before she’s able to leave, a man emerges from her closet and kills her.

As Black Christmas continues, Claire’s worried parents contact the sorority when she doesn’t arrive at their home. After the police get involved, the members of the sorority house are beginning to be picked off one by one, often after answering the moaner’s phone calls.

The Ultimate Contrast

black christmas

Set against the backdrop of the holiday season, Black Christmas offers audiences the ultimate contrast; a time of family and joy weaved unapologetically with the violence from an elusive serial murderer. It was a movie that thrilled audiences when it was released in 1974, as it drew from two believable inspirations.

Black Christmas combines the elements of urban legends about the killers hiding in the house with the childhood memories of fledgling writer Roy Moore. Moore was inspired by real-life murders that took place in his hometown, adding elements of the case file to his slasher flick. The real attribute the film possessed was the man at its helm, director Bob Clark.

Bob Clark

black christmas

Clark had previously directed the low-budget horror film Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things, a zombie picture that drew inspiration from George Romero. Clark loved blending in humor with even the most serious of subject matters, and his direction included altering the script to add some comic relief to Black Christmas.

It was a decision that made the film more well-rounded, as was his decision to make the college-aged characters more adult-like than that age group was typically depicted in American films.

The Cast

Clark’s direction of the players on screen also took the film to another level. Olivia Hussey in particular was especially memorable, and Margot Kidder stole every scene she was in. Nick Mancuso, who voiced the killer Billy, added layer upon layer of chills to Black Christmas, his moaning and rasping into the ears of the co-eds just as horrifying as his kill scenes.

Where To Watch


There have been slasher films with much larger budgets and bigger name cast members than Black Christmas, but there’s an argument to be made that none of them would have been possible had it not been for this pioneering film. The number of movies that Bob Clark’s film inspired are too many to mention, but John Carpenter’s Halloween is a notable film that might not have been the same without it.

You can stream Black Christmas for free with Crackle, Tubi and Roku, or rent it On Demand with Vudu, Prime, AppleTV, and Google Play.