By Raymond Knowby

Occasionally, there is some truth buried within the manipulative exclamations of advertising. The tagline to the film reads “if this picture doesn’t make your skin crawl…it’s on TOO TIGHT!”

And holy homicidal maniacs, they’re not kidding. Director Bob Clark scores an obscure bullseye in bloodcurdling terror that sees a maniac making obscene phone calls to a sorority house on Christmas break. What’s this? He’s already inside the attic? He kills them off slowly, playing cat and mouse until only Jess (Olivia Hussey) is left alive?!

The story is woven tighter than a human-skinned drum, with a great build up of tension that pays in spades when the psychotic phone calls begin to tear apart the cast. Fantastic atmosphere off the winter surroundings and the menacing tone of the prowler in the darkened house (also of skillful note is that his actual screen time is kept almost nil, and his identity never truly revealed). Take into account that this came before WHEN A STRANGER CALLS, then top it off with the fact that the voice and performance of the killer is unbelievably insane, and you have yourself a bona fide nightmare maker. Wait until you see the ending–you’ll have to double check your pulse.

Great cast, great screenplay, and absolutely stone cold terrifying. A true horror classic that should never be watched alone.

Jess listens to a madman on the phone in Bob Clark's BLACK CHRISTMAS.