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1974 Dir: Bob Clark With: Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder, John Saxon

'Agnes. Agnes its me, Billy. Agnes, Agnes don't you tell what we did '

Black Christmas predates many of the so-called groundbreaking slasher classics such as Halloween, Friday the 13th and the like. Released in 1974, some four years before Halloween released in 1978, and six years before Friday the 13th in 1980, it is also the first Christmas slasher film, if not the first Christmas horror flick. Yeah I know there are segments in both Ealing's Dead of Night and Amicus's Tales From the Crypt set at the festive time, but can you think of any other full-length movies? And how many flicks of this genre have been set in a sorority house since this one? Countless!

It's Christmas (hence the title!) and the girls in the sorority house are making plans for the holidays, but they keep receiving weird phone calls, which they try to deal with by laughing them off at first, and giving a pet name to the caller, "The Moaner". After one of these calls at the beginning of the film, one of the girls, Clare Harrison goes upstairs. Someone is hiding in her closet behind a polythene clothes bag. Claude the cat, who's been prowling around since she got upstairs, suddenly goes missing, but she can hear his faint meows somewhere. Clare hears something in the closet and goes inside to investigate (hasn't she seen scream? Doesn't she know - never to do that?) Anyway, pretty soon the polythene clothes bag the killer is hiding behind is wrapped around her pretty face and she becomes The Moaner's first victim.

The girls know nothing of this and think that Clare has disappeared (you know how it is sometimes, you go upstairs and never come back down - hey it happens!) Her father comes looking for her and the police are contacted. When Clares father turns up at the house, he encounters what he sees as a house of ill- repute, and the housemother to the girls, Mrs Mac (who seems to have booze ingeniously hidden everywhere around the house!) doesn't help to convince him otherwise.

Barb (Margot Kidder - in her pre-Lois Lane days) doesn't make matters any easier for him either, when, later, she drunkenly informs him that certain species of turtle can screw for 3 days without stopping (man those turtles - such staying power!)

While some of the girls go to the park to help the police look for their missing housemate, Mrs Mac stays behind to pack, informing them that she might not be there when they get back (isn't this er making it just a little bit obvious that she's next on the killer's hit list?)

She goes looking for that ever-elusive Claude the cat upstairs, and seems to think he's in the attic. So guess what folks? Yes you've guessed it - she goes up to the attic to investigate, and gets pulled up by the killer for her trouble! The mysterious presence in the attic subsequently throws a tantrum and starts throwing things about (now, now, temper, temper!)

The search party find a 13 yr old girl murdered in the park. Meanwhile back at the house the caller is ranting on about someone called Billy. One of the girls, Jess (Olivia Hussey) puts the phone down, but someone is creeping up on her. It is Peter, who is Jesss boyfriend. She informs him that she is pregnant and she's going to get an abortion. Peter is not too pleased about this piece of information, as when he hears the news of the pregnancy he's hearing wedding bells (or are they sleigh bells?) He thinks they could make it work if they settled down, but Jess isn't having any of it, that bitch wants rid and nothing's going to change her mind! You're going to be very sorry, Peter tells her and storms out. Ut-oh!

The police put a tap on the phones and they position the staple patrol car outside (and you just know that the unlucky cop stationed there is going to be bumped off sooner or later by the killer, don't you!)

Carol singers call (hey - it's Christmas remember!) and while Jess is at the door listening to their angelic voices, upstairs Barb is being visited by the killer, who seems to think that she's someone called Agnes. 'It's me Billy, it's all right Agnes, it's all right, pretty Agnes,' he says. Looks more like Lois Lane to me Bill! Barb wakes with the killer stood over her about to bump her off (oh dear, where's Superman when you need him, eh Lois?)

Jess begins more and more to suspect that The Moaner is Peter. The only remaining housemate Phyl is next to meet her doom. And those cops finally manage to trace the call and inform Jess that the caller is calling from inside the house.  Yikes!  The cop who informs our Jess of this tells her to get out of the house and on no account go upstairs. So what does she do? She grabs a poker and ... yep ... she goes upstairs!

Is Peter the killer? Does she survive her investigation upstairs? And who the fuck is Billy? Watch this classic and find out the answers to at least two of these questions!

Directed by Bob Clark whos other films include, Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things in 1971 and the Ed Gein inspired, Deranged in 1974.