40 Years of Black Christmas
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40 Years of Black Christmas

Revisit one of horror's most iconic films this Saturday at the Royal.

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Image courtesy of Ambassador Film Distributors.

‘Tis the season for spending time with loved ones, so Rue Morgue and Anchor Bay Entertainment are inviting you to gather your friends and get cozy in the warming glow of the Royal Cinema’s screen on Saturday, December 20. What sort of festive cheer are they offering? Well, with the help of the Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival and Toronto After Dark Film Festival, they’re presenting a special, one-night-only screening of Black Christmas, in honour of the film’s 40th anniversary.

You might not have heard of this movie, but it’s kind of a big deal—especially where Canadian horror cinema is concerned. Directed by the late Bob Clark (A Christmas Story, Porky’s), this simple, Toronto-centric scare-fest inspired countless modern slasher flicks, including the Halloween franchise. It also kick-started the horror careers of John Saxon (A Nightmare on Elm Street), Olivia Hussey (It), Lynne Griffin (Curtains), and Margot Kidder (The Amityville Horror).

With classes wrapping up for the Christmas break, the sisters of Pi Kappa Sig are heading home to their families—but Clare Harrison never makes it. Fuelling the fear surrounding her disappearance, someone keeps making increasingly disturbing phone calls to her house. Is it a coincidence? Or is something more sinister at play? Forget the trashy tropes that have plagued the horror genre in recent years, Black Christmas is not your typical sorority girl slasher film. Showing only enough gore to get stomachs churning, this movie favours mystery and slow-building tension over cheap thrills. Perhaps you won’t jump out of your seat every few minutes, but we bet your goosebumps will stick around long after you leave the theatre.

While our city masquerades as the town of Bedford in this film, its identity isn’t completely disguised. An obvious Toronto map, and references to the nearby town of Unionville are sure to inspire a nerdy sense of Hey, I know that place! Even four decades later, many of the iconic filming locations are still intact and accessible to the public. The University of Toronto campus gets top billing, with scenes taking place at both Victoria College and Hart House. The “sorority house” can also be viewed (from the street—we don’t condone trespassing) on Clarendon Crescent, in the Avenue Road and St. Clair Avenue West area.

Since having a Christmas screening without gifts would be Scrooge-like, your hosts have some pretty nifty things planned for the evening. Original cast member Art Hindle will be on hand to present the film, and likely to regale everyone with stories of Christmases past—or at least of some behind-the-scenes production stuff. If you still need to buy something for the horror-lover on your list, pick up a limited edition Black Christmas anniversary poster from renowned artist Ghoulish Gary Pullin, who will be unveiling his design as part of the festivities.

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