Black Christmas | 1974
Bob Clark’s proto-slasher predated John Carpenter’s Halloween by four years and laid down many of the rules of the genre: there are the POV shots of the unseen stalker, a bunch of kids plagued by menacing phone calls, and blasé cops unconvinced that anything untoward is happening. There’s also John Saxon, who went on to play an almost identical role in A Nightmare On Elm Street.
In a sly nod to It’s A Wonderful Life’s ‘Bedford Falls’, the story is set in the college town of ‘Bedford’, but the pronunciation of “oat and a boat” indicates we’re north of the border in Canada, specifically Toronto, Ontario.
The college at which the kids are studying is the University of Toronto, where the highly-strung and suspect Peter (Keir Dullea) plays – and angrily smashes up – the piano, is Seeley Hall in Trinity College, 6 Hoskin Avenue.
Toronto is a regular, film-friendly location and the Trinity College campus has hosted filming for plenty of movies and TV series, including Searching For Bobby Fischer, The Skulls, Tommy Boy and Moonlight and Valentino.
You can see the main tower of Trinity College in the distance through the arch as Mr Harrison vainly waits for his daughter Claire alongside Hart House on Hart House Crescent, at the foot of Soldiers’ Tower. The landmark Tower was built in 1924 as a memorial to the 628 members of the University of Toronto who died in the First World War.
The emphatic close-up of the Main Street and Swanwick Avenue street sign outside the police station might lead you to assume that it’s no more than a bit of misleading set dressing but, no, this really is the junction of Main and Swanwick in East Danforth. The ‘precinct’ is Community Centre 55 at 97 Main Street.
The ‘Pi Kappa Sigma’ sorority house itself, where the sinister and unseen Billy secretes himself in the attic, is 6 Clarendon Crescent, a little private road running south from Clarendon Avenue, north of downtown, not far from familiar Gothic location Casa Loma, familiar from countless productions including X-Men and Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim Vs The World. Please remember that this is a private home and respect the privacy of the owners.