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How ‘Halloween’ Was Basically an Unofficial ‘Black Christmas’ Sequel

Halloween is over. Christmas is near. A fitting time to explore an interesting link.

John Carpenter’s Halloween and Bob Clark’s Black Christmas have a good deal in common, and it’s not just that they’re both holiday horror classics. The films were also both released in the 1970s – Halloween in 1978 and Black Christmas several years prior, in 1974 – and they’re both credited for helping to kick-start the American slasher movement that primarily dominated the 1980s. Of course, most ’80s slashers had way more in common with Friday the 13th – released in 1980 – but the tropes of the sub-genre were firmly established in the ’70s by Clark and Carpenter.

What else do Halloween and Black Christmas have in common? Well, the origins of John Carpenter’s game-changing slasher classic can perhaps be traced back to a conversation he once had with Bob Clark about, you guessed it, Black Christmas – specifically, that conversation was about a sequel to Black Christmas

Speaking with Icons of Fright many years ago, the late Bob Clark relayed the tale:

I never intended to do a sequel [to Black Christmas]. I did a film about three years later… started a film with John Carpenter. It was his first film for Warner Bros. He asked me if I was ever going to do a sequel and I said no. I was through with horror; I didn’t come into the business to do just horror. He said, ‘Well what would you do if you did do a sequel?’ I said it would be the next year and the guy would have actually been caught, escape from a mental institution, go back to the house, and they would start all over again. And I would call it Halloween.

Sound familiar? Yup, that’s basically the plot of Halloween, in a nutshell. Of course, a killer escaping a mental hospital and going on another rampage isn’t exactly all that original of a concept for a slasher film, but it’s hard to imagine that this conversation didn’t at least have some modicum of influence on Carpenter when it came time to make his own slasher.

Did he steal the idea from Clark? Clark didn’t think so:

The truth is John didn’t copy Black Christmas. He wrote a script, directed the script, did the casting. Halloween is his horror movie and besides, the script came to him already titled anyway. He liked Black Christmas and may have been influenced by it, but in no way did John Carpenter copy the idea. Fifteen other people at that time had thought to do a movie called Halloween, but the script came to John with that title on it.

How Halloween came to be, from what we’ve heard over the years, is that producers Irwin Yablans and Moustapha Akkad approached Carpenter to direct a movie about a killer stalking babysitters. Carpenter and Debra Hill agreed, beginning work on a script titled The Babysitter Murders. It was reportedly Yablans who then suggested the movie be retitled Halloween, and set on Halloween night.

Are Billy and Michael Myers the same person? Did Black Christmas directly inspire Halloween? One of these questions is silly (but fun) to ponder, and the other seems to have a definite answer. Yes, Black Christmas did influence Halloween, if only because it laid the groundwork for ideas and even shooting styles that Carpenter would have even more success with just four years later. As for that conversation with Bob Clark, it certainly seems to have made an impression on Carpenter.

Black Christmas and Halloween. Equally influential classics, at the end of the day.

black-christmas

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COMMENTS

43 Comments
  • Saturn

    How long before someone makes a video of Michael on the phone to Jess……

    (unless it’s already been done? probably…..)

    • John Squires

      Would LOVE to see that!

    • J Jett

      or have Michael breathing into the phone and edit the BXMAS scenes of fantastic Margot Kidder (also on the phone) telling Michael to “go stick your tongue in a light socket”, etc….LOL. 🙂

      • Saturn

        Or she could be spelling out….c….u….n….n….i…..

        🙂

        Imagine Michael’s surprise!

        • J Jett

          Saturn, THAT’S RIGHT!! i totally forgot about that part!! LOL.

  • ScriptGiverTJ

    Yay you made it out of your really long coma!

  • CLK

    [Halloween Treat] Alfred Hitchcock Directed Movie ‘Psycho’!

    • John Squires

      That was actually Gus Van Sant, sir.

      • ScriptGiverTJ

        Haha. I like someone that has a good sense of humor.

        • John Squires

          Hey, I can take the criticism. This was just a fun/interesting thing I know a lot fans aren’t aware of, so I wanted to write it up. That’s all. Never said it was news. Never said it was exclusive. Just trying to entertain and inform here. That’s all any of us are trying to do. Maybe I’ll win ya over next time!

          • ScriptGiverTJ

            You already did! Just some good natured ribbing on my part. Your van sant reply was funny and shows you don’t take yourself too seriously.

          • ghostofmurrayhamilton

            Good article, man. Though I wonder if Carpenter even recalls the conversation with Bob Clark, since Irwin Yablans has always been credited with coming up with the the title Halloween.

          • PsychoMantis18

            I liked this post.

          • Saturn

            Is fine, there are plenty of newer horror fans coming though (and even older ones) who didn’t know that info.
            Feel free to post – if someone already knows, then they don’t have to read it.
            I’m certain there will be younger kids who browse who would find stuff like that interesting.

  • ScriptGiverTJ

    Drew Barrymore was supposed to play Sidney in SCREAM?!?! [Exclusive]

  • Blade4693

    I never knew of that interview. I had heard that Black Christmas came first and was a similar styled slasher, but I never knew Carpenter and the Christmas guy had talked before.

    Interesting stuff for sure.

    • PsychoMantis18

      Christmas guy?

      He had a name…

      • Blade4693

        Look dude, first let me start by saying I did not realize he had passed away otherwise I would have googled his name and used it out of respect for him, so that’s my bad. Secondly, I was typing quickly because I was about to go do something which is another reason why I didn’t bother to google his name or go up and read for it.

        No intentional disrespect on my part.

        • PsychoMantis18

          You needs ta chill. Was only joking. Was trying to channel Shredder from the 80’s Turtles movie.

          • Saturn

            Now that’s a random reference!

          • PsychoMantis18

            Well… hopefully not for us 80’s children…

          • Blade4693

            Lol my bad man. I am so used to people on the internet constantly trying to start arguments or getting offended that I assumed you were legit upset haha

          • PsychoMantis18

            All good, mang. Understandable, everyone seems to want to get upset about something these days, hard to tell.

      • Saturn

        In all fairness, using the term “the Christmas guy” is fine as he did TWO classic Christmas movies.
        Black Christmas and A Christmas Story.
        To many, before the late,great Bob Clark died, he was “the Christmas guy…..”

        • PsychoMantis18

          Fair enough. My joke quality-control team had the day off.

      • Satanzilla

        What a loser you are.

        • PsychoMantis18

          Coming from Satanzilla….
          Consider me heart-broken.

          • Satanzilla

            That’s what a loser would say. So well done.

          • PsychoMantis18

            Funny, was thinking the same thing about your last two comments…

  • PsychoMantis18

    Never knew this… very interesting.

  • J Jett

    yeah, i remember reading/hearing about this convo between Clark & Carpenter years and years ago but i forgot the exacts specifics (so thank you for posting it here!). 🙂
    both HALLOWEEN and BLACK XMAS are great films but i find BXMAS to be more unsettling/scary-ish/freaky than HALLOWEEN is. Billy’s jaw droppingly scary vocal rampages on the phone are truly terrifying because we hear just how fucking OUT OF HIS MIND Billy is and someone that insane is capable of anything (violence-wise).

    but again, i love both films and i’m glad Clark and Carpenter gave us horror fans those films! 🙂

    • Saturn

      I seem to remember reading that they were actually room-mates at some stage, and this is when the conversation happened.

      I love both movies, and watch Black Christmas every Christmas Eve going back at least 25 years or so. The remake though? Meh.

      • J Jett

        Saturn, i think i’m one of the only people (it’s a lonely club. LOL) who actually liked the BC remake. lol. it’s beautifully shot (cinematography), it has a great cast (i.e. Katie Cassidy, etc.) and really good gnarly gore (eyeball eating!). but i fully understand why some people don’t like the movie. 🙂

        • Saturn

          I loathe the damn movie tbh, the only redeeming factor is all the hot chicks in it (especially the goddess among women Mary Elizabeth Winstead).
          I can’t believe that it’s already 10 years old. Where has the time gone?

    • JJ82

      Totally in agreement with you. I love Halloween but Black Christmas did it first and in my opinion it did it better. There’s something just truly unsettling about Black Christmas. And the last 15 minutes are just incredible. Love Halloween and Michael Myers but I have crazy respect for Black Christmas. The way they portrayed Billy is just absolutely frightening.

  • There were actually plans for a BLACK CHRISTMAS sequel to happen,with both Olivia Hussey and John Saxon back in their roles,but it never did become a reality . It was reported on a few now-gone genre news websites in the early 00s/2000s(if anyone cares to look it up).

  • Dan Warren (Forgottenretroworl

    Old news. Billy and Michael CAN’T be the same person because Michael never said a dirty word to anybody. Obscene breathing, maybe.

  • Satanzilla

    That’s like saying Alien is the sequel to Dark Star.

    • David James Martin

      Nah, Alien is the sequel to Jodrowsky’s Dune lol

  • wrestling fan 36

    Never saw the original black christmas but saw the remake and liked it (i seem to be one of few that did lol) as for halloween, that my favorite horror franchise

  • Jack Nause

    Big fan of both movies, but Halloween and Black Christmas are very different and not copies. They just share much that is in common with the horror genre.

  • Raul Calvo

    This are the same comments Bob Clark did in an old audiocommentary for one of the firts editions of Black Christmas on DVD.

  • Halloween_Vic

    Cool I mean their are similarities which is awesome, however you can’t compare any film to the original Carpenter Halloween. And no billy is definitely not Michael Myers though they may be long lost cousins from the same bloodline.

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