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[Exclusive] The ‘Black Christmas’ Connection That Will Change the Way You Watch ‘Behind the Mask’

Did Billy train Leslie Vernon to kill?!

Exactly ten years after the release of Scream, another meta slasher film arrived on the scene in the form of Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, director Scott Glosserman’s brilliant deconstruction of the sub-genre. The film centers on the titular Leslie Vernon (Nathan Baesel), a slasher villain on the rise who’s being followed around by a documentary crew. It’s creatively set in a world where all of the other big horror villains exist (Freddy, Jason, and Michael Myers are mentioned by name), and Vernon hopes to become the next great slasher icon.

At one point in the film, Leslie takes a trip to the home of a character named Eugene, a “retired” killer who has been serving as Vernon’s mentor. Eugene, played by “The Walking Dead” actor Scott Wilson, mentions that he was active in the late ’60s/’70s, but there are of course no slasher villains from around that time named Eugene. Then again, maybe Eugene isn’t his real name.

Maybe it’s Billy.

A conversation the other day between Heather Buckley, Nat Brehmer, and Adam Barnick over on Twitter led me to an interview Barnick conducted with Behind the Mask writer David J. Stieve for Icons of Fright several years back, and I was shocked to discover that Stieve mentioned in the interview that Eugene in Behind the Mask was actually intended to be unseen sorority house slasher Billy from Black Christmas. And so I reached out to Stieve today, who confirmed that yes, if only in Stieve’s mind, Billy and Eugene are indeed one in the same!

Stieve explained to me:

I can confirm that Eugene has always been Billy in my mind. Scott (Wilson) would be the right age for him, and it always fit for me that Eugene would have that “old school” nostalgia and slight professional jealousy that even though he was a pioneer in the business of fear, he never achieved the fame or notoriety of his successors (Michael, Jason, etc).

That’s just me, however. It was never explicitly written into a draft, it was always just lore that Scott Glosserman and I carried with us!

Armed with this fun little trivia tidbit, I went back and re-watched Eugene’s scenes in Behind the Mask, and it all adds up. Here’s Eugene’s monologue about his career:

It was a whole different world back when I was in the game. I had a good portion of my success in the late ’60s, ’70s. Back then, it was about quantity of work – how many jobs can you fit in a year, how many places can you hit? Ya know, we didn’t have all this preparation these guys use today. There’s always been hacks out there. People mucking it up. One-hit wonders who make a bloody mess of some sorority somewhere and get killed… or arrested. Makes it bad for all of us. Cheapens it.

In the next scene, Eugene adds:

Jay, Fred, Mike… there weren’t nobody like them in the early years. We just hit hard, wiped everybody out, and disappeared as soon as we could… without ever giving a thought to coming back. Those boys lifted it to a whole other level, they made an artform of it. Turned themselves into legends, by returning like a curse over and over again. That was a radical change in philosophy. Changed the whole business.

In the wake of Black Christmas, the slasher sub-genre was indeed changed forever thanks to Jason, Freddy, and Michael – killers who returned over and over again, racking up the body count with each passing year. As for Billy, he “hit hard, wiped everybody out, and disappeared“… without ever giving a thought to coming back. There never was a Black Christmas 2, now was there?

A fun new way to watch Behind the Mask, if nothing more!




  • Eastman420

    Thats awesome!!!

  • Df

    So you’re saying your big exclusive is based off something not at all fact but just a idea in someone’s head they intended about 2 movies completely separate by decades, writers and directors?

    God damn do you guys really have nothing worth posting?

    • THGrimm

      Yikes, that was hostile. Don’t you just have fun toying with ideas and spiritual connections? That’s all the fun!

    • AmazSpiderMan1

      I thought the same thing. There’s no connection here, especially since they imply Eugene’s wife was his surviving victim and clearly she wasn’t a character in “Black Christmas”. Hardly “changes” the way I watch the film.

  • Tryst V. Umbra

    Hmm, the timing of this is interesting- was mentioned in this list earlier today:

    • John Squires

      As mentioned, my source was a series of tweets from over the weekend and a years-old Icons of Fright interview. But definitely interesting timing. Strange too, considering for years I had never heard anyone say a peep about this!

  • Elizabeth

    I love Behind The Mask *so* much. I make everyone watch it, whether they want to or not. I really wish the sequel would have gotten off the ground.

  • This article made my night. Thanks for posting!!!

  • THGrimm

    Incredible! I love how ideas in a writers head go into a script, even if it’s not explicit. It makes it so much richer. Behind The Mask is one of my absolute favorites. Too bad they couldn’t get the rights to call him Billy. Then again, he probably would have had to change his name . . .

  • Awesome! ‘Behind the Mask’ is one of the best slashers ever made (as is ‘Black Christmas’). This is one more reason it’s so great.

  • Charles Cumella

    Great theory! Behind the Mask has been one of the most inventive horror movies in years and hasn’t really had anything come close to it yet. Here’s to a sequel!!

  • Benoit Balls

    To even suggest that Leslie’s mentor was Billy from Black Christmas is ludicrous stretching: Billy was nothing more than an unhinged mental patient who couldn’t control himself– Leslie’s mentor was a cold and calculated murderer– straight and simple.

    Can you honestly see a raving lunatic like Billy settling down and getting married?

    Or mentoring anyone?

    There’s no connection there. The director was just having some fun at the expense of the naive. that was nothing more than a lame excuse to write another rubbish article.

    • MildManneredReporter

      None of these things or people are real non of this actually happened so it’s not that much of a reach to have something like that happen in a horror movie. You need to relax a little

      • Benoit Balls

        Eat my poop.

  • Saturn

    A little late, but…..

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