Is the House in ‘Black Christmas’ the Best Character in the Movie? [Horror Reel Estate]

Black Christmas fan photo

Horror Reel Estate takes a look at the infamous locations found in some of your favorite horror movies, old and new. It serves as a handy real estate guide, a crash course in architecture, and a one-stop reference for interesting facts about these iconic landmarks. Even if you’re not quite ready to make an offer, these places will always take up valuable space within the confines of our cherished movie memories.

It seems like Bob Clark’s Black Christmas from 1974 is getting even more acclaim than usual this December. One thing that hasn’t been talked about a lot is the actual house where the vast majority of the film was shot.

Now that the house has become so recognizable, it’s hard to picture director Bob Clark and art director Karen Bromley seeing the interior for the first time. In the 2005 made-for-television series On Screen, Clark reflects,

“I saw this little driveway and a little private house. I had no right to do what I did, I guess, but I pulled in there. That was it. That was the house I had to have. The people were very agreeable, kind of tickled pink at the idea. And inside, as a matter of fact, it was a studio off by itself, well off the street.”

Knowing they had found a diamond in the rough, Bromley also started to see Clark’s vision from the get-go. “It’s got the film geography that the story needs. But more importantly, it’s got the character”, she said. “You stood on that little cul-de-sac road and looked at that house and you knew there was something very creepy possibly in there.”

Also Read: The MKE Sisters of ‘Black Christmas’ (2019) Fight Back [Matriarchy Rising]

The Black Christmas house is located on a fairly hidden wraparound street just off of the historic intersection of Saint Clair and Avenue Road in Toronto. Originally built in 1906, the official address is 6 Clarendon Crescent. The Tudor Revival home was designed by architect Charles P. Band, whose name should ring a bell for horror fans. Sadly, there’s no connection between Charles P. Band and director Charles Band, the B-movie horror legend that founded Full Moon Features and gave us such classics as Puppet Master and Ghoulies.

Originally, Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor Sir John Strathearn Hendrie purchased the home in 1914 and lived there until 1921. Although the Bell Canada phone service was founded in 1880, it is unclear if Hendrie received any obscene prank calls during his residence.

At the time of this photo in 1926, 6 Clarendon Crescent was owned by Mrs. Lionel Clarke. Casa Loma neighborhood, Toronto. Courtesy of Toronto Public Library & the Toronto Star Archives.

Also Read: Barb From ‘Black Christmas’ (1974) Is A Bisexual Icon

in a 2015 interview with Canada’s Daily Construction News focusing on the Black Christmas estate, architect Robert Hill was surprised the home had been used as the setting for a horror film. “It doesn’t have any of the qualities that you see in classic horror-film houses.” (What?!) Hill did acknowledge the ornate qualities of the home, calling it a “fine example of Rosedale domesticity with exquisite detailing.” The Rosedale area that he refers to boasted many homes displaying elements of Tudor Revival and Queen Anne Revival styles. For architectural buffs, the Tudor Revival came over from England and took hold in Canada around 1920.

Speaking specifically about 6 Clarendon Crescent, Hill noted some of the attributes of the home that became memorable locations in the film. “If you look at impeccable detailing of some of the forms and shapes on the exterior of the house, it really has a strong British influence, from the half-timber framing on the third-floor, the projecting bay windows, and also the asymmetrical form of the house interests me.”

Assuming you just watched Black Christmas this week (we know you did!), the third floor is where Billy, the real killer, hid out as he tormented and killed a number of sorority sisters. Apparently, original screenwriter A. Roy Moore based the story on the urban legend of “the babysitter and the man upstairs”. As the legend goes, a prank caller implores the sitter to “check on the children”. When she does, she tragically learns that the children have either been killed, or she is murdered, or both. It all depends what campfire story Moore heard first.

Also Read: All of 1974’s ‘Black Christmas’ Characters Ranked Worst to Best

Reportedly, Moore also based the plot on a slew of Montreal murders by serial killer Wayne Boden. Garnering the ridiculous name of the Vampire Rapist, Boden allegedly killed five women between 1969 and 1971. Based on police reports that were leaked to the press, he would bite his victims. Bob Clark was also supposedly inspired by a series of murders in the 1940s, but I only found one source that claimed this.

Moving from the third floor to the basement, the actual house only has a dedicated half-basement. Typical for the style, the half-basement is only visible to the side of the front door, underneath a period-correct balustrade. If you’re looking for a virtual tour, a fan back in 2012 befriended the owner and was allowed in to film the home. In the YouTube comment section of that video, however, another fervent fan is positive the actual basement from the home was not used. The original basement is more labyrinthine featuring a set of deserted rooms lined with wooden panels. Additionally, the actual attic was at a house that was also near the University of Toronto on McCall street. The back staircase to the upstairs third floor, according to first hand accounts, was original.

About This Home

Homeowner Edith Beauty was interviewed for the On-Screen documentary in 2012 and, luckily, has nothing but nice things to say about the random fans that visited the residence during her time there.

The property features nine rooms with high ceilings. It includes a ballroom, a great room, eight restored fireplaces, and a gym with a spa. In a recent listing, the house was described as having “great interior flow, flushed with natural lighting augmented by generous use of halogen pots”.

Listed by Harvey Kalles Real Estate, the home last sold for $2,840,000 on May 25, 2006.

Intersection of St. Clair and Avenue Road in 1928. About two blocks from the Black Christmas house at 6 Clarendon Crescent

Closing Costs

Director Bob Clark shows just how important the house is by making it both the first and final shots of the film.

The slow-moving pans highlighting Billy the killer’s point-of-view wind up showing virtually every corner of the house. When the killer explores the home, we’re exploring it right along with him.

The term “proto-slasher” is thrown around a lot when discussing Black Christmas. I’d argue it’s the first North American slasher film that deeply inspired John Carpenter’s Halloween, the first American slasher film in 1978. Peeping Tom, released the same year as Psycho in 1960, is the quintessential proto-slasher that actually warrants that term. Black Christmas brings all the elements together to form the first true slasher film. We would certainly still be revisiting Clark’s classic now, although it just wouldn’t have been the same movie without the house on Clarendon street.

Know any other facts about Black Christmas? Any additional info or corrections you’d like to add? I love researching the history of these historic places and I will always welcome new facts that shed a light on the past. Let me know on Twitter via DrewSTinnin. You can also let your voice be heard in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram! Dread Central is now on Google News!



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