Although this Canadian production saw its widest U.S. cable TV distribution in the early '80s (primarily under the title Stranger in the House
) to capitalize on the phenomenal success of Halloween
and its offspring, this effective suspense-thriller actually predates John Carpenter's film by four years. The story involves a dangerous psychopath hiding out in the attic of a sorority house who torments a small group of pretty young sisters (including Olivia Hussey and Margot Kidder) who are staying behind over Christmas break. His tactics range from making obscene phone calls from their house-mother's phone, to stalking the terrified boarders with sharp objects and murderous intent. Director Bob Clark
, who mistook dreariness for tension in his previous horror effort Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things!
(1972), here demonstrates a tight, aggressive style that generates some very original shocks -- particularly the surprise ending -- which clearly influenced dozens of similarly-themed slasher films to follow.