Billy (Black Christmas)

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Billy
Black Christmas character
Billy Black Christmas.jpg
First appearance Black Christmas
(1974)
Last appearance Black Christmas
(2006)
Created by A. Roy Moore
Bob Clark
Portrayed by 1974 film:
Bob Clark
Nick Mancuso
2006 film:
Cainan Wiebe (child)
Robert Mann
Information
Full name William Edward Lenz
Nickname(s) The Moaner
The Sorority House Killer
Billy
Species Human
Gender Male
Occupation Mass murderer
Serial killer
Nationality Canadian (1974 film)
American (2006 film)

Billy is a fictional character from the Black Christmas series. He first appears in Bob Clark's Black Christmas (1974) as a deranged murderer who breaks into a sorority house and begins to make obscene phone calls before killing the college students one by one. In the original Black Christmas, Billy, referred to as The Prowler in the closing credits, was portrayed by Nick Mancuso and was portrayed by Robert Mann in the 2006 reboot. The character was created by A. Roy Moore and has appeared in two films and a novel.

The character is the primary antagonist in the Black Christmas film series. While the character remains ambiguous behind his identity and motivation in the original film, the remake explores the childhood of Billy.[1][2] Bob Clark's intention was to never reveal what Billy looks like, so in the 1974 film, Billy's physical appearance is never shown, only showing his eye, while in the 2006 film, his appearance is fully revealed.

Appearances[edit]

Black Christmas (1974)[edit]

After "Billy" climbs up into the attic of a sorority house while the occupants hold a Christmas party, he calls the house with a phone upstairs and incites an obscene phone call when Jess (Olivia Hussey) answers the phone and allows her sorority sisters Barb, Phyllis, Clare, and several others to listen in on the call. "Billy" is provoked by Barb, and responds by telling the girls that he is going to kill them. After this, he hides in Clare's closet and as Clare herself investigates a noise from the closet, Billy suffocates her before placing her body in a rocking chair inside the attic. As the sorority sisters join a search party for Clare, Mrs. Mac is murdered by Billy with a hook dragging her into the attic. Upon returning home Jess receives another obscene call from Billy and reports it to the police. While Christmas carolers visit the house to sing, he sneaks into Barb's room and stabs her to death with a glass unicorn head. Afterwards, Jess receives another obscene call and Billy quotes part of the argument that she had with. When Phyllis goes up stairs too check on Barb she is murdered by Billy off-screen. When he calls Jess again, she keeps him on the line long enough for the police to trace the call. Jess is informed that the calls are coming from inside the house and she is told to leave the place immediately. Frightened about the whereabouts of Barb and Phyllis, she grabs a fireplace poker to goes upstairs, and discovers both of them dead. Billy taunts Jess from behind the door and then chases Jess through the house when she slams the door on him, and she barricades herself in the cellar. When Jess kills Peter after falsely believing him to be the killer and the police arrive, they sedate Jess and leave her alone to sleep. After everyone has left, Billy opens up the attic door and whispers "Agnes, it's me Billy." before Jess's phone begins to ring.

Reboot[edit]

In the 2006 reboot, Billy's background is expanded upon. In this film, Billy was a boy born with severe jaundice due to a liver disease, is abused by his mother (Karin Konoval). After murdering Billy's father (Peter Wilds) and burying his body in the underground crawlspace with the help of her boyfriend (Howard Siegel), Billy is locked in the attic by his mother to prevent him from telling authorities. Some time later, she attempts to conceive a new baby but realizes that her boyfriend is impotent. She goes up to the attic and rapes twelve-year-old Billy. Nine months later, a daughter named Agnes is born. When Agnes (Christina Crivici) is eight and Christmas comes around, a grown Billy escapes from the attic and gouges out Agnes' eye. He then gruesomely kills his mother and her lover. He is caught by the police eating cookies made out of his mother's flesh, and is sent to a mental asylum. 15 years later, on Christmas Eve, Billy, now 35, escapes from his cell and heads off to his former home, now a sorority house. Billy begins to kill off the sorority sisters, alongside his sister-daughter Agnes (Dean Friss), one by one. When two of the sorority sisters come face to face with Billy and Agnes in the attic, they start a fire and escape leaving the killers to burn in the fire. Billy is revealed to have survived the fire and tracks them down at the hospital. He kills Leigh (Kristen Cloke) and is left to face the final survivor, Kelli (Katie Cassidy). Kelli attempts to flee and pushes Billy off a stair-rail and he is impaled by the tip of a Christmas tree.

Characterization[edit]

Bob Clark's intention was to never reveal what Billy looked like.[3] Throughout the course of the original film, Billy's appearances are all silhouette, with only a glimpse of his eye being scene when Jess comes face to face with him. Billy is depicted as a verbal, mentally unhinged, mass murderer who says disturbing things incoherently during the phone calls he makes to the sorority house. He is shown to be able to change his voice frequently.[4] Although his physical appearance is not revealed in the 1974 film, in the reboot Billy is shown to have severe jaundice due to a liver disease.[5]

Reception[edit]

In Shock Value: How a Few Eccentric Outsiders Gave Us Nightmares, Conquered Hollywood, and Invented Modern Horror, Jason Zinoman praised the character saying that, "What really made Black Christmas stand out was the killer, who, despite all expectations to the contray, the audience never actually sees-except for one shot of his eyes peeking out of the crack in the door to the attic. We know he's up there and that he occasionally comes downstairs to butcher people, but we never known when."[6] In Horror Films of the 1970s, John Kenneth Muir, who criticized certain aspects of Black Christmas for being unbelievable, called Billy an effective villain stating, "the "Moaner" is a really creepy villain. His sick, oddball voice is frightening, and the things he says are downright horrid." He then said that the phone call scenes work because "we've all been plagued by crank callers, and some of us have been plagued by crank callers while in our homes."[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Myth and Reality of Serial Killers in US Cinema. ProQuest. ISBN 0549375333. 
  2. ^ Hantke, Steffen (2010). American Horror Film: The Genre at the Turn of the Millennium. Univ. Press of Mississippi. p. 112. ISBN 160473454X. 
  3. ^ Nowell, Richard (2010). Blood Money: A History of the First Teen Slasher Film Cycle. Bloomsbury Publishing USA. ISBN 1441188509. 
  4. ^ Muir, John (2002). Horror Films of the 1970s. McFarland. ISBN 0786491566. 
  5. ^ "Black Christmas movie review". Doom Generation. 
  6. ^ Zinoman, Jason (2011). Shock Value: How a Few Eccentric Outsiders Gave Us Nightmares, Conquered Hollywood, and Inven ted Modern Horror. Penguin. ISBN 1101516968. 
  7. ^ Muir, John (2002). Horror Films of the 1970s. McFarland. ISBN 0786491566.