There’s a story circulating among slasher fans that goes a little something like this: Bob Clark took this young guy named John Carpenter under his wing to help show him how to direct feature films. While serving as an apprentice, Carpenter learned Clark was working on sequel to Black Christmas called Halloween. A few years later, Carpenter stole Clark’s Halloween concept and created the modern slasher film. At least some parts of this slasher urban legend are true. Carpenter was associated with Clark at one time and Clark had an idea for a film called Halloween that would’ve featured the return of the killer from Black Christmas. But when asked about the connections between his holiday slasher and Carpenter’s classic, Clark claimed Carpenter never stole anything from him. Whether the story is true or not, it sheds light on how Bob Clark is seen by some as a major influence on the slasher genre.
Another contribution to the slasher genre can be found in Clark’s ultra creepy Deathdream (AKA Dead of Night). This underrated fright flick shot in Florida just happens to be Tom Savini’s first film. Clark liked Savini’s work so much that he kept him around for Deranged, a film Clark produced for his friend Alan Ormsby. Savini went on to become the sultan of slash and splatter after working with George Romero and Sean Cunningham. But Bob Clark gave Savini his start in horror films. Blue Underground’s Deathdream dvd contains a brief interview with Savini who shares his memories about working with Clark.
Popcorn is a favorite here at Retro Slashers, but the production was so troubled that it destroyed the friendship between Clark and Alan Ormsby. Bob Clark produced the film and was forced to fire Ormsby three weeks into filming after the financial backers got nervous. Mark Herrier, who’d acted for Clark in Porky’s, was brought in to finish the film because Clark thought the actor could handle the responsibility. Despite some flaws, Popcorn is still an entertaining entry in the genre Clark influenced with Black Christmas.
If you would like to see some of Bob Clark’s non-genre films, then check out Fox Movie Channel. FMC usually plays Porky’s, Porky’s II, Turk 182, or Rhinestone several times a year. Hell, it seems like Porky’s is shown several times every month. A Christmas Story airs for 24 straight hours on TBS every Christmas. If you’re in the mood for high camp, hippies, and re-animated corpses, then check out Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things. But if your in the mood for a double dose of goosebumps, then I suggest you watch Deathdream and Black Christmas back to back.
As for Bob Clark’s version of Halloween, one can only wonder at what horrors might’ve been unleashed on the silver screen if Clark had completed the project. Clark’s notes might be lost, but I like to think a rough draft or an outline for a script is sitting in a draw or an old box just waiting to be discovered. Right now Clark’s Halloween has to be considered a really lost slasher. In a few years, who knows. Maybe one day Clark’s story will see the light of day.