Blast Radius

Black Christmas all year round

Town Crier Arts and Life Editor, Brian Baker
Town Crier Arts and Life Editor, Brian Baker

Apparently, the iconic Casa Loma isn’t the only filming location that sits comfortably atop South Hill, menacing cars and pedestrians from its perch.

In its hulking shadow, along the streets of Clarendon Crescent and Poplar Plains Road, are houses used as filming locations for Hollywood.

At 1 Clarendon Cres., the film Amelia shut down the street for a time. Over at 210 Poplar Plains Rd., the only modern-style home on the street is utilized quite often by crews.

I learn about these real homes used as sets from Nancy Nash, who lives in a famous Toronto movie house herself: Pi Kappa Sigma’s residence from the 1974 slasher flick, Black Christmas.

Now I know it’s not Halloween, and Christmas has come and gone, but horror is playing on the reels of my imagination year round. It should also be noted that Nash is the surname of one of the characters in the film.

So when I found out that the house in Black Christmas — directed by Porky’s Bob Clark and starring Olivia Hussey, Margot Kidder and Art Hindle — was in South Hill, I had to learn more.

The Nash family moved into 6 Clarendon Cres. seven years ago. Nancy, her husband and three kids purchased it from the Nadjafi family.

Still, Nancy Nash is quick to asphyxiate any suggestion that living in a home made famous by a cult slasher is neat.

“No,” she says, “it’s not kind of cool.

“There’s nothing interesting about that. I’m surprised people are still interested in the house, because it’s so old.”

Admittedly, my élan was gutted like a fish by that.

The house has changed its appearance both on the outside and inside, affirms Nash, and she’s candid with me, adding she found the Amelia Earhart film more fascinating than Black Christmas.

“If I happened to be a horror film lover or if I happened to have seen the movie or really liked it, then I would feel differently about it,” she admits.

But journalist and Faculty of Horror co-founder Alexandra West says the house holds a lot more than cheap scares and a more modern decor.

“I think more and more, now that we’re building more soundstages in Toronto, we’re getting away from seeing our city on the big screen, which we’ve kind of gotten used to,” she says. “It’s really great to have these locations that are omnipresent and always around us, so if you’re curious you can go look at them.”

Much like travelling to Bangor, Maine to see Stephen King’s abode, fans of the original Black Christmas come north of the border to scope out the grounds, as well as other former set pieces at the University of Toronto.

“I think one of the most important things, even though in Black Christmas they don’t identify the town or identify it as Canadian, it really features the Victorian architecture,” West notes. “They kind of feature that old architecture which is now disappearing from the city with condos and all these things that are emerging.

“It’s that great little time capsule.”

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