Where in the Horror are they Now? Black Christmas Star Olivia Hussey!

Last Updated on August 5, 2021

OLIVIA HUSSEY

THEN:
It’s the holiday season once again. Stockings are hung with care and Christmas lights twinkle and shine in the cold winter’s night. And for many a horror fan, we all return to that crazed obscene phone calling psycho hiding out in a sorority house in the classic chiller BLACK CHRISTMAS. Released in 1974, the horror feature helped introduce many of the genre tropes that we see today. It even followed the “final girl” path and thankfully, that lovely survivor happened to be the luminous Olivia Hussey. Now before I return to that seminal X-mas time classic, I began to wonder what on earth Ms. Hussey was up to nowadays.

The first time I discovered Olivia Hussey was in Franco Zeffirelli classic ROMEO AND JULIET (1968). The young actress was chosen reportedly over 500 other actresses. The young Argentinian born talent shined opposite her love-struck Romeo (co-star Leonard Whiting) in what is arguably one of the best Shakespearean adaptations every put to screen. Now I know this is a long ways from horror, but it is impossible to not talk about this film as it left a lasting impression on me. I was in grade school when the teacher showed us the film – putting a notebook over the screen during the nude scenes – and she undeniably became a serious crush for my thirteen-year-old self.

After winning acclaim and a Golden Globe award for Most Promising Newcomer – Female, the actress appeared in a couple of vastly different flicks. This included SUMMERTIME KILLER in 1972 which was a revenge action drama. After that she starred in the musical drama LOST HORIZON in 1973. According to that particular film’s trailer, it is “The Musical Adventure that Will Live Forever.” While it seemingly didn’t do what the advertising claimed, it looks like a must watch for fans of Seventies cinema. Something about that decade still excites me, especially catching odd little flicks like these. Good or bad, the “groovier” they are the better.

In 1974, future PORKY’S (1982) and A CHRISTMAS STORY (1983) director, Bob Clark gave audiences a glorious genre present with BLACK CHRISTMAS. This Independent Canadian shocker was the predecessor to John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN as well as FRIDAY THE 13th. I first discovered this gem on video because I thought the cover art was cool. Yet with my first of many viewings, my adoration for Olivia Hussey grew. The thing about her character Jess that is interesting is that she is far from a “good girl.” After all, one of the sub-plots in this terrifying tale is that she is pregnant and wants to get an abortion. This horror feature was groundbreaking in many ways, and it helped that the lovely lead actress seemed to be a whole lot more intriguing than a by-the-numbers virginal heroine.

After BLACK CHRISTMAS, the actress took some time off from horror. She appeared as the Virgin Mary in the TV mini-series “Jesus of Nazareth” in 1977 and in an Agatha Christie adaptation of DEATH ON THE NILE in 1978. It wasn’t until the Eighties where she returned to a couple of genre flicks including DAY OF RESURRECTION in 1980 and ESCAPE 2000 in 1982. If you ever get the chance, it is worth watching the “Mystery Science Theatre 3000” episode featuring the b-movie extravaganza ESCAPE 2000. Now between cheesy horror, television mini-series events and small budget features, this beautiful actress worked consistently.

One particular year found Ms. Hussey involved in two genre projects. One was an adaptation of a Stephen King novel and the other, a role that will always be very familiar to horror audiences. In 1990, she appeared in the television mini-series “It” as Audra Denbrough, and in PSYCHO IV: THE BEGINNING, where she took on Norma Bates. While both projects had their detractors, it was fantastic to see her take on some scary stuff once again. And thankfully, it was a path she continued to travel with flicks like ICE CREAM MAN in 1995, HEADSPACE in 2005 as well as the television movie “Dead Man’s Island” in 1996. This particular made for television flick featured a ton of small screen personalities including Barbara Eden, William Shatner, Morgan Fairchild and David Faustino. It even featured Traci Lords, so how do you like them apples?

NOW:
One thing is for sure, Ms. Hussey has an exquisite voice. When she speaks with that soft, yet provocative English accent, I am fully taken in. So it is no wonder that over the past few years she has voiced characters in a fantasy feature called THE DARK MIST (1996), as well as the animated series “Pinky and the Brain”, “Superman”, “Batman Beyond”, plus a few “Star Wars” video games. This includes the recent “Star Wars: The Old Republic” from 2011.

According to Olivia’s IMDB page, she has a few projects in the works. ONE WEEK IN HOLLYWOOD is a satire also featuring her daughter, India Eisley and Billy Worth. In SOCIAL SUICIDE she is scheduled to star opposite her ROMEO AND JULIET co-star, Mr. Whiting – this romantic thriller also happens to be based on the Bard’s tragic play. Once again, she and her daughter will share screen time. And in 1066, a historic action adventure, she is listed as a character named Countess Gytha. And while none of these projects are super genre-centric, horror seems to be something she makes a return to.

As an early fan of Olivia Hussey, it is good to see her continue to work. It would be nice to see a modern horror director cast her in something a little more mainstream, just so I could relive my childhood crush. If you are a fan, or would like to know more about the actress, you can check out her official website. You can also look for her on Facebook and Twitter. Not only is she a stunning actress, but she is an animal rights activist, and she lends her vocal talents to geek celebratory animation. Looking for a great holiday flick? I can’t think of a better way to spend Christmas this year than revisiting the original BLACK CHRISTMAS.

Source: Arrow in the Head

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JimmyO is one of JoBlo.com’s longest-tenured writers, with him reviewing movies and interviewing celebrities since 2007 as the site’s Los Angeles correspondent.