Home For The Holidays was recommended to me by the Hysteria Continues Podcast.
This is a great little TV movie from 1972 starring a fresh off the Flying Nun Sally Field and the always amazing Walter Brennan in his second to last film role. Eerie choice as the character he plays is a man on his death bed.
Story starts with Benjamin Morgan calling his four daughters “home for the holidays”.
Apparently all have very little love for their crass and unapologetic father.
He’s called them all home not just because he’s dying but, he mentions, none of them would have come if he was dying of natural causes. He informs them he thinks his new wife, Elizabeth, is poisoning him.
He requests that all four figure out how to kill his wife before she kills him.
Benjamin is a surly and entertaining character.
I can see why the girls hate him.
He calls them all out for what they are: floozies, drug addicts etc.
He’s filled with snake tongued insults and razor sharp wit.
I liked him a lot.
As I said, weird that Brennan is playing a dying man as he died a couple of years after this one.
He looks ck in it.
Although the girls hate their father they’ve decided to grant him his dying request and they plot to kill Elizabeth played to conniving perfection by Julie Harris.
As time goes the girls start trying to feel out Elizabeth.
After a brief encounter with Sally Field, it’s hard to tell if Elizabeth is genuine and not guilty or actually plotting the kill.
Even at the end of the scene you can see Elizabeth is almost crying yet has a glimmer of a smile happening.
For sure Elizabeth is aware something is up and that the girl’s aren’t just there for Christmas.
Another strike against Elizabeth is the fact that her ex-husband had been poisoned.
Apparently on the night of his death, only Elizabeth and he were present.
Acquitted of murder, Elizabeth moved on with her life as told to the girls one night over diner.
Daughter Frederica is a known pill and alcohol abuser.
After the supper, shrieks and screams from Freddy draw the sters and Elizabeth where Freddy makes drunken accusations against Elizabeth.
Again, is Elizabeth the bad one or are the daughters just breaking down after living torrid lives themselves?
One of the sters, Joanna, decides to up and leave as she has no interest in her father living or dying and by what way.
After leaving the house and trying to enter her car, Joanna is approached by someone wearing rain gear and receives and back stab with a pitchfork.
From the small frame of the killer you instantly assume it’s Elizabeth.
Hard to tell from what we saw.
This is starting to have a Giallo-ish feel and…. I’m hooked.
All that’s misng is black gloves.
Another character seen earlier is Ted, a family friend not seen in years by the sters.
He shows up after the first kill and is posbly the killer or a typical “red herring”.
When Elizabeth sees Ted, she seems extremely put off.
Ted is a doctor so I assume he’s going to play a role in deciding if Benjamin is being poisoned or not although he was invited there by Elizabeth so fuck knows where that’s going.
Alex, one of if not the oldest sters, is always hovering around her father and is constantly spouting randomness to Sally Field.
I’m calling it right goddamn now…. Alex is the killer.
So there’s a scene where the drug/drug addict ster, Freddy, is in the tub and although they weren’t black but orange, the giallo gloves came into play.
Only thing really lacking is the weather.
It looks like a place that would have lots of snow in the winter, not excesve rain.
The mood of Christmas time (or whatever the fuck you celebrate that time of year) would have been set so much more effective had it of been snow.
There’s a scene where Sally Field is fleeing through the woods and ends up being chased by the killer.
Had it have been shot in snow, it would have stood out so much more.
Don’t get me wrong, I dig the rain in horror like Charles Bronson digs tunnels in The GreatEscape (1963) (Thanks Mr Tarantino for that comparison I’ve been ung for almost 20 years) but with the theme of Christmas, it needs snow.
Anyway, I won’t give away the entire movie as it’s a really great little flick and it deserves to be watched.
I will say that Sally Field, for the most part, plays the final girl and I have to say, I enjoyed Field in this role.
It’s actually too bad she didn’t dabble in the genre a bit more.
I was going to say she would have had a good career but I guess winning an Oscar and stuff was “successful” for her too or whatever…
TV audiences today are seriously in need of mple yet effective TV movies like these.
The endless dreg we have to put up with now make me boil over and nge the hair off my balls.
The movies from this time period were short, atmospheric, effective and creative.
Today, we just get things like the intentionally shitty SyFy channel garbage or poorly acted dramas recreating some real life scenario that no one cares about.
Fuck, even Murder She Wrote was more risqué and interesting than the shit I see now that passes as a TV movie.
A Tight and effective little Christmas , TV horror flick that TV execs now a days should be shown
6/10 – Nothing amazing but a passable job.
Performances: 9/10 – Sally Field could have been a scream queen, Julie Harris was deceptively effective,
Eleanor Parker was manic and Walter Brennan plays the asshole father perfectly.
Effects: 7/10 – There wasn’t much but what was there didn’t look awful.
Script: 6/10 – Nothing too original but it worked.
Pacing: 8/10 – Fast as were most of these 70’s TV movies.
They all clock in at roughly 74 minutes.
Fun Factor: 8/10 – Had a blast.
Overall 7.3 / 10