This is the high quality and scandalous TV movie I’m looking for every Tuesday. It’s a delightful slasher that fills many needs. It is even set at Christmas, which is that rare something we horror bloggers can’t get enough of, if only because we all review the same eight or so Christmas horror movies every Christmas.
Even rarer, the sheriff (Med Flory) takes the murderer away to jail at the end instead of the killer being beheaded, or running off into a mine screaming about how he or she will return, or, heaven help us, freeze-framing nude with unexpected genitalia and holding a severed head. What was I saying? Oh yes. Home For the Holidays is well acted and atmospheric, cold and rainy and filled with secrets. And, even though you didn’t know it, you always wanted to see Sally Field as the final girl in a slasher.
Benjamin Morgan (Walter Brennan) has summoned his four adult daughters of wildly varying ages home because he is on his deathbed. The four women have not been home for ten years, ever since their father drove their mother to suicide with his philandering. Now their father is married to the woman he was cheating on their mother with (spooky Julie Harris), and he believes his new wife is trying to poison him. And so do his daughters, since she supposedly poisoned her first husband many years ago.
So it’s tears, scene chewing, smart remarks, drinking, bleeding, screaming, and bitchery for Field and her TV sisters Jill Haworth, Eleanor Parker and the always creepy Jessica Walter. Yes, it’s your standard Aaron Spelling production, and it is glorious. And that’s before someone stabs Haworth to death with a pitchfork and leaves her outside in the mud. Which character decides he or she is Done Wit Dat Shit and kills almost everyone in the family? Who is responsible for the growing pile of bodies, and can the neighbor, Dr. Flirtatious Q. Exposition (John Fink), help before it is too late?
As a bonus, I have a new slasher rule for y’all. Don’t angrily leave a gathering in the middle of the night when you suspect there is a killer on the premises; you will only end up lying dead somewhere with nobody to know you’re even missing because they all believe you went home in a huff and will get in touch when you cool off. But at least you’ll be cooling off.