Home for the Holidays (1972)

Well ‘tis the season , when I like to scatter a bit of tinsel among the body parts, and review a few of the festive horror favourites, that just don’t seem that appropriate to watch the other eleven months of the year. Horror and Christmas go together like turkey dinners and pent up familial resentment, but for some reason, this little sub category is still an acquired taste to many bloodthirsty fans. There’s definitely scope for some sick minded genius to turn the genre on its head though, because I really don’t think we’ve even begun to scratch the surface of just how nasty the names on the naughty list can get.

Home for the Holidays is a little made for TV cult favourite from the late Aaron Spelling’s former production company and penned by same screen writer as that little known Hitchcock film, Psycho, so you’d be right to start out with high expectations from the onset, and I doubt you’d be disappointed.

The Morgan girls have returned home for a particularly painful Christmas, summoned home by their hated father from his deathbed, who, may or may not be being poisoned by their Step Mother, who, in turn, may or may not be an evil serial killer. Throw in a pitchfork wielding killer, remote location, and a rising river, and you’ve got yourself the recipe for an excellent gothic style 70s chiller with a festive twist.

This film is a class act from opening scene to end credits, and is brilliantly performed by every cast member, which includes a very young Sally Field (yeah, I’m not entirely sure what else she’s been in to make her famous anyway, either.) as the youngest daughter Christine. Over the top and extremely bloodless admittedly, with a camera man that apparently had just discovered the joy of zoom, but it possesses a charm that is sadly, seldom seen in modern horror. The early slasher meets murder mystery approach makes a nice combination and despite the camp nature of the film, it manages to maintain a suspenseful, atmosphere with a definite spooky edge.

If you’re looking for the It’s a Wonderful Life of Yuletide Horror then look no further than this. It won’t make you look at life with rose tinted spectacles, but you’ll damn sure want to watch it every year from this moment forth.

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