24 December 2014

Merry Christmas - with "HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS" (1972)


German Title:
Unter Mordverdacht

USA, 1972
Director: John Llewellyn Moxey


In 1972, two years before acclaimed director Bob Clark directed the proto-Holiday-slasher "Black Christmas" (IMO one of the most overrated horror movies of all time, and often wrongly termed as first Christmas-themed horror film ever),
TV god Aaron Spelling ("Charmed"), screenwriting legend Joseph Stefano ("Psycho I & IV") and prolific director John Llewellyn Moxey (who worked on more than 100 movies and TV series between 1947 and 1991!)
created one of the very first Christmas-themed horror films ever (next to semi-classic "Silent Night, Bloody Night" which was made the very same year): "Home for the Holidays", a made-for-TV whodunit mystery-horror, following four sisters, summoned home by their ill, unbeloved father who needs their help because he suspects his wife tries to poison him...

It's a shame how underrated, overlooked and forgotten this little gem is. It might not be as remarkable and quasi-groundbreaking as other TV horror classics like "Don't be Afraid of the Dark", "Trilogy of Terror" or "The Night Stalker", but it's definitely one that deserves much more popularity. "Home for the Holidays" is a very well developed, stunningly paced and excellently written little suspense-fest, packed with gripping tension and intriguing atmosphere. The ending is a bit too predictable and the epilogue is rather lame, but everything else about it
is just splendid.

Two-time Oscar winner Sally Field leads a terrific cast, consisting of horror legends like Julie Harris ("The Haunting") and Jill Haworth ("Tower of Evil"), television legend Jessica Walter ("Arrested Development") and Walter Brennan, one of only three men to win three acting Oscars! The kills are only mildly gory, but they're all pretty suspenseful, and due to the killer's look (yellow raincoat, red gloves), they feel a tad Giallo-esque. What makes the movie even more interesting is the fact that there's no snow, only rain, rain, rain. Originally, there was supposed to be snow, but the shooting schedule was too tight and the budget wasn't exactly high, so they replaced the snow with rain - a wise decision, The movie's atmosphere is so grim, so sinister, it wouldn't have been the same as with snow.

People who don't like the original "Black Christmas":
go check it out ASAP, you'll love it!
Fans of the original "Black Christmas":
you will enjoy this one a lot more than you actually expect!


  1. I hate to burst your bubble on the Holidays, but 'Tales From the Crypt' did Holiday Horror first. It came out in March 1972, while this one came out in November.

    Oh and 'Silent Night, Bloody Night' was also in November (at least in the U.S.).

    That's not a knock on the quality of this Film (which I don't think I've seen)- just a fact. So nanny-nanny-boo-boo.

    1. That's true, but as you might remember, I'm not much of a series-guy and totally focused on films, so in my world, it's SNBN & HFTH ;-)

    2. Well, Alec is referring to the Amicus movie Tales from the Crypt, not a series version.

    3. Oh! Well, I haven't seen that one yet.

  2. Funny thing about this movie is that I have it on my downloaded files and yet I never bothered seeing it FOR TWO YEARS!

    I guess I'm about to break that streak. It does look and sound promising. Guess I was too occupied on finding rarer slashers...

  3. Oh and Happy Holidays to you, too! 8)

  4. I haven't seen this one - but I think it might be on a bargain DVD set in the video vault - need to dig it up if so!

    1. I know you don't watch movies on YouTube, but... well, it's on YouTube! ;D


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