Sally Field

Unavailable on DVD but kicking around the bottom shelves of the horror section of many a dusty Mom & Pop video store, Home for the Holidays deserves another look after the distance of thirty-plus years.  Find a copy and show it to the whole family.  Just watch your back.

" /> Sally Field

Unavailable on DVD but kicking around the bottom shelves of the horror section of many a dusty Mom & Pop video store, Home for the Holidays deserves another look after the distance of thirty-plus years.  Find a copy and show it to the whole family.  Just watch your back.

" /> Sally Field

Unavailable on DVD but kicking around the bottom shelves of the horror section of many a dusty Mom & Pop video store, Home for the Holidays deserves another look after the distance of thirty-plus years.  Find a copy and show it to the whole family.  Just watch your back.

" />

A Cruel Yule: Home for the Holidays (1972)

Happy December!  This is the big month, time of Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa.  It’s a festival of lights, a time of prayer and warmth, of giving and receiving, of merriment and folderol.  As much as I love the season, the songs and the movies (drop me in front of It’s a Wonderful Life and I’ll weep from the moment young Mary says “George Bailey, I’ll love you ‘til the day I die” right up to George’s triumphant “Atta boy, Clarence”), I know there are some who, swamped in the commercial tangle of plastic holly and icicle lights, don’t or can’t make merry.  It is for these tender souls that I present an ongoing series through the Yuletide—A Cruel Yule—a celebration of movies that lift up Santa’s red velvet to reveal the dark underbelly of Christmas.  I invite my fellow Morlocks to join me in the weeks to come and offer up their own candidates…

Home for the HolidaysLet’s begin with Home for the Holidays (1972).  Not to be confused with the 1995 Jodie Foster comedy or the 2005 Lifetime movie of the same name, this HFTH was a bitter pill forced down the throat of American TV audiences way back during the Christmas season of 1972.    Scripted by Psycho (1960) scenarist Joseph Stefano and directed by John Llewellyn Moxey (who had scored a ratings juggernaut with The Night Stalker in January of that year), Home for the Holidays attends the pained (and at times bloody) family reunion of bedridden patriarch Walter Brennan, apoplectic rich guy and father of four girls in various states of dishabille.  While tightly-sound eldest sibling Eleanor Parker (Eye of the Cat, 1969) attempts to make the season light, bitter alcoholic Jessica Walter (Play Misty for Me, 1971) blurts out inappropriate-isms and slutty Jill Haworth (The Haunted House of Horror, 1969) tries to quit the party early.  Only baby of the family Sally Field (Sybil, 1976) has the holiday spirit… even as a slicker-clad maniac takes a pitchfork to one sister and drowns another in her bathtub.  Also on hand is Julie Harris (The Haunting, 1963) as Brennan’s current wife, whom he suspects of poisoning him with her notorious hot toddies.

Pretty maidsShot near Hollywood, Home for the Holidays is short on snow and is instead set during a drab, rainy Yuletide.  (Haven’t we all suffered through those?)  In one of his last film roles, Walter Brennan is infectiously dyspeptic and the female protagonists are all engagingly bitchy.  Too much time is wasted on the non-love story of virgin Sally Field and boring nice guy doctor John Fink (forgotten star of the 1973 NBC-TV movie Topper Returns) but the peregrinations of the faceless killer in the shiny yellow mack give this modestly-budgeted telefilm the grim, unsettling feel of an Italian giallo thriller… and a climax that leaves considerably fewer creatures stirring than when the whole thing started.

Unavailable on DVD but kicking around the bottom shelves of the horror section of many a dusty Mom & Pop video store, Home for the Holidays deserves another look after the distance of thirty-plus years.  Find a copy and show it to the whole family.  Just watch your back.

4 Responses A Cruel Yule: Home for the Holidays (1972)
Posted By mary : December 2, 2006 10:10 pm

Wasn't  You'll Love My Mother  a morbid Christmas offering? It was definitely winter, anyway. Richard Thomas, Patty Duke, Sian B. Allan, Rosemary Harris?

Posted By mary : December 2, 2006 10:10 pm

Wasn't  You'll Love My Mother  a morbid Christmas offering? It was definitely winter, anyway. Richard Thomas, Patty Duke, Sian B. Allan, Rosemary Harris?

Posted By JLO : December 3, 2006 1:55 am

<a href="javascript:alert('WTF!');">click me</a>

Posted By JLO : December 3, 2006 1:55 am

<a href="javascript:alert('WTF!');">click me</a>

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