Phew, I say! Phew! My losing streak has been broken! Finally, today I was crying tears of joy instead of pain and rage. I scored a copy of the rare treat Home for the Holidays on eBay, watched it, and now my sanity is restored. It's just amazing what happens when you combine good acting, good writing, and good directing. You know what happens? Ready for this? You get... a good movie! Wow, go figure! This 1972 made-for-TV slasher /thriller is better than most of the junk you get in theatres nowadays, and it's certainly better than anything I've watched in the last few weeks. Ugh...everytime I use the term "nowadays" I start to feel like that boring old person who talks about ten-cent loaves of bread ad nauseum. But I can't help it! And another thing! Why is it that in the 1970s we were treated to made-for-tv flicks like Home for the Holidays and Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, while today we get mostly heartwarming wuv stories starring people like Matthew Perry? Where's the scary, dammit? Look at that box! A shadowy figure in a rain slicker! A pitchfork! A floating Sally Field head! All in a movie set during Christmas! What's the matter with you, modern made-for-TV movies? Where's the scary? And why is bread so damn expensive?!
OK, I'm better now. Like I said, this movie has a lot going for it right off the bat. It's written by Joseph Stefano, the man behind the screenplay for this other movie you may know called Psycho. The cast includes veteran actor Walter Brennan (in one of his final roles), Jessica Walter (the crazed Clint Eastwood fan in Play Misty For Me), a pre-Norma Rae Sally Field, and the inimitable Julie Harris of The Haunting. Directing this strong group is TV-horror vet John Llewellyn Moxey...and if all those names aren't enough to give this flick the street cred it deserves, then how about these two little words: Aaron. Spelling. Yes, when I saw his name pop up as executive producer, I just sat back and relaxed, knowing I was in for a good time. Yes, the mighty he of Dynasty, Models Inc., TJ Hooker, Home For the Holidays, and Tori Spelling. Is there anything Aaron Spelling can't do?
Brennan stars as Benjamin Morgan, a mean old coot who beckons his four daughters home after their nine-year abscence. He's convinced that his current wife Elizabeth (Harris) is slowly poisoning him to death. Elizabeth's first husband died under mysterious circumstances, and Benjamin wants his girls to do away with her before she does away with him. Nice, eh? Welcome home, girls!
When the rain falls hard for days on end, the roads are washed out, the phones don't work, and everyone is trapped in the sprawling house, surrounded by woods. Before long, a figure in a yellow rain slicker begins to pick off the Morgan sisters one by one. Is it Elizabeth? Is she really a Black Widow, or is Benjamin imagining everything?
You think I'm gonna tell you here? I'm not! This movie is hard to find and it took me quite a while to get a copy, but it was well worth the wait. Harris carries the movie with a great performance all the way through. Hey, maybe some nerd out there will start an internet petition to get this released on DVD, who knows. Until then, get your Murder She Wrote on and track it down! I give it 8-and-a-half out of 10 "now that's how it's done!"s.
I'm glad this movie rocked so hard. I'm headed out of town for the weekend, and I'd hate to leave you on a bad note. You kids behave while I'm gone, and I'll see you Monday!