|Home for the Holidays|
|Written by||Joseph Stefano|
|Directed by||John Llewellyn Moxey|
|Music by||George Tipton|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Executive producers||Aaron Spelling|
|Producer||Paul Junger Witt|
|Production locations||20th Century Fox Ranch, Malibu Creek State Park - 1925 Las Virgenes Road, Calabasas, California|
20th Century Fox Studios - 10201 Pico Blvd., Century City, Los Angeles, California
|Cinematography||Leonard J. South|
|Running time||74 minutes|
|Production companies||ABC Circle Films|
|Distributor||Sony Pictures Television|
Home for the Holidays is a 1972 American made-for-television slasher film directed by John Llewellyn Moxey, produced by Aaron Spelling and starring Sally Field, Eleanor Parker, Julie Harris, Jessica Walter and Walter Brennan which premiered on ABC on November 28, 1972. The plot focuses on a wealthy father on his deathbed who invites his four daughters home for Christmas and tells them he suspects his second wife of poisoning him. Shortly after, the girls learn that their stepmother was accused of killing her first husband, and they begin to fall prey to a killer dressed in a yellow rain slicker.
The film opens in an enormous house where wealthy Benjamin Morgan is talking to his eldest daughter, Alex. He believes his wife, Elizabeth, is trying to poison him. Alex believes him. Morgan then sends Alex off to pick up her three sisters. While Alex is driving, she stops and asks her father's doctor, Ted Lindsay, for directions. He gives them to her and comments on the fact that the daughters haven't returned home since their mother committed suicide five years earlier.
Later that night, Alex returns with her three sisters, Frederica a.k.a. Freddie, Joanna, and Christine. They park inside the barn. Once inside the house, they meet their stepmother, Elizabeth. Their father then calls them to his room, where he urges the sisters to kill Elizabeth before she kills them. Elizabeth, meanwhile, has gone outside in the rain to get something from the barn. She then comes back to the confused sisters and shows them all their rooms before making dinner. Joanna wants to leave, while Freddie begins drinking and taking anti-depressants. Christine goes downstairs to make coffee for Freddie and finds Elizabeth making tea. Christine then notices Elizabeth's yellow rain slicker, gloves, and boots by the door. Christine brings Freddie the coffee, but she doesn't want it, preferring the vodka and other alcoholic beverages she has brought; she also talks about their mother and how she never should have died.
Elizabeth finishes making dinner and calls the girls to come down; but before they can eat, Joanna bombards Elizabeth with questions about her first husband's death, accusing her of murder. Elizabeth silences her and tells Joanna to watch her mouth or something may happen, when suddenly Freddie screams upstairs. The sisters run upstairs and find Freddie in their mother's old room, clutching a glass of vodka, and holding a piece of glass that is cutting into her hand. She is drunk and crying, pointing out a portrait of their mother and blaming their father for her suicide, informing them of his many affairs with different women. As they put Freddie to bed, Alex accuses Elizabeth of unlocking the door to the room on purpose.
Later that night, the storm picks up and Joanna informs Alex that she isn't going to stay, asking for Alex's car keys to drive to the railroad station so she can go home. Alex tries to get her to stay, but she refuses, taking Alex's keys and wishing Christine and Freddie goodbye, telling them to give their father an excuse for her departure. When she goes to her car in the barn, she becomes the victim of a figure in a yellow rain slicker, gloves, and boots; she is stabbed in the back with a pitchfork, falling into the mud. Inside, Elizabeth is making milk and honey for Freddie to help her sleep, when Christine comes into the kitchen, once again refusing the drink. Elizabeth then goes to give Freddie the drink, while Alex watches from their father's room. Freddie won't accept the milk and honey, but keeps drinking alcohol instead, eventually climbing into the bathtub for a bath and passing out. All of a sudden, the same intruder that killed Joanna grabs Freddie's feet and pulls her underwater, where she drowns.
The next morning, Christmas Day, Dr. Ted Lindsay shows up at the house, informing Christine that the roads are washed out from the storm, and that he will be popping in and out for a couple of days. Christine then finds Freddie's body and screams, bringing the others into the bathroom, where once again Alex accuses Elizabeth of poisoning the drink she brought for Freddie. Elizabeth informs her that Freddie denied it, and that she drank it herself, and tells them that Freddie had some pills out on the dresser. Benjamin calls up to find out what happened, and Elizabeth informs him that Freddie committed suicide or accidentally drowned, while Christine and Alex put Freddie's body in her bed, before calling the police. Christine goes to call the police only to find that the phone is dead, and realizes that Joanna has the car and they're all trapped in the house. She then decides to go out through the woods to a neighbor's house, and informs Alex, telling her not to tell Elizabeth. Upon traveling through the woods to find the house, Christine notices she's being followed, she starts to panic, and begins running. All the while being chased by the murderer in the yellow slicker, gloves, and boots carrying a pitchfork. She becomes lost and manages to hide beneath a log, watching the killer leave, and making a run for it.
Night has now fallen, and the rain is beginning to slow, and Alex is inside Benjamin's room, spotting Elizabeth walking outside with a yellow slicker on. Christine finally makes it to the house covered in mud, and notices that the car is still inside the barn, she goes over to it, and trips over Joanna's dead body half buried in mud. Elizabeth then appears, telling her to come with her, making her scream and run inside the house, where she locks the door, and finding Benjamin's dead body in his bed. Elizabeth then goes to the cellar doors, and crawls inside, going up to the house door, while Christine screams for Alex to come out and escape with her. Elizabeth finally opens the door, and Christine climbs inside a mirrored cabinet, listening as Elizabeth tells her to come out from hiding and leave with her. She then goes outside to find her, and Christine bursts through the front door to get help, running down the road to seek safety. While running from the house, Christine flags down a passing car, occupied by Alex. She tries to tell Alex that everyone is dead and that Elizabeth is the killer, but Alex then informs her that she was actually the killer, and was going to frame Elizabeth. She couldn't deal with the past, so she decided to forget it, by getting rid of her father and sisters, and since Christine was the last one left, she had to die too. She then hits Christine with a tire iron, sending her headfirst down a steep ravine filled with rocks and sticks, looking down and seeing her body crumpled into a heap. Ted then drives by and Alex quickly tells him that Elizabeth went insane and killed everyone, including Christine who went off into the woods. Ted then drives to the house, while Alex drives to the police station, bringing the cops back to the house the next morning. Once she gets there, she tells them where the three bodies are, and goes inside, finding out that they found Christine. She goes into her room, and thinks that Christine is dead, until she opens her eyes, then Alex snaps, laughing hysterically, and is dragged away by the police. All the while Christine watches, crying, from her bedroom, eventually letting Ted take her to the airport, leaving Elizabeth alone to the Morgan farmhouse.
The film debuted on the American Broadcasting Company on November 28, 1972 as part of the ABC Movie of the Week series.
The film was released on DVD by Echo Bridge Home Entertainment on May 7, 2013 as a part of its "8 Midnight Horror Movies" pack. Echo Bridge later re-released the film on September 9, 2014 and on June 23, 2015.
Justin Kerswell from Hysteria Lives! awarded the film 4/5 stars, writing, "Perhaps the film sails too close to soap opera histrionics at times... However, the performances are roundly so good that this doesn't matter, plus the story just keeps twisting and turning." Brett Gallman from Oh, the Horror! wrote, "Unfolding like a film adaptation of an Agatha Christie play, Home For the Holidays often feels stagebound and hemmed up; if not for beating the “Christmas horrors” out of the gate, I suspect it may be even more obscure than it already is, despite all of the talent involved. As it stands, it's a movie you'll probably hear about this time every year when horror fans begin to discuss the holiday-tinged offerings, and this is one of the last courses you'll ever need to digest."