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Home for the Holidays (1972)

TV Movie  |   |  Drama, Horror, Mystery  |  28 November 1972 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 350 users  
Reviews: 24 user | 18 critic

An ailing man summons his four daughters home for Christmas and asks them to kill his new wife, who he suspects is poisoning him.


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Title: Home for the Holidays (TV Movie 1972)

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Cast overview:
Frederica Morgan
Joanna Morgan
Elizabeth Hall Morgan
Alex Morgan
Benjamin Morgan
John Fink ...
Doctor Ted Lindsay
Med Flory ...
Sheriff Nolan


Four sisters reluctantly return home to the country to visit there ailing, embittered father over Christmas. Their father believes that his current wife has tried to poison him, but Dr. Lindsay, the local physician, and the sisters disagree. Then a storm causes the roads to be flooded and the telephone lines to not work. Soon it becomes clear that someone wants to kill the family, as well, when one of them is found murdered. One sister then tries to run through the woods one day to reach Sheriff Nolan for help. But she has her own encounter, as she sees someone chasing her while dressed in a large poncho carrying the pitchfork. She returns home, only to discover more murders. The prime suspect becomes father's wife, but was it someone else? Written by <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


There's nothing more chilling... Than a warm family gathering!





Release Date:

28 November 1972 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Deadly Desires  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Because of its tight shooting schedule and low budget the film couldn't afford to have snow created for the exterior scenes. Instead it was opted to have rain outside through out the film for a more moody atmosphere. A fire hose had to be used to create the rain for the outdoor scenes, which is why in some shots the sky is obviously clear even though it suppose to be raining. See more »


When Dr. Lindsay drives up it is raining but it is not cloudy. See more »


References Psycho (1960) See more »

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User Reviews

Old-Fashioned Murder Mystery At Christmastime.
2 April 2007 | by (Portland, Oregon, USA) – See all my reviews

"Home For The Holidays", originally a made-for-television horror movie, is a neat little horror mystery that came a little before it's time. The plot centers around the Morgan family. Benjamin Morgan (Walter Brennan), an dying man, summons his four estranged daughters back home on Christmas Eve. The sisters include Alex (Eleanor Parker), the oldest of the group who is already staying at her father's house; Frederica (Jessica Walter, of "Play Misty For Me"), a pill-popping alcoholic who blames her father for their mother's suicide; Joanna (Jill Haworth), a somewhat stuck-up party girl; and Christine (Sally Field), the innocent one, and the youngest of the family. When the girls arrive, their father reveals to them that his current wife, Elizabeth (Julie Harris, of "The Haunting"), who was suspected of her previous husband's death, is poisoning him slowly, and that he essentially wants his daughters to murder her. But it seems that the Morgan sisters have a surprise visitor - and it's not Santa Claus. A pitchfork wielding maniac in a rain slicker begins to stalk and murder the sisters - but who could it be? With the phones dead and the roads washed out due to a heavy rainstorm, the sisters are trapped there while the unseen killer begins to pick them off one by one.

I was really surprised at how good this film turned out to be. Originally aired on ABC in late November 1972, "Home For The Holidays" is a solid and suspenseful little made-for-TV movie. Probably the very first holiday-horror film, this one predates "Black Christmas" and all the other Christmas-set horror films that followed. The story is absolutely wonderful. Not only is it original (especially if you consider the time it was written), but it also provides a good amount of shocks and some great mysteries for the audience to try and solve themselves, along with a solid sustainment of suspense. It's no surprise that the writing is so good though, considering the film was written by Joseph Stefano, who wrote Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 film classic, "Psycho". The script is excellent and there are some great horror set-ups (including a pretty lengthy chase scene with Sally Field through the woods), plus some nice plot twists that will keep you guessing.

The cast is made up of mostly female actresses, and they really are all great. Sally Field pulls off the innocent youngster of the girls (and the main heroine) well - her performing skills were wonderful, even in her early career. The great Julie Harris plays the mysterious, 'wicked stepmother', and does it precisely. We aren't sure if we should consider her a suspect or not, although quite a few things are pointing in her direction. Jessica Walter is the frantic, pill-popping sister who resents her father, and is also very good. All in all, the cast is great, and there are very few corny moments. Atmosphere is a big part of this film as well. The setting is a secluded mansion, perfect place to set a murder mystery. While the film takes place during Christmas, there are rainstorms rather than snowstorms - a bit of an edgy but nice decision from the filmmakers, the thunder and lightning add to the spookiness. The only real holiday scenery that we get is a grand Christmas tree in the center of the coiling staircase, and a wreathe on the front door - like in "Black Christmas", it is obvious that it is Christmastime, but the theme isn't too overdone. There are a couple of murders in the film, but keeping in mind that this was a television film, there is very little in the way of violence - not that it's a bad thing, this film is creepy enough without showing too much. The suspense factor is really the kicker for this one.

Overall, "Home For The Holidays" is a good old-fashioned murder mystery set during Christmas. It's suspenseful, spooky, and really well-written (plus the cast is really excellent as well). If you enjoy old fashioned murder/mystery films (and would be interested in seeing a young Sally Field chased by a pitchfork-wielding murderer), this one will keep you guessing the killer's identity until the final revelation. If you can manage to get a hold of the out-of-print VHS, I'd really recommend it. This holiday horror film is worth a look. 8/10.

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