Wilford Butler returns home on Christmas Eve and his house had been turned into a mental institution for the criminally insane. But the day of his return, he is set on fire and dies. The towns people believe his death was an accident, and the institution-house is later closed down. Wilford leaves the house to his grandson Jeffrey. A few years later, Jeffrey finally decides to sell this grandfather's house, but the towns people including the Mayor have mixed feelings on keeping people away from the house, especially when a serial killer escapes from another institution and finds refuge there. The killer makes frightening phone calls and kills anyone coming near the house. But what does the killer have in common with what happened to Wilford Butler years before? Written by
Filmed in 1970 as "Night Of The Dark Full Moon" (from Famous Monsters #190 John Carradine retrospective Part III). See more »
Main character Jeffrey Butler is riding with John Carradine, who plays Towman. Butler and Carradine have decided to go out to the Butler house to see what is going on. Instead, Towman pulls into the drive of another house, and Jeffrey Butler says, "Towman this isn't my house, it's Tess'. Tess is another of the townspeople, and it is her house, but Jeffrey would not have known that because he has never been to the town before. See more »
Low-budget horror almost seems too kind a way to describe this movie which sometimes seems like it was shot with someone's home movie camera! Still, the film has a certain flair and an ambitious (overly-ambitious) story that gives it enough quality to remain memorable. The story revolves around a house that has lain abandoned for many years. In a fairly creepy prologue, the owner is shown running from the house in flames, screaming till his death. Cut to present day where slick realtor O'Neal and his sexy lover Heeren come to town to finalize the sale of the house to the town elders. The buyers are a dour, somewhat disturbing bunch who add to the creepiness of the opening scenes. Oh...and also there's an escaped mental patient on the loose who is killing his way back to town! Coinciding with all this is a visit from Patterson, the grandson of the home's original owner. He carries on a tenuous encounter with Woronov, the mayor's daughter. If the plot sounds confusing and convoluted, it is. But it's all finally explained in the finale which includes a truly horrific flashback to the days when the house was occupied. This sepia-toned memory is filled with scary-looking people (some of them Warhol groupies) who are filmed in a way that blurs their features and resembles the earliest camera work ever done. This is an unsettling effect that lifts the film above many other paper thin shockers. The acting is surprisingly good throughout, with several of the actors having had Broadway experience (Patterson was a Tony winner!) Though the story isn't always easy to follow and it's edited with a chainsaw, a certain level of uneasiness comes through. Aiding this quite a bit is a truly mundane, yet terrifying voice that's heard many times over the telephone. The film makers definitely tried to make an arresting picture. The opening credits are professionally done, the music is disturbing and the actors (some of them well known---Abel played D'Artagnon!!) do their best. There's even a pretty shocking twist about one third of the way in. Only the bare bones production values keep the movie from reaching a level of quality. Still, the dank lighting and blurry location work help add to the overall frightening tone. Woronov plays one of her most "normal" roles. For some reason, this film slammed the lid on Heeren's career. While she is no Meryl Streep, she was decorative and had a bright presence. Christmas has little to do with the plot. The film steals from some earlier shockers, yet was also stolen from itself in later flicks.
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