Home Sweet Home: A Thanksgiving Horror Film Festival of One PT5

A Thanksgiving Horror Film Festival of One
Miss the beginning? Click here to start at part 1.

A group of oddly-gross 70s bros and attractive 80s chicks rent a cabin for Thanksgiving. Little do they know that the world’s buffest mental patient has escaped and is on the hunt.

And, just like that, we’re back. For this year I’m trying out 1981’s low budget Thanksgiving slasher, Home Sweet Home.

Home-Sweet-Home-1981
A buff asylum escapee that somehow quickly found PCP in a syringe and… ate it for some reason?

The premise of a two-hundred-pound-plus escape mental patient on PCP is not lost on me. But, the problem with these types of movies was their popularity.

The 70s and early 80s was the era of the manic. I’m sure I’ve covered this before, so I’ll be brief.

In 1974, Black Christmas was released in Canada. While the film’s plot was not necessarily new, it’s quick delivery and young cast put it in a new light. The following year it hit the states. It wasn’t a block buster, but the movie’s popularity surprised many; especially because it was made for $620,000 and earned $4.1 million.

Black Christmas 1974
1974’s seminal Canadian slasher, Black Christmas.

As much as it ushered in a genre, it expanded a concept. People can make big returns off of very cheap movies.

In 1978 the first Halloween came out. Made for $ 325,000 and earning $70 million, Halloween set the stage for many, many copycats. Following that, hundreds of these types movies were made.

I’ve seen so many of them that it’s gonna take a plot as good as a weightlifting PCP lunatic to keep me interested… and luckily, that’s what we have here.

Before I dig into my thoughts on it, I’ll just say it was tolerable.

If your used to this low level of filmmaking, you’ll do fine. If you feel that a movie made in the 80s, that looks like the 70s, and made with the skill of a 20 year-old gas station attendant isn’t for you… then neither is Home Sweet Home.

Home-Sweet-Home-1981
“Mistake” Bradley. Lame character. Cool name.

An issue movies of this era have, mostly the 70s, so this one must be behind its time, is them trying to incorporate music. Not like background music, but characters that are musicians.

It happened it Phantasm, it happened in Midnight, and it’s happening here. I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised when the characters started shutting the music down as well. I guess they felt the same way about 70s music being shoved into horror flicks in ’81 that I do now.

Another thing that surprises me about the era is, today we live in a day-and-age that appears to be trying to change certain beauty dynamics.

Home-Sweet-Home-1981
One of the gross ass dudes.

Nowadays they seem to be a little more willing to “match leagues”. But, as a husband that married way out of my league, I’m always intrigued by this in film. You see my wife is good looking and I’m fat and old. Its nice to see a cast that matches my dynamic. All these chicks are way to pretty for these gross-ass dudes, and the 80s misogyny on top of it is laughable.

Home-Sweet-Home-1981
Maria, medievally referred to as a spicy jalapeño.

And while were on the topic of the new world of wokeness, there is a Spanish woman (that they refer to as “Latin”) that doesn’t understand English. They also refer to her as a spicy jalapeno… So, if you have issue with the racist and misogynistic stuff that used to go on in movies, you might want to, you know, stay away from every bit of art created before the last 5 years.

Also, its hard to not notice hairstyles. I know I comment on hairstyles a lot in my takes, but Elvis Freaking Christ these are some gross hair cuts. I wont go into it other than the main girl has Jeanene’s exact haircut from This is Spinal Tap... to the point I had to look her up to verify it wasn’t the same woman.

Home-Sweet-Home-1981
Maria getting done in.

Acting wise (and by connection the writing too) is not all that bad… except for the psycho. Not sure if they just hadn’t figured out how psychos acted yet or if “Bodies by Jake” is just a terrible actor. Yes, you read me right. The actor playing the psycho is Jake Steinfeld, the man that went on to 80s exercise fame with the “Bodies by Jake” brand.

Home-Sweet-Home-1981
Bodies by Jake going Bat-kaka crazy!

The portrayal of the nutjob was weird. He cackled constantly. Like it was the only acting direction he was given. “Be buff, look crazy and laugh like a lunatic.” At times he was a deranged madman with no self control. Other times he was talking and holding a person hostage to set up the situation. There are many that would dump on this, but personally, I like to believe that it adds depth to the character… at least that’s what I tell myself.

Home-Sweet-Home-1981
“Mistake” Bradley being electrocuted.

As with many Thanksgiving movies, thanksgiving is not the central focus if the movie; its barely mentioned. But, to be fair, the holiday has had a tough time establishing its economic impact out side of the food industry. Christmas and Halloween are fairly well commercialized, but Thanksgiving just can’t seem to get a foot hold in any market. Maybe we need to start putting up orange and brown lights or dressing like sexy turkeys.

Home-Sweet-Home-1981
Vinessa Shaw. Many sources site Hocus Pocus as her first film but she was in Home Sweet Home and Ladybugs with Rodney Dangerfield prior.

While the art of character building may have been lost on the filmmakers, the need for character building was not. There is possibly too much character development. We don’t get to the first kill until about a third of the way in. But, once we get started the pace picks up.

So like I said before, if you are familiar with 16mm schlock horror flicks made on a shoe string budget, then you’ll get some enjoyment out of the flick. If you’ve never seen a film made as a side project to some drug addled cabin party, you might want to start somewhere else.

More on cogitations on 2005’s Boogeyman:

  • Home Sweet Home was also known as Slasher in the House.
  • Home Sweet Home was directed by Nettie Peña. I woman directing a slasher flick in the 80s? That’s right!
  • The girl from Hocus Pocus has a “scene stealing” role of… what appears to be eating an entire turkey under the dinner table.
  • If you found the original Stepfather, He Knows Your Alone, or The Love Butcher decent, you’ll find Home Sweet Home decent too. Also, if you found The Love Butcher decent then your name might be Jeremy, a friend of mine that named his kid Kaleb after that terrible flick.
  • The little girl has to be the most well behaved kid in the world, or she possibly has mono. She just sleeps through most of it.

Good night

Some more options I will be checking out in Thanksgivings to come:

  • Home Sweet Home (1981)
  • Séance (2021)
  • Black Friday (2021)
  • Pilgrim (2019)
  • Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County (1998)