Director: Robert Zemeckis
Writer: Fred Dekker
Cast: John Kassir, Mary Ellen Trainor, Larry Drake, Marshall Bell, and Lindsay Whitney Barry
Composer: Alan Silvestri
Air Date: 6/10/1989
After killing her husband Joseph (Marshall Bell) on Christmas Eve, a greedy housewife (Mary Ellen Trainor) receives a visit from “Santa Claus” (Larry Drake)—the alias of an escaped mental patient with a violent history. Despite framing Santa for Joseph’s murder, the wife must protect her daughter until the police arrive—with a horrible twist.
Featuring psycho killers in a Christmas setting, “And All Through the House” deserves praise for its effective use of contrast. Also worth acknowledging is the performance of Larry Drake, whose demented expressions accentuate the gruesome, sadistic nature of the evil Santa character.
During the opening sequence, certain holiday tropes (i.e. Christmas music and decorations) establish a warm, cozy atmosphere prior to the murder of Joseph—a case of misdirection that, though inferior to the parallel scene from Amicus Productions’ Tales from the Crypt anthology film, should be commended for its haunting execution (no pun intended).
As opposed to the 1972 version directed by Freddie Francis, this offering is marred by campy humor, over-the-top acting, and a lack of subtlety from beginning to end. (Fans of the horror/comedy crossover genre may, however, enjoy “And All Through the House” for its tongue-in-cheek undertones.)
This episode may also evoke criticism for failing to present a sympathetic, let alone remotely likable, protagonist. Notably, in addition to her sociopathic behavior, the main character demonstrates an utter absence of intelligence when confronting the Santa killer—an aspect that will undoubtedly frustrate the majority of viewers.
A dark but goofy holiday tale, “And All Through the House” earns its reputation as a series favorite. Nevertheless, many horror buffs—especially those of a serious inclination—may prefer the 1972 segment for its superior interpretation of the source material.
Overall Quality: 7/10
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