Wilfred Butler (Grant Code) returns to his home on Christmas Eve which was once an institution for the mentally insane and was burned to death which was never discovered as to how this all happened.
A couple named John Carter (Patrick O'Neal) and Ingrid (Astrid Heeren) stay at the place but a killer who decided to reside there as well as hack them away along with making deadly phone calls along with killing anyone who decides to enter the place in which Wilfred's grandson Jeffrey (James Patterson) inherited the place and tries to find out missing clues along with the aid of Diane Adams (Mary Woronov) in which can lead these two into a deadly trap as well when they discover the history of the place.
The beginning is overly narrated explaining some of the characters and what is happening in which I found quite confusing along with the mansion displaying in the snow as well as a shot on someone running out in flames and falling on the snowy ground which made me think to myself roll in the snow to get the flames off of you but of course most horror films these people don't make wise choices so they will die from what is happening to them.
In the story later on we spot the character Jeffrey Butler in a conference meeting about what had happened at his ancestors mansion in which the discussions look very out of synch and quite a bore to watch but there's an odd shocking moment with a dog barking in a flashback sequence while this happens and a maniac ready to murder this creature with a knife. Thankfully we don't spot anything graphic here.
Next we spot Jerry and his sweetheart Ingrid entering the mansion as well as having a lusty romance together as well as getting it on in bed which seems to be a traditional moment in a slasher/splatter flick before the mysterious killer does them away in which we spot this mysterious killer wearing black leather gloves holding up a lantern while creeping through the hallways entering the room as this seemed very impressive and spooky to watch. Also it's really shocking when he slays this couple in which people who enjoy splatter flicks may find this briefly amusing. It sure looked intense while this is happening which makes up for the dull plot beforehand.
Then it's even more effective when this killer makes a call with his whispery voice towards a police station on what had happened making this moment look incredibly dark due to a rusty looking budget that we are already spotting in this film. It makes things even more mysterious.
Then a good moment with a police officer getting out of his vehicle and spotting a graveyard along with the mysterious killer hacking him away which seemed creepily done.
The odd effective moments with the main character Diane Adams pointing a gun towards John Carter and being wise about everything without slipping up in which alot of the times these people aren't smart by doing this in which it's not the case here so this was well written in and making this moment mysterious since this character John is a suspect to what is all happening here.
More creepy moments like an elderly woman named Tess Howard was approaching a doorway hearing a voice and then in the dark the killer flashes a flshlight whispering towards her in which was nicely put in making you wonder if we will spot the killer this time as well as cringe to wonder what he will do next.
In the story there's also a flashback sequence explaining on what happened in the mansion with the ancestors residing there in which it look a little confusing and twisted along with inmates approaching the place with deadly weapons. During this moment it looked pretty impressive on what will happen here.
The terror piles up with the killer vaguely identifying himself towards Diane trying to talk to her but she is freaking out in which seems to work in well with a horror film whenever a killer does reveal themselves in a slasher flick.
Bottom line is that the film was poorly shot and produced but yet has many effective moments. Not such a bad film but not very good either. I can see flicks like Prom Night and The Burning borrowing similar elements here making their productions look far more better. Black Christmas did something like this which was out the same year as this one except theirs was far better and alot creepier too. If you're in the mood for a badly budgeted film with suspenseful values then this one is for you.
The acting was poorly done as well as it looking like it was overdubbed too. Lead actor James Patterson (Jeffrey Butler) had a nice rough and rugged look to his role as this worked for his favor. Can he act? Well he seems to pull off a good mysterious attitude convincingly enough to come across as a suspect into the story so he has some good timing with this but he's not an all around great chracter actor either. At least he tries in which you can tell in this flick.
Patrick O'Neal (John Carter) could not act his way out of a wet paper bag in which he was just a line reader and not showing much of an effort into performing any of the scene's here whatsoever. He has a nice deep serious type of voice but that's about it. He was very wooden in his performance showing very little energy into anything that he does here.
Mary Woronov (Diane Adams) was quite good in her role in fact the best out of the whole cast in which she was sharp with her words and actions in it being right on target with her energy as well as rolling with the punches for the suspenseful moments or intensity that surrounds her. A nice tense reaction by pointing a gun with her firm and demanding voice which looked good and energetic. She reacts good and emotional on a situation as well as screaming intensely with a great frenzied reaction towards her fellow actor. She does this all in good taste. She was a worthy character actress and came across strongly onto the camera.
John Carradine (Charlie Towman) had a brief supporting role in this film but yet he shows a nice mysterious attitude as someone who is mute and really seemed to know what he was doing here. It's hard to tell his acting skills without speaking but seemed to know on how to play someone who is disturbed about anything that he knows about and doesn't want to let anyone know with the killings. Shows good energy within all of this.
Fran Stevens (Tess Howard) was another one who had a brief supporting role but was worth mentioning in which she does well acting anxious and frightened using a good excited and fearful voice with what is happening. She seemed to really study this role fairly well and can be well remembered for what she did here. She's great with a panicking reaction while speaking onto a phone as she does a good job with her energy here too. She does well reacting spooked and good blocking on her going towards a doorway as well as screaming hysterically in which she does well reacting naturally to all of this.
The rest of the cast members isn't worth mentioning here and are easily fogrettable too. Sorry folks.
Plenty of bloody stabbings which looks fairly graphic.
We hear alot of cheesy classical violin playing especially during the opening credits of a weeping Silent Night song which sounded a bit toned out. There's the odd good dark sounds for the film with some hissing sounds which works in well but most of it seemed to not fit in too well which was composed by Gershan Kingsley.