The Dark Secret of Harvest Home (1978)

TV miniseries
Article 2455 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-22-2007
Posting Date: 5-2-2008
Directed by Leo Penn
Featuring Bette Davis, David Ackroyd, Rosanna Arquette

Upon inheriting a lot of money, a couple moves to a remote New England village with a quaint, unusual atmosphere that makes it feel as if it comes from another time. They begin to discover that the seemingly quaint rituals they perform have a secret, dark side to them that climax in a celebration known as Harvest Home.

According to IMDB, this miniseries clocked in at a good five hours. I only saw a two-hour condensation of it, and it does seem as if certain things are missing, but not so much that it became confusing; I’ve never seen the full version, but I had no problem following this. In fact, I’d say it was one of the best TV Horror movies ever. It’s something like THE WICKER MAN filtered through THE STEPFORD WIVES and CROWHAVEN FARM; in particular, it would make a great companion to the first of those movies. What really makes this movie work is how the presence of one grave in an unhallowed part of the cemetery leads us into an investigation on the mysterious suicide of a former Harvest Maiden; the mystery has some truly amazing twists and turns, especially when we discover why we get two vastly different descriptions of the woman. This movie fascinated me enough that I hope to seek out the complete version one of these days, though I do wonder if it can really sustain a five hour length. Great work from Bette Davis as the town’s matriarch, and I also really like Rene Auberjonois as a nosy peddler, and Norman Lloyd as a town resident who helps somewhat with the investigation. Donald Pleasence’s voice is heard narrating novels during the movie.


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