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Fatal Vision 

TV-14 | | Crime, Drama, History | TV Mini-Series (1984)
A retiree spends nine years relentlessly seeking to prove that his son-in-law, a former Green Beret Army doctor, murdered his pregnant wife and two children.




Won 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 2 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »


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Series cast summary:
Karl Malden ...  Freddy Kassab 2 episodes, 1984
Eva Marie Saint ...  Mildred Kassab 2 episodes, 1984
Barry Newman ...  Bernie Segal 2 episodes, 1984
Gary Cole ...  Capt. Jeffrey MacDonald, MD 2 episodes, 1984
Andy Griffith ...  Victor Worheide 2 episodes, 1984
Gary Grubbs ...  James Blackburn 2 episodes, 1984
Joel Polis ...  Brian Murtagh 2 episodes, 1984
Mitchell Ryan ...  Paul Strombaugh 2 episodes, 1984
Wendy Schaal ...  Colette MacDonald 2 episodes, 1984
Scott Paulin ...  William Ivory 2 episodes, 1984
Barry Corbin ...  Franz Grebner 2 episodes, 1984
Albert Salmi ...  Judge Dupree 2 episodes, 1984
Alexandra Johnson Alexandra Johnson ...  Helena Stoeckley 2 episodes, 1984
Paddi Edwards ...  Mrs. Perry MacDonald 2 episodes, 1984
Frank Dent Frank Dent ...  Joe McGinniss 2 episodes, 1984
Carmen Argenziano ...  Col Pruett 2 episodes, 1984
Andy Wood Andy Wood ...  Robert Shaw 2 episodes, 1984
Dennis Redfield ...  Peter Kearns 2 episodes, 1984
Joe Mays ...  William Posey 2 episodes, 1984
Rex Ryon Rex Ryon ...  Jay MacDonald 2 episodes, 1984
J.P. Bumstead J.P. Bumstead ...  Col. Rock 2 episodes, 1984
Brandy Gold ...  Kimberly age 5 2 episodes, 1984
Dylan Galer Dylan Galer ...  Kristen 2 episodes, 1984
Lance Rosen ...  Dennis Eisman 2 episodes, 1984
Patricia Duff ...  Joy 2 episodes, 1984
Nadine Van der Velde ...  Randi 2 episodes, 1984
Laurence Haddon Laurence Haddon ...  Gen. Flanagan 2 episodes, 1984
Jack Rader ...  Provost Marshal 2 episodes, 1984
Kenneth Tigar ...  Pathologist 2 episodes, 1984
Fred Morsell Fred Morsell ...  Agent 2 episodes, 1984
Roy London Roy London ...  Dr. Thornton 2 episodes, 1984
Ken Hill Ken Hill ...  Neighbor 2 episodes, 1984
Eugene Butler Eugene Butler ...  Capt. Somers 2 episodes, 1984
Judith Barsi ...  Kimberly age 3 2 episodes, 1984
Anne Betancourt ...  St. Mary's Sister 2 episodes, 1984
Scotch Byerley Scotch Byerley ...  Lab Tech 2 episodes, 1984
Kathy Christopher Kathy Christopher ...  Hippie Girl 2 episodes, 1984
Robert Clotworthy ...  MP Sergeant 2 episodes, 1984
Hortensia Colorado Hortensia Colorado ...  Nurse 2 episodes, 1984
Kathleen Coyne ...  1st Witness 2 episodes, 1984
David Dangler David Dangler ...  MP Lieutenant 2 episodes, 1984
Matthew Faison Matthew Faison ...  Dr. Bronstein 2 episodes, 1984
Norman Alexander Gibbs Norman Alexander Gibbs ...  News Reporter 2 episodes, 1984
Howard Goodwin Howard Goodwin ...  Party Announcer 2 episodes, 1984
Lance Gordon ...  CID Captain 2 episodes, 1984
Norman Lee Harris Norman Lee Harris ...  CID Man 2 episodes, 1984
Billy James Billy James ...  TV Interviewer 2 episodes, 1984
Steve James ...  U.S. Marshal 2 episodes, 1984
Allan Kolman ...  Reporter 2 episodes, 1984
Richard Lineback ...  MP Captain 2 episodes, 1984
Tracee Lyles Tracee Lyles ...  Nurse 2 episodes, 1984
James Morrison ...  Green Beret 2 episodes, 1984
Clare Torao ...  Nurse 2 episodes, 1984
Fred Ponzlov ...  Reporter 2 episodes, 1984
Fred Retes Fred Retes ...  Photographer 2 episodes, 1984
John Rose John Rose ...  FBI Man 2 episodes, 1984
Paul Ryan ...  Talk Show Host 2 episodes, 1984
Miguel Sandoval ...  MP in Jeep 2 episodes, 1984
Grayce Spence Grayce Spence ...  Court Clerk 2 episodes, 1984
Tom Tarpey Tom Tarpey ...  Psychiatrist 2 episodes, 1984
Brian Thompson ...  Lt. Harrison 2 episodes, 1984
Arnold F. Turner Arnold F. Turner ...  Lab Technician 2 episodes, 1984
Beth Ringwald Beth Ringwald ...  Babysitter 2 episodes, 1984
Wesley Thompson ...  Sgt. McPherson 2 episodes, 1984
Bill Vint Bill Vint ...  Dr. Sadoff 2 episodes, 1984
Justine Visone ...  Secretary 2 episodes, 1984
Peter Vogt Peter Vogt ...  Jury Foreman 2 episodes, 1984


In 1970, military doctor Jeffrey McDonald reports a hideous and confusing story: A gang of hippies akin to the Manson Family broke into his North Carolina home and slaughtered his wife and two daughters, while somehow only wounding him slightly as he tried to fight them off. As McDonald continues to proclaim his innocence, his skeptical father-in-law Freddy Kassab and investigative journalist Joe McGinniss probe his story to uncover the truth. Written by Jwelch5742

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


TV-14 | See all certifications »






Release Date:

18 November 1984 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Fatal Vision See more »

Filming Locations:

Santa Clarita, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


In her first television appearance, Judith Barsi played Kimberley MacDonald, who was murdered by her father Jeffrey R. MacDonald along with her pregnant mother Colette and younger sister Kristen on February 17, 1970. In a tragic case of life imitating art, Judith Barsi and her mother Maria were murdered by her father József on July 25, 1988. See more »


Referenced in Rewind This! (2013) See more »

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User Reviews

Opinions change
28 April 2002 | by joesmith2007See all my reviews

When I first saw this movie over 10 years ago, it convinced me of MacDonald's guilt. I saw it again last night and this time I'm not so sure.

This movie is looking more and more like a propaganda film, intended to cement the audience's hatred of MacDonald, and convince the audience that he is, indeed, guilty. That's quite frightening -- what if it's not the only one like this? What if many Hollywood movies are, in fact, propaganda? Isn't that what we accused certain dictators of making over the past 100 century.

After I watched last night's showing, I went to MacDonald's website. Yes, I know, if I'm worried about "propaganda", I have to view his site with skepticism too. And I did. Yet I couldn't help coming to an uneasy conclusion: if MacDonald really is guilty, why is he so willing to have his DNA tested?

After all, if you are guilty of murder -- and knowing that mitochondrial DNA testing is highly accurate today -- you know for a fact that if you agree to DNA testing, you will be caught. Yet MacDonald is willing to go ahead with it. Sorry, but I just can not shirk the nagging feeling that this means he is convinced of his own innocence (notice I said "convinced" -- it may well be that he did indeed commit the murders, but is so horrified about them that they are now part of his repressed memory and he, in fact, believes he did not commit them!).

The other thing that disturbs me is that the North Carolina prosecutors themselves seem very reluctant to allow full DNA testing. For instance, they are willing to allow nuclear DNA (requiring a larger sample size) or mitochondrial DNA testing, but not both.

Why not? Wouldn't you, as a prosecutor, want to exhaust every possible avenue to find a killer? How can there be such a thing as "too much" information when trying to solve a murder? I find this disturbing. In fact, combined with MacDonald's willingness to undergo DNA testing, I find the prosecutors' reluctance to be evidence that they are far less than certain that they convicted the right man for the crime. Perhaps the prosecutors have something to hide?

In conclusion, I must also agree with another writer that perhaps the most perplexing (and disturbing) aspect of this case that alludes to MacDonald's innocence is the apparent lack of motive. There seems to be no financial nor love-triangle motivation for MacDonald to kill his family.

There is a phenomenon known as "family annihilators", men who kill their entire family because they sense impending ruin (usually financial), and feel that their family can not survive without them. In their misguided way, these men believe they are doing their family a favour by killing them, saving them from the misery that follows financial ruin. However, these men invariably break down in court and completely confess to such crimes. MacDonald didn't do that. So that explanation is likely out of the picture for him, especially since the movie does not portray him as facing imminent financial ruin.

Sometime later in 2002 the full mitochondrial DNA test will be performed. Stay tuned; the results will have significant ramifications. If, in fact, the test results cast doubt on MacDonald's guilt, the producers of "Fatal Vision" will have a lot of explaining to do ...

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