After being severely injured in a runaway horse accident,the family patriarch Bertram ( Charles Durning) lies in a hospital bed plotting revenge against Mel, the four legged "enemy" he blames for putting him there. So when his eldest daughter Kate (Jessica Lange) comes to visit,the father has but one request "Shoot that horse!" By chance his alcoholic brother Dane (Donald Moffat) is in the same hospital drying out. Meanwhile back at the house, Kate's mom (Ann Wedgeworth) is losing her grip on reality and Kate's sister Rita (Tess Harper) has her own problems with a teenage daughter Jilly (Patricia Arquette) who has recently discovered booze and boys. Between her ornery father,her fed up sister, her wild niece and her spaced out mom, Minnesotan turned New Yorker Kate is in for one helluva family visit!