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I was 8 years of age when Hammer House of Horror originally aired on ITV back in 1980 and as I often stayed with my grandparents on a weekend when I was a child I was allowed to watch TV programmes that my parents wouldn't let me see and definitely wouldn't approve of me watching. I loved horror films from an early age and grew up watching the old Hammer Dracula's and Frankenstein movies and I distinctly remember Saturday evenings when Hammer House of Horror came on simply down to the memorable theme tune and opening credits. This collection represents the single series run of 13 episodes that were produced by ITV and when I saw it available for under a tenner on amazon I decided to take a trip down memory lane, Horror has moved on since the eighties and whilst I was prepared for these episodes to feel dated the iconic theme music transported me back to being a nervously excited little boy when I put the first disc into my BluRay player and pressed "Play" on my remote. So what did I think of the stories and have they stood the test of time?...
Spread over 4 discs in 2 volumes the 13 stories contained in this Hammer House of Horror collection are a mixture of the supernatural, creature-feature, horror and thriller genres. Each episode runs for about around 50 minutes and all share similarities which I will discuss in this review, anyone around my age and older will probably remember seeing the show advertised on ITV back in 1980 and perhaps would have watched an episode or two if not the whole series at that time and whilst there will always be a special place in my heart and memory for the show I do have to admit to feeling a little underwhelmed, and dare I say, disappointed, after sitting down and watching all of the episodes again.
I won't discuss each of the episodes separately in this review as that would just drag it out, instead I will pick out what I liked and disliked and evaluate the series as a whole and whilst there were some highlights for me I do think that overall this collection is more miss than hit. I'll focus on the positives first though and much of the joy for me from some of the episodes came down to the big name stars who appeared in them. Peter Cushing features in probably the best episode, "The Silent Scream", in which he plays a meek pet-shop owner who has a secret collection of animals that he wants to add to. Cushing is reliably 'old school horror' and his inclusion in this episode is great to see as his performance here lifts what would have been quite a mediocre plot into something a lot more sinister. Similarly 80's favourite Diana Dors stars in another good episode "Children of the Full Moon" and manages to bring some spark to a werewolf featured story and plays against the blonde-bombshell type she was renowned for. Early appearances from Pierce Brosnan in a ludicrous tale of murder and Sian Phillips typically overacting in another are worth noting as are Brian Cox and Denholm Elliot, two more recognisable British film and TV faces and it seemed to me that the episodes which featured the 'big' names were probably the best amongst the collection as a whole.
The problem with the series for me comes down to the pacing of the episodes, horror has changed so much over the years that I think nowadays I'm more accustomed to fast and furious storylines that build in intensity and offer some twists and turns on the way rather than simply setting out a predictable and straight forward story. These episodes in Hammer House of Horror simply plod along with no momentum or impetus, they are terribly flat with hardly any surprises or twists and unlike "Tales of the Unexpected" a similar show from the same era they lack any 'stings in the tail' or amazing revelations that leave the viewer questioning what they have just seen. The acting ranges from wooden through to good depending on the episode and although I was expecting the special effects to now look dated they were a lot worse than I ever remembered. Blood looks like Cherryade which never really helps in any horror film or TV series and the make-up and visual effects are just unbelievable and for me the whole series looked cheaply made and cheaply produced and ultimately left me questioning why I loved this show so much back in my younger days.
I realise that time moves on and what frightened me as a child wouldn't necessarily frighten me now and perhaps I should have left Hammer House of Horror alone and not revisited it really. It was fun checking out the fashions of the age and the furniture that featured in the character's homes though as they reminded me of my childhood and as a trip down memory lane this was probably the best part of Hammer House of Horror for me as it did remind me of how life was like as an 8 year old growing up at that time. As far as the stories go though they're just not strong enough to hold up to scrutiny nowadays and I'm sure that many people would just laugh and find them ridiculous if they decided to give this series a go in 2011. This is a collection for those who remembered it at the time and maybe like me they hold fond memories of it, I don't think it has ruined my memories of the show though having watched it 30 years on, the theme music will always be the strongest part of the show for me and it's just a shame that the episodes have dated so badly but simply put, they're just not horrific or suspensful by any stretch of the imagination.
The Extra's on the DVD release are quite disappointing too, there are a few stills galleries included which are basically screen shots of the episodes along with written cast biographies. Nothing to get excited about and nothing that can't be found by looking online if you wanted to look, it's a shame that there wasn't much care or thought put into into the collection as it would have been nice to have had some interviews or cast recollections included. The DVD has a rating of 15 which is probably about right, there is some nudity and bad language and there are some themes which would be unsuitable for younger viewers although I originally watched these when I was 8 years of age and can't remember them affecting me too badly and even at 39, the age I now am, I don't think there's anything too explicit in the show's content that would scare anybody of any age really.
Overall then I had mixed feelings watching this collection of Hammer House of Horror stories, times have changed though and it's probably unfair of me to compare these stories with what's around now. I enjoyed some of the episodes, others were just terrible and my rating here of 3 stars reflects my overall disappointment with the collection as a whole. I paid under £10.00 for my 2 DVD box set which I think is reasonable, I certainly wouldn't recommend paying anything more than that but if you remember the show from back in the day then it might be worth checking out although now I've seen them I doubt I would want to watch them again any time soon. Maybe I should leave it another 30 years and see what they're like then...
Thanks for reading my review.
After decades of scaring cinema goers, Hammer Studios turned to television with 'Hammer House of Horror' in the early eighties, keeping the Gothic sensibility of the films but switching the action to modern day. Featuring the talents of Diana Dors, Denholm Elliott, and Hammer regular Peter Cushing amongst others, Hammer House of Horror managed to make the transition from film to TV successfully, and is remembered fondly by all those lucky enough to have watched them when they were first aired.
The House That Bled To Death - A family move into a house where unbeknown to them, a horrible murder took place. This episode is famous for a scene where a pipe bursts, covering a children's party in blood. Lovely and gruesome this one, with a fantastic ending. Probably my favourite of the bunch.
The Silent Scream - Peter Cushing plays a pet shop owner/mad scientist (of course!) who has found a way to imprison animals without bars. He gives ex con Chuck (Brian Cox) a job, only it quickly becomes apparent that Chuck is there for another reason entirely. Brian Cox is great as usual but really the episode belongs to the always brilliant Cushing, who manages to make you feel sorry for someone so twisted.
The Two Faces of Evil - A family pick up a mysterious hitchhiker who causes them to crash, but things only get worse from then on. Another great episode, genuinely creepy - and there's a shot of the hitchhiker that always gives me goosebumps! Love the way evil here is represented by bad teeth.
The Mark of Satan - hospital employee becomes convinced the devil is after him, after he sees the number 9 in everything he does. I'm not a fan of this one, it's a tad too serious and it seems to be trying too hard to be Rosemary's Baby for TV. The fun for me is in the humour and this episode lacks it completely. Nice acting though.
Witching Time - A film composer is alone in his country house when a huge storm brings him a mysterious woman (played by Patricia Quinn) who claims to be a witch from the 17th century. A white witch she ain't, as she takes control over the young man and tries to bump off his unfaithful wife. Look out for 'grandad' Lennard Pearce from Only Fools and Horses playing a vicar. Patricia Quinn is delightfully saucy and I can see why lots of teenage boys enjoy this episode. This is pretty funny episode and probably the campest of them all.
Visitor From The Grave - A naive heiress kills a man who tries to attack her, and finds herself being haunted by his ghost... or is something even more sinister at work here? The protagonist is pretty drippy here but there's a nice ending for this one. Overall it's a pretty good episode but there's a moment of un-pcness that is a tad cringeworthy.
Rude Awakening - The lovely Denholm Elliott gives a very funny performance in this episode where an estate agent (Elliott) keeps having odd, disturbing dreams and soon he can't tell the difference between his dreams and reality. Elliott is great as the pervy, lusty estate agent after his ever changing secretary and this is a another gem of an episode.
Charlie Boy - An African idol has sinister powers that cause some pretty gruesome deaths, our protagonists realise they're next and it's a race against time to destroy the idol. Not one of the better episodes but it's pretty enjoyable despite the awfully cheesy music throughout!
Children of the Full Moon - Diana Dors polishes off her best west country accent for this werewolf tale. A young couple find themselves in a house in the middle of the woods, where a welcoming woman (Dors) lives with her numerous 'children'. I had to giggle at the little girl in the pre-credits sequence gurning with animal blood all around her mouth. Lot of fun this episode, made me jump a couple of times!
The Thirteenth Reunion - A reporter is sent to investigate 'Think Thin', a health farm that abuses women to make them lose weight. But, since this is Hammer House of Horror, things are far more sinister than that! Warren Clarke also stars, and this is another very strong episode.
The Carpathian Eagle - Anthony Valentine stars as a police detective trying to solve a series of gruesome murders of men and finds that history may be repeating itself. I have to say this one confused me a bit, perhaps I'm just a bit thick but I wasn't that keen. Look out for Pierce Brosnan playing one of the victims!
Guardian of the Abyss - An antiques dealer buys a mirror that attracts the attention of a strange cult. You can see the ending come from a mile off, but then that's usually part of the fun! Personally I thought this was one of the weaker episodes.
Growing Pains - A couple adopt a boy after their own dies tragically. This is a bit poor. The young, creepy kid isn't a good enough actor to pull this off, and I sat through the whole thing thinking why on earth did they bother to adopt when they clearly don't have the time to look after a child. This one has a rather daft ending, it's probably the weakest of the episodes.
Extras: There are stills galleries and cast biographies so you don't have to think 'where have I seen so and so?' but other than that it's pretty thin on the ground. It really doesn't matter though, the episodes will entertain you enough.
There are in total 13 episodes and the total running time is 360 minutes. The certificate is 15. There are 4 disks and you can buy it from Amazon for £9.93. That is extremely good value for money, I can't recommend this collection enough. Makes me sad though that we don't have an equivalent today. TV just seems to be wall to wall cruddy dramas and soap. We need more horror!
Though the films had finished, Hammer were able to make two series of TV shows in the 80's. The Hammer House of Horror was the first of the series to be made, and consists of 13 episodes that are about a hour long each. It was a welcome return to Hammer, who hadn't made anything since 1976 and in fairness, these horrors are a real pleasure to watch and have plenty of good ideas and some chills, thrills and occasional kills. The shows always have a good cast, and often have a star guest actor. It's also worth watching out for smaller cast members who went on to have huge careers.
Notable Episodes include.
The House that Bled To Death- A young couple move into a home with their daughter that was the site of a gruesome murder. They move in, and soon start to witness bizarre and horrific incidents, including a rather nasty plumbing problem.
The Silent Scream - Start Peter Cushing as a mad scientist who performs experiments on animals and a young Brian Cox (of the Bourne films and Manhunter) as thief who becomes Cushing's latest experiment, and Cushing sets a trap him, landing him in a cage he must attempt to break free from.
Charlie Boy - A bizarre African fetish starts to kill people that are all in a photograph after the owner stabs a photo with a knife and then stabs the fetish. It becomes a race against time for the owner, who is also in the photograph.
Rude Awakening - Denholm Elliot has such bizarre dreams involving him and his secretary, who keeps changing her appearance, that he is unable to tell the difference between the dream world and the real world. Ultimately, he no longer knows what he's doing in the real world, leading a dramatic climax.
Carpathian Eagle - Anthony Valentine stars as a police Detective investigating the ritualistic murders of several people, including a young Pierce Brosnan. The trail leads to a large house where a woman insists that her ancestor has been reincarnated and is killing men. However, all is not that clear.
There are others, but those are probably the most memorable. In fairness, the others are very good, and there's not one episode that isn't entertaining. There's certainly enough horror to keep you entertained, and enough chills at times to you spooked. Genuinely, this is a lot of fun. The acting is always good, and sometimes is brilliant. Certainly the episode with Peter Cushing and Brian Cox together has brilliant acting in it, and both revel in their roles. Denholm Elliot in his part is also outstanding, and the plot in his episode is rather bizarre. This series is well worth buying and can provide easy entertainment if you don't have more than an hour to spare.
***HAMMER HOUSE OF HORROR***
I remember watching some of this series on the television when I was quite young and there was something eerie and creepy which made me enjoy watching this series every week. The series was shown on ITV, which ran for 13 weeks, each showing a different episode and story each week. Each programme was an hour long. Some of the actors who feature in these films are Peter Cushing, Denholm Eliot, Diana Dors, Brian Cox, Sian Philips and Pierce Brosnan.
Horror fans will enjoy this series which includes Werewolves, Demons, Witches and Voodoo Dolls. These alternative bedtime stories sparked millions on sleepless nights when they were originally screened and they still remain as scary as ever.
***THE BOX SET***
The Hammer House of Box Set is available from Amazon and HMV for about £11.99 which includes all 13 episodes on 4 discs. Also included on the discs are a Stills gallery and Key cast biographies. This is suitable for persons of 15 years and over, although I'm sure I remember watching this when I was younger than that.
Volume one includes 2 discs which have the following stories on:
* The House That Bled To Death - An old house in a rundown state has been unoccupied since it was the scene of a macabre murder, until new occupants move in with their young daughter. This house is a house of horror with the shadow of the past bringing new terrors to the couple and their young child and with an unexpected twist at the end brings even more horror.
* The Silent Scream - Pete Cushing plays a mad scientist who needs victims to experiment with. He owns a local vet shop and he plans to create a prison that contains no bars. When a couple get caught up in his experiment and escape something far worse awaits his victims when they run.
* The Two Faces Of Evil - Setting off on their holidays, a family unwisely give a lift to a sinister hitchhiker. They have an accident and the car crashes, one man is dead and one man in injured but which one?
* The Mark Of Satan - A man claiming to have been infected and possessed by the devil dies trying to drill a hole into his head. Hospital morgue assistant Edwyn Rord attends to the body but soon becomes obsessed with the number 9 and that the forces of evil are at work. Has Edwyn been infected too?
* Witching Time - A lovely young witch from the past brings spine-chilling terror into the twentieth century and to the present occupants of the farmhouse in which she was born in the 17th century. She is a ghost, but flesh and blood, and passionate. She puts her mark on the young man now living in the farmhouse and how can his wife fight such good impelling opposition.
* Visitor From The Grave - Whilst alone at home, Penny is attacked by an intruder. She shoots and kills the man who Harry later identifies as his colleague Charles Willoughby. Due to the possession of a shot gun without a license and Penny's mental illness they decide to bury the body in the woods, but Charles Willoughby comes back to haunt Penny.
Volume 2 again includes 2 discs and has the following stories on:
* Rude Awakening - Denhold Elliot plays a lecherous estate agent who has recurrent dreams about his seductive secretary, a mysterious house and even more mysterious encouragement to murder his wife.
* Charlie Boy - A wooden fetish/Voodoo carving in christened Charlie Boy by its new owners (Graham and Sarah) who acquire the fetish after Graham's Uncle tragic death. After collecting the fetish, the couple have a road rage experience and when at home later they start joking around and taking their anger out on Charlie Boy. Unbeknown to them the voodoo doll works and the road rage drive dies an unpleasant death.
* Children Of The Full Moon - A wealthy couple head off on holiday to the West Country but get stranded. They find sanctuary in a house in the woods where a woman cares for a number of mysterious children. The husband wakes in hospital to be told the werewolf children were all a dream. However his now pregnant wife has changed, developing a taste for raw steak among other things.
* The Thirteenth Reunion - A journalist is sent to investigate the strange weight loss techniques used at the Chesterton Slimming Clinic. Whilst Ruth is there she becomes friendly with a course attendee who suddenly dies after taking a slimming pill. The journalists' investigative nature tells her something is wrong and boy is she right.
* The Carpathian Eagle - A young woman convinced she possesses the reincarnated spirit of a murderess walks the night seeking out new victims to fill an ancient prophecy for death. This film features Pierce Brosnan in one of his early screen roles.
* Guardian Of The Abyss - An antique mirror turns up at a house clearance in which a young girl on the run from a cult society claims the mirror is a scrying glass used to summon Chorozon, the almighty devil. The society are keen to get their hands on the both the mirror and the girl.
* Growing Pains - The son of a scientist suddenly dies after eating tablets found in his dad's laboratory. The couple adopt a strange boy from a children's home, but odd things start to occur when he comes to live with them.
Although this series doesn't have the best effects and up to date modern technically and effects I still find these films really eerie and creepy. I especially fine the music at the beginning of each series quite eerie as well. Although there are some fantastic horror films out to date you can't beat a good, old horror film, they just seem to scare me more than modern day horror films. My favourite episodes form this box set are Charlie Boy, The House That Bled to Death and The Silent Scream. This is probably because I remember these most when I first watched this series on TV.
You are either going to love or hate this series. If you like old horror films and things such as curses, witches, ghosts and other super-natural powers then you will probably enjoy this series. If you prefer the modern, more up to date horror and thriller films then you may find these films quite poor. For me this collection is staying put on my shelf!
(review also on ciao)
In 1980 Hammer Films created Hammer House Of Horror, a series of 13 one hour horror stories made for television. They featured many famous stars including Peter Cushing, Denholm Elliott, Diana Dors, Anthony Andrews and a very young Pierce Brosnan. The programme featured a haunting theme tune and there were some memorable stories including Children Of The Full Moon, Witching Time and The House That Bled To Death. A DVD box set was released in October 2002 which will set you back around £25.
A strange woman appears on David Winter's farm, claiming to be a 17th century witch. Jon Finch stars as David Winter and Prunella Gee (who appeared in Coronation Street as Doreen Heavey) plays Finch's wife Mary. Lucinda Jessop is Patricia Quinn, the witch. This is one of the most memorable Hammer House Of Horror stories. I remember the scene where Finch wakes up with his back covered in scratches after a night with Patricia from my childhood. It's a very enjoyable story and is also notable for the appearance of Lennard Pearce (who played Grandad in Only Fools And Horses) as the Rector. 8/10.
The Thirteenth Reunion.
A Fleet Street journalist investigates a dodgy slimming clinic. Ruth (Julia Foster who starred in Alfie and Half A Sixpence) is assigned by her editor to participate in a ten week course at a new weight organisation called "Think Thin".Ruth becomes friendly with Ben Faradaday, played by Warren Clarke. Clarke of course is best known for his role as Detective Superintendant Andy Dalziel in Dalziel And Pascoe. He never looks any different and is instantly recognisable. It turns out that the clinic has a rather unorthodox menu on offer! This story is a bit uninspiring, hence only 5/10.
Denholm Elliott stars as Norman Shenley, an estate agent who finds himself having dreams that appear to be incredibly real. They're so real in fact that he begins to wonder which is the dream and which is reality. Is it just me or does Denholm Elliott always seem to be in roles where he has sex with younger women? Indeed during Rude Awakening he's at it in a phonebox with his secretary Lolly, played by Lucy Gutteridge. Not surprisingly his nagging wife ends up dead but does he commit the crime? Is it a dream or is it reality? 6/10.
This is my least favourite story. After the death of their son William (Christopher Reilly), a diplomat Laurie Morton (Barbara Kellerman) and her husband, scientist Terence Morton (Gary Bond) adopt a boy called James (Matthew Blakstadt). As soon as he arrives horrible things start to happen. I found Growing Pains very uncomfortable to watch, especially the scene where it was suggested that the creepy James had butchered about half a dozen rabbits that his adopted father had been using for his unpleasant experiments. Matthew Blakstad was never heard of again after playing James. Awful, hence only 2/10.
The House That Bled To Death.
William and Emma Peters buy an old house where a brutal murder happened many years ago. William Peters is played by Nicholas Ball, best known for playing James Hazell in the TV series Hazell in 1978-79. He recently appeared in Eastenders as Terry Bates. Mr and Mrs Peters move in with their daughter Sophie, and become friends with their neighbours Jean and George Evans. Unpleasant things begin to happen including the bloody death of Sophie's cat. Also, during Sophie's birthday party a pipe leaks blood, forcing the family to leave.
The brilliant English actor Milton Johns (Poldark, Doctor Who, Ever Decreasing Circles, The Empire Strikes Back) appears as A.J Powers, a friend of William and Emma Peters. There is something not quite right about their association. Can you guess what it is? An enjoyable story with a twist. 8/10.
A carved African fetish with voodoo powers has a mind of its own. Leigh Lawson (best known as Twiggy's husband and the eighties TV series Travelling Man) stars as Michael and Angela Bruce (Footballers' Wives, Red Dwarf, Doctor Who) is his wife Sarah. Michael Deeks plays Phil. Michael Deeks is one of those actors you remember from your childhood but never remember their name. Just for the record Michael Deeks had blond curly hair and is probably best known for starring alongside Richard O'Sullivan in TV's Dick Turpin. (1979-82.) Charlie Boy is reasonably watchable but the ending is a bit laughable. 5/10.
The Silent Scream.
A seemingly kind hearted pet shop owner offers Chuck Spillers (who has just been released from prison) a job. However it turns out that he has a hidden zoo at the back of his shop housing some incredibly dangerous animals including tigers and panthers. The pet shop owner Martin Blueck (played by the legendary Peter Cushing) warns Chuck not to go near the safe. Brian Cox (Rob Roy, Braveheart) is Chuck Spillers and Elaine Donnelly (Heartbeat, Eastenders) is his wife Annie. Peter Cushing's appearance makes The Silent Scream a must to watch. 7/10.
Children Of The Full Moon.
This is surely the best remembered episode of Hammer House Of Horror and stars the magnificent Diana Dors as Mrs Ardoy who lives with a large number of children who turn out to be werewolves.
When Tom Martin and Sarah Martin's car crashes in the middle of nowhere a strange woman with a large number of children offers them a room for the night. During the night Sarah is attacked by a werewolf. After returning home Sarah begins to act strangely and has an unpleasant habit of eating raw liver as she drives her car. Tom follows her back to the house where she gives birth to another werewolf!
Diana Dors is brilliantly creepy as Mrs Ardoy and I thought Dave Lee Travis was making a guest appearance at the end as a woodcutter but it turns out that the actor's name was Jacob Witkin! Christopher Cazenove plays Tom Martin and Celia Gregory is Sarah Martin. Children Of The Full Moon is hugely enjoyable. 9/10.
Gruesome murders are linked to the legend of a Carpathian countess. Detective Inspector Clifford (Anthony Valentine) meets up with Natalie who has written a book about the Carpathian countess who murdered her lovers by cutting their heart out with a carved cutting tool. He arranges to meet up with her after she is interviewed on the radio. Suzanne Danielle plays Natalie.
Danielle was nicknamed The Body in her heyday. However the former supermodel Elle McPherson is also nicknamed The Body and if you've ever watched the film Sirens you'll know why! Pierce "007" Brosnan appears in what must have been his first ever TV role. However he soon gets bumped off. An enjoyable story with a strong cast. 8/10.
Guardian Of The Abyss.
This story is has much in common with the Hammer classic The Devil Rides Out. Ray Lonnen plays Michael Roberts, a character similar to Christopher Lee's portrayal of Duc de Richleau and John Carson's character Charles Randolph is very much like Mocata, played by Charles Gray.
The story centres on a mirror with mysterious powers which Roberts' antique dealer friend Laura Stephens purchases which she lives to regret. Roberts meets Allison (Rosalyn Landor) who has escaped from a cult society that wants to sacrifice her to summon the devil. Roberts ends up having sex with a woman he hardly knows and who hasn't had a bath for days. Paul Darrow (Avon from Blakes Seven) appears as Simon Andrews, another antiques dealer who takes an interest in the mirror but why?
Guardian Of The Abyss is an enjoyable story with a shocking ending. 8/10.
Visitor From The Grave.
A woman shoots dead an intruder who terrorises her in a lonely cottage. Her boyfriend seemingly buries his body in the woods but her nightmare is far from over.
I found this story more of a comedy than a horror mainly because of the performance of Stanley Lebor as Charles. I got the impression Lebor was trying to impersonate Blakey from On The Buses and kept expecting him to say "I 'ate you Butler!"
Considering the likes of Simon MacCorkindale (Death On The Nile, Casualty) and Gareth Thomas (Blakes Seven) were in this story I was expecting better. A silly and predictable ending. 4/10.
The Two Faces Of Evil.
The Lewis family, Martin and Janet with their son David are going on holiday. They pick up a strange hitch hiker who attacks Martin while he is driving, forcing the car to crash. Janet and David escape unhurt but Martin is badly injured. Janet visits the man she believes to be her husband in hospital but is he really her husband or an imposter?
The Two Faces Of Evil is a reasonably watchable doppelganger story with good performances from Gary Raymond as Martin Lewis/the hitch hiker and Anna Calder-Marshall as his wife Janet. However the ending is a bit weak. 6/10.
The Mark Of Satan.
A man sees the number 9 everywhere and is convinced the forces of evil are at work.
Edwin Rord (Peter McEnery) plays a morgue assistant who attends to the body of a man who claims that the devil told him to drill a hole into his head. Edwin lives with his mother (Annie Dyson) and the lodger Stella (played by Georgina Hale from Budgie). An average story. 6/10.
There are some facts about the cast members which I found quite interesting. There is also a so called "Photo Gallery" that consists of two photographs!
Five years after they stopped producing feature films for the cinema, the legendary Hammer Studios switched to television production in the early eighties and the result was this fondly remembered series of mysteries which ran for 13 episodes and is now available on this hugely enjoyable box-set.
Set in the present day, 'Hammer House Of Horror' was very British, suitably creepy and great fun. It was also packed with famous guest stars.
THE HOUSE THAT BLED TO DEATH
A couple, with young daughter, buy an old house and it soon becomes apparent that it is haunted by events that occurred there a long time ago. The pipes are leaking blood (during a children's birthday party no less!) and all manner of strange things are happening. This is one of the most famous episodes from the series and an excellent one too. Watch out for the big twist at the end! This one stars eighties tv star Nicholas Ball.
THE SILENT SCREAM
Another excellent episode featuring the great Peter Cushing, one of my favourite actors of all time. Brian Cox plays Chuck, a newly released con who is supported by an old man (played by Cushing) in his attempt at a fresh start in life. Cushing gives him a job in his pet shop and Chuck discovers he has been working on a mysterious project to make animals respond to signals...and then the problems really begin for Chuck! This is a really creepy episode and will keep you gripped right to the end. Peter Cushing adds his usual touch of class to proceedings.
THE TWO FACES OF EVIL
On route to their holiday destination, a family give a lift to a hitchhiker...big mistake! This is more of a mystery than straight horror with themes of dual identity but it's interesting nonetheless with some good moments. This has a bit of a 'Twilight Zone' feel.
THE MARK OF SATAN
A hospital employee becomes convinced that he has been targeted by a conspiracy involving demonic forces. Not my favourite episode I must say. This one is a bit bleak in contrast to most of the other episodes. It lacks the slight tongue in cheek air and plain fun apparent elsewhere in the series.
Jon Finch stars as a composer living in an old farmhouse. A buxom young woman played by Patricia Quinn arrives and claims to be a witch from the 17th century. More whimsical than other episodes and ok. Look out for Lennard Pearce ('Grandad' from Only Fools and Horses) playing a vicar!
VISITOR FROM THE GRAVE
A seance brings a girl in contact with the fiancee who she lost in a car crash, but, as ever, things are not quite what they seem. An interesting episode if not quite one of the best. Look out for Simon MacCorkindale.
The late Denholm Elliot stars in this one as a randy estate agent obsessed with his shapely sectretary. He starts to have dreams so vivid that he struggles to distinguish them from real life. A good solid episode and Elliot is as watchable as ever, lifting the episode up a notch. I like this one.
An African idol seems to contain the spirit of an evil sorcerer. One of the 'middle-ranking' episodes this is a decent mystery revolving around voodoo with Leigh Lawson and Angela Bruce.
CHILDREN OF THE FULL MOON
Good old Diana Dors guest stars in this terrific episode. A couple heading for the West Country lose their way and stumble across an old house containing Dors and a number of mysterious children. This is of course the werewolf episode. You might remember the opening shot of a young child munching on a dead lamb! West Country accents and fog machines to the fore in this one. Great fun.
THE THIRTEENTH REUNION
Reporter Ruth (played by Julia Foster) is sent to investigate the health-farm run by a mysterious slimming organisation...but they have a very big secret! A young undertaker teams up with Ruth to unravel the secret. Another great episode. It gradually builds up the mystery and suspense and you will be gripped as we close in on the ending. This one also stars Warren Clarke.
THE CARPATHIAN EAGLE
A young woman played by eighties pin-up Suzanne Danielle believes herself to be the reincarnated spirit of a murderess...just as a bizarre series of murders start occuring in London. A good solid episode though not out and out horror. Look out for a young Pierce Brosnan in a brief appearance. I love the very English Police Detective in this episode played by Anthony Valentine.
GUARDIAN OF THE ABYSS
An antiques dealer buys a mysterious mirror and soon stumbles into trouble with a mysterious group who practice all manner of dark things. A very stylish episode with some lovely country settings. This stars Ray Lonnen, Rosalyn Landor and Paul Darrow from 'Blake's 7'.
A fathers scientific research has dire consequences for his family. Not the strongest episode in the series I must say with some ropey acting. It's ok but not up to most of the other material on the DVD.
Stills Gallery and Cast Biographies
Overall, I would strongly recommend this box-set for anyone who loves British horror or a good mystery. It's nostalgic, fun, gripping at times and has many twists and turns. The evocative theme music and titles set up each episode and get you in the 'Hammer' mood. It's a bit camp in places but it's all part of the fun.
Buy the box-set and watch it late at night with all the lights off.