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directed by Peter Sasdy, Tom Clegg, Alan Gibson, Don Leaver, and Francis Megahy
UK 1980

 

HAMMER HOUSE OF HORROR

Hammer horror fans may know that their last theatrical foray (until recently) was 1976’s TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER (although they were also behind the rather pointless 1979 remake of THE LADY VANISHES as well), but Hammer wasn’t quite done yet. In 1980, in collaboration with Sir Lew Grade’s ITC Entertainment and Jack Gill’s Chips Productions (RISING DAMP), the studio mounted a thirteen-episode anthology titled HAMMER HOUSE OF HORROR featuring a mix of Hammer veterans in front of and behind the camera.

DISC ONE:
In WITCHING TIME, film composer David Winter (Jon Finch, MACBETH) has more to worry about than his actress wife’s infidelity when witch Lucinda (Patricia Quinn, THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW) teleports from the seventeenth century. Prunella Gee (NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN) and Ian McCulloch (ZOMBIE) also star. Director Don Leaver was a seasoned TV director – whose CV also included two episodes of Brian Clemens’ series THRILLER – and scripter Anthony Read would serve as story editor for the entire series.

In THIRTEENTH REUNION, women’s page columnist Ruth (Julia Foster, THE LONELINESS OF A LONG DISTANCE RUNNER) is assigned to investigate allegations of psychological abuse at the “Think Thin” weight loss clinic and discovers a chilling link between the clinic and the local undertakers. Director Peter Sasdy had previously helmed Hammer’s TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA, COUNTESS DRACULA, and HANDS OF THE RIPPER. Writer Jeremy Burnham only previous Hammer credit was THE HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN, but he would later script follow-up anthology series THE HAMMER HOUSE OF MYSTERY & SUSPENSE episode “Czech Mate” (as well as the creepy HTV children’s miniseries CHILDREN OF THE STONES).

In RUDE AWAKENING, realtor Norman Shenley (Denholm Elliot, THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD) experiences a recurring “Groundhog’s Day” involving nightmarish persecutions over an affair with his secretary Lolly (Lucy Gutteridge, THE GREEK TYCOON) and the murder of his wife Emily (Pat Heywood, 10 RILLINGON PLACE). James Laurenson (ASSAULT) also stars. Director Peter Sasdy returns for the second of his three episodes, scripted by Gerald Savory (who also penned the acclaimed BBC-TV adaptation of DRACULA).

DISC TWO:
In GROWING PAINS, strange things begin to happen when chemist Dr. Morton (Gary Bond, ANNE OF A THOUSAND DAYS) and his wife Laurie (Barbara Kellerman, SATAN’S SLAVE) adopt strange orphan James (Matthew Blakstad, YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES). Is the unsettlingly mannered orphan responsible or is their dead son William (Christopher Reilly) reaching out from beyond the grave? Directed by Francis Megahy (TAFFIN).

In THE HOUSE THAT BLED TO DEATH, a young couple (Nicholas Ball [LIFEFORCE] and Rachel Davies) and their daughter (Emma Ridley, RETURN TO OZ) move into an old house that was the scene of a brutal murder years before; and more bloody antics ensue in this most mean-spirited episode directed by Tom Clegg (TV’s SHARPE series from the novels of Bernard Cornwell).

In CHARLIE BOY, Graham (Leigh Lawson, TESS) sets off a chain of voodoo-induced murder when he acquires the titular African fetish, and the list of victims may include himself and his girlfriend (Angela Bruce). Director Robert Young previously helmed VAMPRIE CIRCUS for Hammer.

DISC THREE:
Hammer most recognizable veteran Peter Cushing (HORROR OF DRACULA) appears in THE SILENT SCREAM. Ex-con Chuck (Brian Cox, MANHUNTER) discovers that his new boss Mr. Blueck keeps a secret zoo behind his quaint pet shop where he uses electronic stimuli to condition obedience; and he may interested in adding a human or two to his menagerie.

In CHILDREN OF THE FULL MOON, motoring couple Tom (Christopher Cazenove, TV’s DYNASTY) and Sarah (Celia Gregory, AGATHA) become stranded in the countryside and stumble upon the stately home of Mrs. Ardoy (Diana Dors, NOTHING BUT THE NIGHT) and her brood of peculiar children (who get even more peculiar as the full moon rises). Robert Urquhart (THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN) also stars.

GROWING PAINS director Francis Megahy returns for CARPATHIAN EAGLE, in which Inspector Clifford (Anthony Valentine, PERFORMANCE) investigates the heart-ripping murders of several men and learns of the legend of a deranged Carpathian countess from writer Natalie Bell (Suzanne Danielle, FLASH GORDON), who also becomes the prime suspect. Sian Phillips (DUNE) and a pre-REMINGTON STEELE Pierce Brosnan also appear.

DISC FOUR:
Don Sharp (KISS OF THE VAMPIRE) directs GUARDIAN OF THE ABYSS in which antiques dealer Michael (Ray Lonnen, MURDER ELITE) comes into possession of a scrying glass and a girl (Rosalyn Landor, THE DEVIL RIDES OUT) on the run from a cult of devil worshippers (led by John Carson of Hammer’s PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES and CAPTAIN KRONOS: VAMPIRE HUNTER). Sharp also directed THE DEVIL-SHIP PIRATES and RASPUTIN THE MAD MONK for Hammer.

In VISITOR FROM THE GRAVE, Penny (Kathryn Leigh Scott, TV’s DARK SHADOWS) shoots and kills a prowler (Stanley Lebor, THE DEVIL WITHIN HER), who turns out to be shady associate of her husband Harry (Simon MacCorkindale, DEATH ON THE NILE). They bury the body, but he won’t stay dead for Penny who reaches out to a medium (Mia Nadasi, COUNTESS DRACULA) to rid herself of the persecuting specter. Peter Sasdy returns for his third series outing, and writer Anthony Hinds had previously scripted fifteen Hammer horrors starting with BRIDES OF DRACULA (and produced even more).

In TWO FACES OF EVIL, a family road trip in the rainy English countryside turns nightmarish when they pick up a mysterious hitchhiker – his face obscured by his raincoat – who causes their vehicle to crash. Asked to identify the hitchhiker’s body, Janet (Anna Calder-Marshall, WUTHERING HEIGHTS) discovers that he is an exact double for her husband Martin (Gary Raymond, SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER); but can she be sure that the right man survived? Directed by Hammer vet Alan Gibson (DRACULA A.D. 1972 and THE SATANIC RITES OF DRACULA).

DISC FIVE:
WITCHING TIME’s Don Leaver returns to helm the series’ final episode THE MARK OF SATAN which was left out of US syndication for its disturbing content. When morgue attendant Edwyn Rord (Peter McEnery, Basil Deaden’s VICTIM) pricks his finger sewing up the corpse of a man who took a drill to his forehead to exorcise demons, he begins to believe that evil is virus that can be transmitted from one person to another. Is he paranoid or is everyone he knows really out to get him? Ken Russell favorite Georgina Hale (THE DEVILS) also stars.

Hammer mounted another thirteen episode anthology in 1984 titled HAMMER HOUSE OF MYSTERY & SUSPENSE (broadcast in the US as FOX MYSTERY THEATER)
.

TV Premiere: 12 April 1980 - 6 December 1980 (UK)

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DVD Review: Synapse Films (5-DVD Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution

Synapse Films

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 702:14
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: ~6.4 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Bitrate

Bitrate

Bitrate

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Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
Subtitles none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Synapse Films

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Disc One: WITCHING TIME (54:12), THE THIRTEENTH REUNION (54:00), and RUDE AWAKENING (54:02)
• Disc Two: GROWING PAINS (), THE HOUSE THAT BLED TO DEATH (), and CHARLIE BOY ()
• Disc Three: THE SILENT SCREAM (), CHILDREN OF THE FULL MOON (), and CARPATHIAN EAGLE ()
• Disc Four: GUARDIAN OF THE ABYSS (), VISITOR FROM THE GRAVE (), and THE TWO FACES OF EVIL
• Disc Five: THE MARK OF SATAN (54:00)
• - Optional Introductions for each episode by Shane M. Dallmann
• - Grave Recollections: A Visit with Kathryn Leigh Scott (16:9; 8:23)
• - Hammer Housekeeping: A Visit with Mia Nadasi (6:13)
• - Animated Still Gallery

DVD Release Date: 11 September 2012
Amaray

Chapters
 

 

Comments

Synapse's new five disc set features a new conversion of the PAL master tapes. Each episode running a few minutes longer due to the conversion of the framerate from 50i PAL to progressive 23.976 NTSC - not unlike Criterion's NTSC releases of the TV movie BERLIN ALEXANDERPLATZ and the PAL DV-CAM film COLOSSAL YOUTH - compared to A&E's OOP 2001 four disc set (HERE) which sported interlaced NTSC transfers (which retained the original 25fps timings). The audio pitch has also been adjusted to compensate for the 4% speed change and I noticed no difference between it and the A&E version.

Both sets include the films in their original British broadcast versions. The syndicated US versions through ITC - which omitted THE MARK OF SATAN from the line-up - were snipped not only of some nudity and gore, but also some brief bits of exposition (including most of then-unknown Pierce Brosnan's supporting victim role in CARPATHIAN EAGLE). International Video Entertainment released the twelve syndication episodes on VHS as part of their big box Elvira-hosted "Thriller Video" line.

The Synapse set features informative minute-long optional introductions for each episode by Shane Dallman, as well as interviews with actresses Kathryn Leigh Scott and and Mia Nadasi (wife of director Peter Sasdy), both of whom appeared in the "Visitor from the Grave" episode. All five discs are housed in the same regular-sized Amaray case (the A&E set featured four separate regular size cases in a cardboard slipcase).

  - Eric Cotenas

 


DVD Menus


 


 

Screen Captures

 

WITCHING TIME

 

(AE TOP - Synapse - BOTTOM)

 

 


(AE TOP - Synapse - BOTTOM)

 

 


THE THIRTEENTH REUNION

 

(AE TOP - Synapse - BOTTOM)

 

 


(AE TOP - Synapse - BOTTOM)

 

 


RUDE AWAKENING
 
(AE TOP - Synapse - BOTTOM)
 

 


(AE TOP - Synapse - BOTTOM)

 

 


GROWING PAINS
 

 


 

 


THE HOUSE THAT BLED TO DEATH

 

 


 

 


CHARLIE BOY
 

 


 

 


THE SILENT SCREAM
 

 


 

CHILDREN OF THE FULL MOON
 

 


 

CARPATHIAN EAGLE
 

 


GUARDIAN OF THE ABYSS
 

 

 


VISITOR FROM THE GRAVE
 

 


 


THE TWO FACES OF EVIL
 

 


 


DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

Distribution

Synapse Films

Region 1 - NTSC

 



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