Tuesday, October 2, 2012

My Favorite Episodes of Hammer House of Horror

Hammer House of Horror was a British television series created by the legendary Hammer horror studios which consisted of thirteen episodes broadcast on ITV as a weekly series between September 13th and December 6th 1980. And what a lucky thirteen! Each episode was fifty minutes, and although some of the episodes are slightly uneven, the amazing amount of suspense and tension that was created without graphic violence, foul language, or nudity is extraordinary. Although not on a par with The Twilight Zone in writing quality, at least in my opinion, the level of storytelling is far above what one normally is asked to digest with the standard horror fare. And the acting is similarly good. Here are some of my favorite episodes...



Witching Time

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A musician dude is holed up in a small country estate when he gets a visit from a redheaded woman who inquires exactly what it is they do to witches in the 20th century and when he replies nothing much I suppose she announces with relief that's good news because she is a witch then they have sex and she scratches his back up pretty good she looks like this...


I guess it looks like he's got a pretty good handful of haboob there I can't really remember but if there is nudity it's pretty brief and I refrain from using the word tasteful, but if there is it's not obnoxious. Anyway, this musician has a wife. She's not keen on the idea of the back-scratching witch. There's a a conflict. 

Witch

In which they try to dispose of the scratchy witch by burning in a bonfire but due to some ancient technicalities this won't fly. What happens? Well, all I can say is there's got to be more than one way to dispense of a redheaded witch. This is the first episode of Hammer House of Horror and a great introduction into the old fashioned type of storytelling that runs throughout the series. Feel free to go ahead and start here when watching the series. Did I mention...


That the intro music is very good? 

The Silent Scream 


This is my favorite episode of Hammer House of Horrors because of...

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Peter Cushing
But wait, there's more. You get a plot. You get an early performance by 


Brian Cox, who you'll remember from all kinds of movies like Adaptation and Super troopers. Is he recoiling here because he's just received an electrical shock trying to escape a barless prison cell created by an insane Peter Cushing? Possibly. Is there an escape? More boobs I didn't remember? Maybe. He was also briefly a linebacker with the Chicago Bears, but that's another story.



Rude Awakening 


Aside from classic actor Denholm Eliot's performance as a man who fantasizes about murdering his wife and shagging his secretary, there is one compelling reason to watch Rude awakening multiple times. And that reason is actor James Laurenson, whose performance as the gentle but terrifying Shadmock in Roy Ward Baker's classic The Monster Club may be the greatest single cinematic performance of all the times. 

Artist Jenny Mathews
Depiction of a Shadmock by artist Jenny Mathews. 

It's a good episode, but I'm tired about writing about Hammer House of Horror and since these episodes are all of high quality and only fifty minutes long you can't go wrong by just jumping in and watching any one of them at random. 

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