24 October 2017

HAMMER HOUSE OF HORROR: THE COMPLETE SERIES. (1980) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.




HAMMER HOUSE OF HORROR: BLU-RAY BOX-SET OF THIRTEEN EPISODES. (1980) DIRECTED BY VARIOUS DIRECTORS. STARRING PETER CUSHING, DENHOLM ELLIOTT, BRIAN COX, DIANA DORS, JON FINCH AND SIAN PHILLIPS. 
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

'This star-studded anthology from HAMMER FILMS presents thirteen unforgettable tales of spine-chilling terror!

Re-imagining classic HAMMER themes in a contemporary British setting and signalling a new direction for the legendary film studio under the aegis of producer Roy Skeggs, the series blends the supernatural with a very modern horror, from hauntings and demonic possessions to sinister incarcerations and cannibalism...

A huge hit on its first ITV transmission, HAMMER HOUSE OF HORROR boasts a consistently high-calibre cast including Peter Cushing, Diana Dors, Denholm Elliott, Brian Cox and Sian Phillips.

The complete series is featured here for the first time in a stunning new High Definition restoration from the original film elements in its as-transmitted fullscreen aspect ratio.'

I bloody loved this box-set. I positively wallowed in its contents for an entire weekend, rolling around in it like a metaphorical pig in muck, and then was utterly disgusted to find myself back in the much less exciting real world on the Monday morning. Plus it was raining again...

I'm a huge HAMMER fan, as I know for sure that some of my readers are too (we all have great taste, haha), and the release of this box-set (from NETWORK RELEASING in conjunction with BLUE DOLPHIN PR & MARKETING) is pretty much the best thing that's happened in the world of Blu-Ray this year. In my ever-so-humble-opinion, lol. Yes, I wrote lol outside of Facebook. Standards are slipping, people. Standards are slipping...

All the episodes are about fifty-five minutes long and, of course, you don't have to endure any ads so it's straight down to business. My favourite episode on the whole box-set was THE HOUSE THAT BLED TO DEATH (The House That Dripped Blood, anyone?), which has everything I require in a horror story, with some nice bare titties thrown in for free. 

Gratuitous nudity being a favourite staple of the HAMMER diet of course, haha. I had a boyfriend once who said he always watched the HAMMER HORROR movies when they came on the telly because 'you were always guaranteed a flash of diddies...' Sweet. I can hardly say I blame him. Some of these diddies are really rather nice, you know...!

'I hope you'll be very happy here,' says the actor Milton Johns (as Mr. Powers) ominously, as he hands over the keys to their new home to William and Emma. They're a lovely young couple with a pretty blonde little angel of a daughter, Sophie, who is a million times better behaved than the kids of today, I must say.

William and Emma are thrilled to bits about their new home. It represents a kind of fresh start to the couple. William, who looks like a sexy cross between David Essex and Christopher Walken, has worked on the cruise ships and has therefore spent a lot of time away from his family.

Now, they've got a chance to start over. What they don't know, however, is that their little house on a nice quiet street was once the site of a gruesome murder. And as time goes on, it starts to look as if the house still bears the scars of that terrible time.

Could the house be haunted by the ghosts of the previous inhabitants? Almost certainly. Does the house wish any harm to William, Emma and Sophie, not to mention Timmy the Cat (as opposed to Timmy the Dog from Enid Blyton's FAMOUS FIVE books!)? That's the sixty-four-million dollar question, folks...

I loved this episode to bits. No CGI or cheesy graphics. Just a few stark props, a set of false teeth, a pair of old spectacles and an old lady's knitting needles set the scene for us perfectly. The horror is there, menacingly underlying everything that the little family do in their new home.

The birthday party scene was excellent as the big clincher, the scene that proves once and for all to everyone that the house is evil. I enjoyed this scene for another reason too, though. It was pretty heartening to see a well-mannered little girl gratefully and delightedly accepting a cuddly bunny rabbit toy as a present.

Not like the brats of today, opening tablet after expensive tablet with a bored expression of entitlement on their boat-races and the word 'Next!' on their lips. Kids today don't know they're bloody well born. Not like us adults. We had it rough by comparison!

WITCHING TIME sees the aristocratically handsome Jon Finch (FRENZY, Roman Polanski's MACBETH, HAMMER's THE VAMPIRE LOVERS) being tormented by a sexy witch from the past who wants to have sex with him around the clock. A sex-witch, you say? What the f**k's he complaining about...?

Not much, to be honest. He rather enjoys being repeatedly ravished by the feisty red-headed Mistress Lucinda Jessop, who narrowly escapes being burned as a witch in 1627 by leaping forward in time several hundred years into the arms of musician David Winter.

And why shouldn't David enjoy a lot of vigorous humping with the lusty, constantly laughing nudie Mistress Lucinda? After all, his missus Mary is having it away with the family doctor. The trouble only arises when the jealous and possessive Lucinda decides that she wants to have the bewildered David all to herself. That means that Mary must be put out of the picture, and fast...

THE THIRTEENTH REUNION, directed by HAMMER director Peter Sasdy, features a kind of Weight-Watchers club that employs a rather unusual method of helping its members to slim down and 'think thin.' Verbal abuse and public shaming at the meetings is their modus operandi. It's not terribly nice to witness.

'Isn't she fat? Isn't she ugly? Isn't she repulsive? You ought to be ashamed to be seen in public, Joyce. Do you enjoy making men turn away in disgust?' Needless to say, poor Joyce is in bits after it's her 'turn' to stand in front of the group and be told the unpleasant 'truth' about herself by a sergeant-major-type masquerading as a fitness coach.

Things are even worse, though, for journalist Ruth Cairns. Commissioned by her editor on the Women's Page of the magazine she writes for to investigate the aforementioned dubious 'THINK THIN' club, she actually ends up poking her nose into the business of an extremely dodgy funeral parlour as well. This results in Ruth biting off considerably more than she can chew, and I use these words deliberately, mwah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha...

The writing in this one is excellent and witty. When asked by the attractive Ben, who later turns up in television crime drama DALZIEL AND PASCOE (however you pronounce 'DALZIEL,' you're wrong!) if her 'coast is clear romantically,' Ruth replies with a roll of her eyes:

'My coast is so clear you can see right down to the sea-bed, and there's only a couple of wrecks down there...!'

Brilliantly funny stuff. That's what I'm saying next time I'm asked the dreaded question, haha. This entire episode is tongue-in-cheek and terribly funny, and our dear pal Dracula even gets a couple of mentions here. It's always good to give a nice respectful shout-out to our Master. You never know when he might be listening in on the conversation...

Speaking of Dracula, HAMMER royalty Peter Cushing turns up in A SILENT SCREAM, by the way, in which the tables are well and truly turned on a former Nazi concentration camp guard who's got some funny- or should that be un-funny- ideas about controlling people and animals. Denholm Elliott doesn't know whether he's awake or dreaming in RUDE AWAKENING. 

GROWING PAINS sees a research botanist and a charity worker replace their deceased son with a giant rabbit, I mean, with another boy, and GUARDIAN OF THE ABYSS has a bunch of weirdo culties trying to raise a hideous demon with a much-sought-after piece of silverware called a 'scrying glass,' so you'll actually learn a few things in this one that you mightn't have previously known. I did myself, anyway. Nothing in there about snagging a rich husband, unfortunately, but if I need to summon up a demon to do my bidding or whatever, I'm all set-up.

One thing I thought of while I was watching these episodes is how little call there is for a Witchfinder these days. I mean, you don't see many places advertising for them any more. It'd probably be funny if you did. What would the advertisement even say?

'WITCHFINDER WANTED FOR LOCAL COMPANY . MUST HAVE OWN TRANSPORT, MATCHES AND BUCKLE-Y HAT. MUST HAVE FETAC LEVEL 5 IN WITCH-FINDING AND A MINIMUM OF FIVE YEARS EXPERIENCE. OPPORTUNITIES FOR ADVANCEMENT AND ALL THE ALE YOU CAN SWILL TO THE RIGHT APPLICANT...'

HAMMER HOUSE OF HORROR: THE COMPLETE SERIES is available to buy now in a Blu-Ray box-set from NETWORK RELEASING in conjunction with BLUE DOLPHIN PR & MARKETING. It's more than worth your time and money and it's a terrific collector's item.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com







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