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Hammer House of Horror

ON-ITS-LAST-LEGS FINAL throw of the dice for the fine folk at Hammer, basically boiling down essence of numerous 60s/70s films into hour long made-for-TV (i.e. made for America) soupcons of suspense. Not bad, all told, with extra points for running amok with the kind of gore and guts which always got your mates excited in the playground the day after. Masterminded by the amusingly-named ROY SKEGGS. Highlights included:

– Lady journo investigating a health farm that turned out to be a cover for a load of plane crash survivors busy fattening up the staff then eating them. Heroine ended up, ahem, “just desserts”.

– DENHOLM ELLIOTT having dreams about doing his secretary, only for her to die horribly falling down lift shaft because he wouldn’t kill his wife. On waking he’d find said secretary sporting new kinky outfit on (including a school uniform, a plastic mac, 70s disco gear), then do it again (once inside a telephone box, with nipples on show). Eventually after having about five dreams within dreams he does kill his wife – but this time he was awake…

– PETER CUSHING devising a complex electric current lock to keep a couple hostage, only for them to escape, shove him in the cell and leave him there. On returning home they found themselves sealed in their own house – Cushing previously fixing locks in cruel act of foresight – and everyone starves to death.

– DIANA DORS (all the big names here) in a werewolf tale that involved CHRISTOPHER CASENOVE and a woman off TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED stopping at deserted farm house (bad move), getting raped, then fancying some raw meat. Pregnancy follows, she runs off, husband follows, new baby werewolf, dead wife in childbirth and Chris Casenove gets cleavered by the main man werewolf.

– Pissed off businessman sticks his knife five times into a voodoo doll as he’s angry at a partner who screwed him over. Unfortunately the picture of the man he wanted to curse also included four other people (including the business man and his wife). So for the next hour it’s death on toast: man falls off roof, man falls off horse onto combine harvester blades, woman slits her wrist open in the bath, business man’s wife goes through car window and then drowns in pond. The main man realises the inevitable, tries to burn the idol, but trips and falls in the fire himself, and that was the end of that.

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  1. goodpudding

    October 2, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    Now being repeated on the titular (sic) Men and Motors, with said episodes being in the latest run.

    The Denholm Elliott one last to be seen on there… All because it was Friday the 13th… Hmm, ok!

  2. bisted

    October 3, 2009 at 4:50 am

    I loved this show!
    Let’s not forget the CLASSIC episode called ‘The House That Dripped with Blood’. This featured probably the most memorable scene of all when the water pipes in a living room burst. But it wasn’t water that sprayed out of the pipes, but blood… all over a kiddie’s birthday party.
    This was an underrated show.
    Because I lived above my parent’s restaurant which closed at 2am, they were too busy to put me to bed and check on me, which meant I watched a lot of horror stuff, ESPECIALLY this series. It was always shown on a Saturday night or late on a Monday in the Anglia TV region.

  3. johnnyboy

    October 3, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    It was on one of the ITV channels recently. I admit – ‘The house that dripped of Blood’ was really scary; and had a fantastic twist as well. Never saw THAT one coming!

  4. Angryhead

    October 3, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    I seem to remember an episode which dealt with a family who were all killed and replaced with clones one-by-one. Only the mother / wife figure of the family escaped this fate… well, until the final scene, anyway when she’s stretchered into an ambulance.
    The scene closes with her scary-looking young, now-cloned son eerily looking out of the ambulance window as it drives away. For some reason this scared me at the time. I used to watch a lot of horror films as a kid and none of them frightened me, but for some reason, this gore-free ending did.

  5. Peter Cushty

    October 3, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    The clones episode was one of the best they ever did, full on Invasion of the Bodysnatchers chills. Everyone who gets cloned has some kind of fresh scar, and most disturbing of all, I don’t think there was any explanation for any of it!

    The other really good one was the Denholm Elliott nightmare one, really nicely done that.

  6. Lee James Turnock

    May 1, 2010 at 11:40 am

    I’m amazed ITV got away with foisting so much mean-spirited gore, mayhem, death on toast and fucked-up madness on the innocent public back in the day. Bloody great!

  7. Paul Gatenby

    August 29, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    And the one with the composer (Jon Finch?) who somehow ends up getting fresh with the reincarnation of a witch in his stable. Two things: there are lots of nice seventies cars in this series, and an awful lot of topless actresses (including the woman who played the female Lister in Red Dwarf).

  8. DarrenM

    September 16, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    Even now at the age of 40, I wouldn’t fancy watching the clone one again. It all started when the family picked up a hitchhiker who had a huge sharp dirty fingernail which he proceeded to stick into the dad’s face…

  9. Lee James Turnock

    June 18, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    The 1984 sequel of sorts, the Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense, was unfortunately a huge disappointment. The episode everyone remembers is, of course, Child’s Play, where a suburban family trapped in a house turn out to be the playthings of an outer space alien child a hundred years into the future. Would have been a neat twist if the Twilight Zone hadn’t done it decades before.

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