Hammer House of Horror is a British television series, made in 1980. An anthology series created by Hammer Films in association with Cinema Arts International and ITC Entertainment, it consisted of thirteen 50-minute episodes, which were broadcast on ITV. It was Hammer’s first production after the business passed from Michael Carreras to Roy Skeggs and Brian Lawrence.
Each self-contained episode featured a different kind of horror, and these varied from witches, werewolves, ghosts, devil worship and voodoo, but also included non-supernatural horror themes such as cannibalism, confinement and serial killers. Unlike most Hammer films, the stories all had a contemporary setting.
Early episodes of the series featured gore and some nudity, most notably the opening episode ‘Witching Time’. but as the series began to be broadcast, Hammer head Roy Skeggs realised that the show – broadcast at 9pm on a Saturday evening – was being watched by a lot of younger viewers so pulled back on the more adult elements for later episodes.
On 13 October 2017, Network is releasing the whole series on Blu-ray, newly restored in high-definition.
Buy Blu-ray: Amazon.co.uk
Several episodes were directed by and starred familiar Hammer names, including Alan Gibson, Peter Sasdy, Don Sharp and Peter Cushing. Rosalyn Landor, who stars in Guardian of the Abyss, had previously appeared (as a child) in The Devil Rides Out. Hammer veteran Terence Fisher was scheduled to direct the Peter Cushing episode The Silent Scream, but died before production could commence.
Hammer House of Horror was a ratings success in the UK, but the demise of ITC meant that the planned second series would not be made.
Hammer eventually returned to TV in 1983 with Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense, an American co-production that most fans agreed was a pale imitation.
Reviews [click links to read more]:
“Though it uses original scripts rather than adaptations of published stories, the series feels like an update of Hammer’s earlier Journey to the Unknown, with a mix of contemporary settings, predictable twist endings, mock-gruesome horror, mild sex, familiar TV faces and sly camp that puts it on the shelf somewhere between Nigel Kneale’s Beasts and Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected.” Kim Newman
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Cast||UK Transmission Date|
|“Witching Time“||Tom Clegg||Davis Lloyd||Jon Finch, Patricia Quinn, Prunella Gee, Ian McCulloch, Lennard Pearce, Margaret Anderson||September 13, 1980 (1980-09-13)|
|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 can his wife fight such impelling opposition?|
|“The Thirteenth Reunion“||Don Leaver||Anthony Read||Michael Latimer, Julia Foster, Dinah Sheridan, Richard Pearson, Norman Bird, Warren Clarke, Kevin Stoney, George Innes||September 20, 1980 (1980-09-20)|
|A reporter stumbles upon the bizarre truth behind the secret society and must now fear for her life.|
|“Rude Awakening“||Peter Sasdy||Gerald Savroy||Denholm Elliott, Lucy Gutteridge, James Laurenson, Pat Heywood, Gareth Armstrong, Eleanor Summerfield, Patricia Mort||September 27, 1980 (1980-09-27)|
|Denholm Elliott 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.|
|“Growing Pains“||Francis Megahy||Nicholas Palmer||Gary Bond, Barbara Kellerman, Norman Beaton, Tariq Yunus, Geoffrey Beevers||October 4, 1980 (1980-10-04)|
|When they adopt a new son, it coincides with a series of odd events ans disasters for the father’s research.|
|“The House that Bled to Death“||Tom Clegg||Davis Lloyd||Nicholas Ball, Rachel Davies, Brian Croucher, Patricia Maynard, Milton Johns, George Tovey||October 11, 1980 (1980-10-11)|
|An old house is in a run-down state, unoccupied since it was the scene of a macabre murder, until new occupants move in. It is a house of horror, the shadow of the past bringing new terrors to the couple and a young child, with an unexpected twist at the end bringing even more horror.|
|“Charlie Boy“||Robert Young||Bernie Cooper & Francis Megahy||Leigh Lawson, Marius Goring, Angela Bruce, Frances Cuka, Michael Culver, Jeff Rawle, David Healy, Janet Fielding, Charles Pemberton||October 18, 1980 (1980-10-18)|
|An ancient African idol possessed by the spirit of an evil sorcerer seems to take on a life of its own.|
|“The Silent Scream“||Alan Gibson||Francis Essex||Peter Cushing, Brian Cox, Elaine Donnelly, Antony Carrick, Terry Kinsella, Robin Browne||October 25, 1980 (1980-10-25)|
|Peter Cushing plays a mad scientist who needs human victims to experiment with. His plan is to create a prison that contains no bars. There is no escape because something far worse awaits his victims when they run.|
|“Children of the Full Moon“||Tom Clegg||Murray Smith||Diana Dors, Christopher Cazenove, Celia Gregory, Victoria Wood, Robert Urquhart||November 1, 1980 (1980-11-01)|
|A wealthy couple head off on holiday to the West County but get stranded. They find sanctuary in the woods where a woman played by Diana Dors cares for a number of mysterious children. The husband wakes in a 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 Carpathian Eagle“||Francis Megahy||Bernie Cooper & Francis Megahy||Suzanne Danielle, Anthony Valentine, Siân Phillips, Barry Stanton, Jeffrey Wickham, W. Morgan Sheppard, Pierce Brosnan, Richard Wren||November 8, 1980 (1980-11-08)|
|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. Features Pierce Brosnan in one of his early screen roles.|
|“Guardian of the Abyss“||Don Sharp||David Fisher||Ray Lonnen, Barbara Ewing, John Carson, Rosalyn Landor, Paul Darrow||November 15, 1980 (1980-11-15)|
|Human sacrifice as part of an ancient rite is the unexpected consequence when an attractive antiques dealer unwittingly buys a mirror with mysterious evil power.|
|“Visitor from the Grave“||Peter Sasdy||John Elder||Kathryn Leigh Scott, Gareth Thomas, Simon MacCorkindale||November 22, 1980 (1980-11-22)|
|A seance is held for a girl whose fiancée has been killed in a car crash. She not only hears his voice but comes face to face with his mutilated blackened body. Worse is to follow as she becomes the victim of a macabre heartless plot.|
|“The Two Faces Of Evil“||Alan Gibson||Ranald Graham||Gary Raymond, Anna Calder-Marshall, Philip Latham, Jenny Laird, Brenda Cowling||November 29, 1980 (1980-11-29)|
|Setting off on their holidays, a family unwisely give a lift to a sinister hitch-hiker. After the car crashes, one man is dead and one man is injured. But which one?|
|“The Mark of Satan“||Don Leaver||Don Shaw||Peter McEnery, Emrys James, Georgina Hale, Peter Birrel, Conrad Phillips||December 6, 1980 (1980-12-06)|
|A worker in a hospital mortuary becomes convinced that a conspiracy of evil has chosen him for the devil’s disciple. Are his the rantings of insanity or a desperate cry for help from an innocent soul marked for Satan?|
The series was released on DVD in the UK (Region 2) in October 2002 by ITV Studios. It was released as a four-disc set featuring all thirteen episodes, and includes stills galleries and cast biographies as extras.
The series was released in the US (Region 1) on 11 September 2012 by Synapse Films. It was a five-disc set and features an animated stills gallery, episode introductions from film historian Shane M. Dallman, plus featurettes including “Grave Recollections: A Visit With Kathryn Leigh Scott” and “Hammer Housekeeping: A Visit With Mia Nadasi”
Buy Synapse DVD: Amazon.com