HAMMER has risen from the grave as a brand new company that releases some pretty amazing horror films notably, Let Me In and Wakewood.They also released a remake of The Woman in Black recently that left me underwhelmed. While Hammer may be shaking out the rigor mortise, Synapse Films is taking full advantage of renewed interest in some of the works from Hammer Productions former glory. On the coat tails of their Blu-ray release of the Twins of Evil comes a new DVD package of the television program Hammer House of Horrors. As a fan of Hammer I am overjoyed to see this get some new packaging. As a lover of horror these tales are perfect for October and great for some of the teens in the house (if you’re teens can stand boobies and blood).
First off this is a DVD release. It was previously released on DVD and was a television program airing in 1980. I don’t think you’re going to see much quality improvement in any release from the previously DVD incarnation from A&E, but that’s not why you’ll be purchasing this release. You’ll buy it because the packaging and disc holder configuration is streamlined, sleek and … almost kinda sexy. This is how seasonal box sets should come if they’re going to include five discs. They cover artwork variation from the previous incarnation is really a matter of taste, however the Synapse release does seem to fit with the overall Hammer style and mood (even in 1980 when they were shitting the bed). This is not a Blu-ray. I probably doesn’t need to be a Blu-ray.
I provided a pile of mini-reviews on the Dr. Terror FaceBook page recently and you can go back and check them out if you feel up to it HERE. There’s really something to love about most of the episodes. Let me run it down with some quick quips and twits.
The Thirteenth Renunion is as dark as you want it to be and may just make you a bit hungry. I don’t necessarily find this story tremendously original, but there are some little twists that make it distinctly Hammer.
Rude Awakening features Denholm Elliott who always reminds me of Indiana Jones, but is a true veteran artist who can make you laugh as much as he can get your nerves a-jitter. Some truly sexy ladies in this one.
Growing Pains is NOT for Allan Thick fans.
The House that Bled to Death is a total creep out, ghost story lover’s paradise. It takes all your Amityville daydreams and turns them into British TV.
Charlie Boy has me thinking of a twisted version of the Monkey’s Paw or something like that. Not my favorite. Dragged on and pretty much my least favorite episode.
The Silent Scream has been revered by horror fans for years starring Peter Cushing in a rather strange role, ironic twist categorical of early Hammer and Amicus anthologies and an ending that will make you wish horror TV could take a few notes from the Hammer era. This might as well be an O’Henry story.
Children of the Full Moon has me thinking that the damn thing was over 30 minutes through the picture. It also totally had me believing it was a classic ghost story rather than the Lupine direction it eventually went. I suppose that’s my own fault for not catching the title “Children of the Full Moon” up front.
Guardian of the Abyss proves that you can’t have a British horror TV series without having Satan Worshipers.
Visitor from the Grave creeps and crawls straight to the end of sanity and into the arms of an undead rapist.
The Two Faces of Evil (not to be confused with Twins of Evil). Have we all been sufficiently scared not to pick up hitchhikers? The hitcher comes only a few years later and the Twilight Zone has come and long gone. When will we ever learn. Even I have picked up a hitchhiker in my day!
The Mark of Satan might be the origin of the movie Number 23 (or at least it has very similar plot elements). Number Nine. Number Nine. Number Nine. Number Nine. Is this a Beatles record or a Hammer TV program?
Maybe you didn’t pick this one up when it was first released. Maybe you need an updated, unscratched copy or better packaging. This is a good way to go. If you’re happy with you’re A&E copy that is now out of print, I’m not sure I can give you a great reason to pick it up fresh. A few extras but nothing to write home about, this is for people who have yet to buy the series and like Hammer.
Not the best quality but boy do I love this music!
I haven’t gotten the theme song out of my head since I started watching these episodes in late September. I hope to cover it some day to open a Halloween show.
-Dr. TERROR (Yes, that’s an Amicus based pseudonym, but I’m sure you won’t hold it against me).