It has been a long time coming, but the unforgettable, brilliant 1980 TV series, Hammer House of Horror: The Complete Series [Blu-ray]has finally been released by Network on Blu Ray. And, I must say, what a truly fantastic job they have done with this transfer.
Having always been an ardent Hammer horror fan, I used to watch this series religiously every Saturday night when it was first screened in the autumn of 1980. In fact, like Roald Dahl’s Tales of The Unexpected just the year before, the Hammer House of Horror was the ultimate highlight of my Saturday night TV viewing.
The Hammer House of Horror series offered one-hour weekly episodes covering all aspects of the horror genre, from haunted houses to werewolves to witchcraft. The series was further enhanced by the much-welcomed guest appearances of such beloved Hammer stalwarts as Peter Cushing, John Carson and Barbara Ewing. Each story was just a mouthwatering treat for the horror fan, with interesting (and exceedingly creepy) characters and a cleverly crafted plot, which usually had a real jaw-dropping twist at the end.
On the whole, I was thoroughly pleased with most of the stories in this Blu Ray boxed set. The only two episodes which I thought were not as strong as all the others were ‘The Mark of Satan’ (which features a hospital worker who sees the number nine everywhere and is convinced the forces of evil are at work) and ‘Rude Awakening’ (which features Denholm Elliott as a real estate broker who keeps having a recurring dream, which ensues in his murdering his wife).
My special favourites were ‘The Two Faces of Evil’ (the spine-chillingly eerie doppelganger story involving a family man who, after being attacked by a mysterious rain-coated hitchhiker whilst driving along a country road, becomes . . . well, not quite himself anymore) and ‘The Silent Scream’ (which features the wonderful Peter Cushing as an ex-Nazi captor-turned-pet-shop-owner, who imprisons an ex-con down in an electrified basement).
Other episodes which I especially enjoyed were ‘The House That Bled To Death’ (so reminiscent of The Amityville Horror), ‘Charlie Boy’ (about the cursed African doll) and ‘Children of the Full Moon’ (in which Diana Dors gives a magnificent performance as the sinister mother of a whole family of werewolves!).
I only wish they had done another series of Hammer House of Horror. I do believe that at one stage, there was talk of doing more episodes, but apparently this project did not come to fruition. Shame. They did, however, make a similar series under the Hammer banner entitled Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense a couple of years later, although as its title suggests, these stories concentrated more on psychological drama rather than all out horror. Who knows? Maybe Network, or some other company, will release Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense on Blu Ray one day.
If you’re as huge a Hammer horror fan as I am, then I guarantee you will be utterly thrilled with this wonderful Network release of the Hammer House of Horror TV series. I have no complaints at all about the picture quality, as each episode is presented in stunningly colourful hi-definition, to the extent that, dated fashion aside, you would honestly think it had been made just yesterday instead of way back in 1980.
Full marks to Network for doing such a fantastic restoration job with Hammer House of Horror: The Complete Series [Blu-ray]
And if you enjoy reading about Hammer horror as much you enjoy watching it, then you might like to check out my two Hammer horror books below.