Hammer Film Productions is best known for its classic Gothic Hammer Horror films made from the mid 1950's right up to 1976 ( they have recently begun producing horror films again ). During its most productive period, Hammer dominated the horror film market, enjoying worldwide success. In the early 1980's Hammer decided to produce The Hammer House of Horror. The series was shot on film, but as the negatives cannot be located a Blu-Ray version of the series cannot yet be released. UPDATE [ The Blu Ray version is now available ]
The series debuted on 13th September 1980, and it spawned tremendous media interest, in part, because of the reputation that the Hammer Horror films still had. Each episode has a contemporary English setting, unlike the old gothic Hammer Horror films that audiences were used to, and, with one exception, finishes with a downbeat ending. The series drew some top drawer actors like Diana Dors, Denholm Elliot and Anthony Valentine. The most noted actor to appear is Peter Cushing, a mainstay of Hammer films for many years. He appears in The Silent Scream. Cushing admitted that he appeared out of loyalty to the studio.
The Hammer House of Horror was well received both in the UK and around the world. The title shots that started every episode were filmed at Hampden House. Hammer hoped to repeat the success of the series by producing a second series but the finance was not forthcoming. A new backer was found from an American source but came with conditions. One of the conditions was for any new series to tone down the horror elements of the first. Thus, The Hammer House Of Horror was no more. Its new incarnation was called The Hammer House Of Mystery And Suspense and debuted in 1984.
Each episode is self-contained and features a different kind of horror.
Brief synopses of each episode are below:
Witching Time - Lucinda Jessop, a seventeenth century witch, transports herself through time and materialises on
David Winter's farm.
The Thirteenth Reunion - A journalist investigates some strange goings-on at a diet clinic.
Rude Awakening - A seedy estate agent is trapped inside a recurring nightmare.
Growing Pains - A neglected dead son's vengeance from beyond the grave.
The House that Bled to Death - New occupants of a house experience frightening events.
Charlie Boy - An African fetish doll begins to exert a malevolent influence on those around it.
The Silent Scream - A ex-nazi puts an ex-jailbird through a terrifying ordeal.
Children of the Full Moon - A car crash leads a couple to a country mansion where a werewolf is on the prowl.
Carpathian Eagle - A grisly female serial killer is on the loose, and a detective is close on her heels.
Guardian of the Abyss - A secret society try to raise Chorozon - the Guardian of the Abyss - from its slumbers.
Visitor from the Grave - After a woman shoots, kills and buries an intruder, she sees him everywhere.
The Two Faces of Evil - A holidaying family pick up a strange hitch-hiker.
The Mark of Satan - A mortician becomes obssessed by the number nine as he descends into insanity.
According to the IMDB, fans of the series rank each episode of The Hammer House of Horror in the following order ( with the most popular appearing first ):-
1. The Silent Scream (96 pts)
2. Rude Awakening (81 pts)
3. The Two Faces of Evil (70 pts)
4. The House That Bled To Death (56 pts)
5. Charlie Boy (41 pts)
6. Guardian of The Abyss (41 pts)
7. The Thirteenth Reunion (41 pts)
8. Children of The Full Moon (38 pts)
9. Carpathian Eagle (36 pts)
10. The Mark of Satan (31 pts)
11. Visitor From The Grave (26 pts)
12. Witching Time (25 pts)
13. Growing Pains (13 pts)
The Hammer House of Horror had a haunting theme tune which was written by Roger Webb:
See some of the locations at Avengerland