The House That Bled To Death
An old man poisons his wife and proceeds to set about chopping her up. Cue the splendid theme music composed by Roger Webb (sweet memories). We move forward and a family move into the now empty house and experience a series of terrifying events culminating at a children’s party.
What a cracking opening to this legendary series. I was pleasantly surprised by how well this series has stood the test of time. I haven’t seen it since I was ten; I remember it terrifying me back then. The children’s party scene stands out and the ending is wonderfully unexpected and deliciously macabre. Stars Nicholas Ball as William and Rachel Davies as Emma.
The Silent Scream
Enter legend Peter Cushing as a pet shop owner with a sinister obsession; he wants to create prisons without bars and uses wild animals in his experiments. He captures a man, Chuck (Brian Cox), who has just got out of prison. The man’s wife, Annie (Elaine Donnelly), goes to the pet shop after hours looking for her husband and is captured herself.
Cushing is on fine form and with a young Brian Cox too this is another great episode. The ending is chillingly devious.
The Two Faces Of Evil
A family pick up a mysterious hitchhiker who attacks the husband, Martin (Gary Raymond), and causes them to crash. When the wife, Janet (Anna Calder-Marshall), wakes up in the hospital she discovers her son and husband are alive, although her husband has a serious injury to his throat and cannot speak, however, the police want her to identify a body which may be that of the hitchhiker.
An intriguing episode with a great central idea that builds to a supremely dark conclusion.
The Mark Of Satan
A man undergoing brain surgery pleads with those present to leave his soul alone. Another man, Edwyn (Peter McEnery), who works in the mortuary of a hospital is disturbed by the recurrence of the number 9 all around him as well as people wearing sunglasses. He turns to his lodger, Stella (Georgina Hale), and a priest, Father MacIntosh (Anthony Brown), but is he mad or is what’s happening to him due to a conspiracy of evil as he believes?
This chilling little tale delivers. Frighteningly good.
This one stars Patricia Quinn (Magenta in The Rocky Horror Picture Show ’75) as Lucinda Jessop, a witch from the 17th century who has travelled through time, returning to the farm where she was born. The current occupant of the farmhouse, David Winter (Jon Finch), finds her hiding in the barn and locks her in a room in the farmhouse. He calls Dr. Charles Henderson (Ian McCulloch) but when he takes the doctor to the room, Lucinda has gone. When the doctor leaves, Lucinda mysteriously returns. She seduces David and terrorises both him and his wife.
This is great fun, also stars Prunella Gee as David’s wife, Mary, and Lennard Pearce (Yes, Grandad from Only Fools and Horses) as the rector. It was nice to see Patricia Quinn in another role, having only seen her as Magenta. Builds to a rollicking finale.
Visitor From The Grave
A woman, Penny (Kathryn Leigh Scott, ex-Playboy Bunny), is disturbed by an intruder (Stanley Lebor) who is looking for her husband one night and shoots him in the face. When her husband, Harry (Simon MacCorkindale), returns home the next day Penny is hysterical and tells him what happened and together they find the intruder’s body in the nearby woods. Harry buries the body and dumps the man’s car in a lake while Penny cleans up the blood. Penny sees the dead man’s ghost, first in the house, then following a tarot reading at a party, then again in a car. She hopes the psychic from the tarot reading, called Margaret (Mia Nadasi), can help but the psychic isn’t strong enough; Margaret calls on a swami called Gupta Krishna (Gareth Thomas in two roles as Gupta and the constable).
An interesting episode that plays its tarot cards close to its chest. When Gupta arrives, things get a little more hammy than Hammer. I saw the twist coming early on, a distant memory perhaps, but I enjoyed the episode. More please!
Denholm Elliott plays Norman Shenley, a real estate agent who has strange dreams/nightmares about his sexy secretary, Lolly (Lucy Gutteridge), an old mansion and accusations of murdering his wife, Emily (Pat Heywood). He wants a divorce from Emily, whom he despises, so he can marry Lolly but Emily refuses to entertain the prospect. Dreams become confused with reality.
I really liked this one. Denholm Elliott is a legend and it’s great to see him in this series. Lucy Gutteridge gives great support as the chameleonic and vivid Lolly. Fantastic dream sequences lead to a satisfactory conclusion. Also stars James Laurenson as the mysterious Mr. Rayburn.
A man, Graham Elder (Leigh Lawson), inherits his uncle’s art collection. His wife, Sarah (Angela Bruce) keeps an African fetish (religious object) which she names Charlie Boy. Graham suspects Charlie Boy’s voodoo powers when people mysteriously begin to die around him. Graham turns to Heinz Hoffman (Marius Goring) for advice.
I remember this episode from years ago, when I was 10. I remember other bits of the series too but ‘Charlie Boy’ stands out for some reason, even the name, maybe the concept of voodoo was of particular interest to me at the time(?); I really don’t know. Anyway, it’s another great episode; this series is chock-full of ideas and as I reach the final part of my review I’m really glad I bought this series to relive it all over again, albeit years later from a much different (older) perspective. Also stars Michael Culver as Mark and Michael Deeks as Phil.
Children Of The Full Moon
Starts with a little girl stroking and singing to a lamb lying in the grass, close by are two German shepherd dogs growling. As the girl moves out of the way we see that the lamb’s throat has been torn out, the girl turns around, her mouth covered in blood. A couple, Tom and Sarah Martin (Christopher Cazenove and Celia Gregory), are heading to a cottage in the countryside on their honeymoon when Tom loses control of the car before it breaks down on them. They leave the car and begin walking. Soon they come across a mansion in the woods where they meet Mrs. Ardoy (Diana Dors) and her children. Terrifying things happen during the night and Tom wakes up in the hospital; did he dream the whole thing? Sarah says the car crashed.
This is the werewolf episode I vaguely recollect from the 80s. I thought this was really good, there’s plenty of atmosphere and who doesn’t enjoy a good tale about werewolves? Also stars Robert Urquhart as Harry and Jacob Witkin as the woodsman.
The Thirteenth Reunion
A reporter, Ruth Cairns (Julia Foster), is assigned to investigate a new weight loss organisation called ‘Think Thin’. While there she witnesses the ill-treatment of one of the participants by a man called Willis (James Cosmo). She also becomes romantically involved with another participant, Ben Faraday (Warren Clarke), albeit briefly, Faraday is killed shortly after they meet, in a car accident. At Faraday’s funeral, Ruth meets a man called Andrew (Gerard Kelly), a funeral director who is suspicious of his employers, Basil (Norman Bird) and Cedric (George Innes) Ashford. Together, Ruth and Andrew investigate, turning up a headless corpse at the mortuary. The investigation eventually leads Ruth to a large mansion where she finally discovers the terrifying truth.
Wonderfully macabre little story with a chilling finale. Also stars Dinah Sheridan as Gwen, Kevin Stoney as Rothwell and Richard Pearson as Sir Humphrey Chesterton.
A man picks up the wrong girl and takes her to his ‘secret room’, she doesn’t break his heart, she cuts it out. (Cue music!) Detective Inspector Clifford (Anthony Valentine) hears about a book on the radio, with a basis in fact, in which the murderess, a countess, cuts out the hearts of her lovers with a dagger. He meets the author, Natalie (Suzanne Danielle), who reminds him the countess lived three hundred years ago. Clifford wants Natalie to introduce him to a descendant of the countess that she has traced, Mrs. Henska (Siân Phillips). He meets Mrs. Henska and learns more about the real-life countess. Mrs. Henska’s nephew Tader (Jonathan Kent), a female impersonator, becomes a suspect.
Also stars a young Pierce Brosnan in an early part. Suzanne Danielle is super sexy as Natalie and Anthony Valentine convinces as Detective Inspector Clifford. The depiction of the murders is very restrained but it holds the attention well and I really enjoyed the episode. The conclusion is excellent, a real staple of this series. Only two episodes to go! I will really miss rediscovering this series. Also stars Gary Waldhorn as Bacharach.
Guardian Of The Abyss
A girl (Sophie Thompson) is told to look into a strange mirror during an occult ritual by black magician Charles Randolph (John Carson). She sees a demon/devil (Choronzon) in the mirror and becomes hysterical. An antiques dealer, Laura Stephens (Barbara Ewing), successfully bids for the possessions of an earl at an auction, they include an identical mirror to the one used in the ritual. A man, Simon Andrews (Paul Darrow), wants to buy the mirror off Laura for a fiver but antiques exporter, Michael Roberts (Ray Lonnen), says he can get it appraised for her; despite Simon raising his offer to £50 she takes Michael up on his offer instead of selling. Another girl, Allison Lussan (Rosalyn Landor), escapes from Randolph’s occult group; while she’s escaping, Michael almost runs her down. He takes her back to his house where she explains that the mirror is a powerful scrying glass, an occult tool, possibly the original, made by John Dee. She says the Choronzon Society, led by Randolph, would pay a lot for it. Allison steals the mirror but returns it later asking Michael for his help.
A great episode involving occult rituals, voodoo and hypnotism , complete with token chicken sacrifice and a typically chilling conclusion. Also stars Caroline Langrishe as Tina.
A young boy, William Morton (Christopher Reilly), dies after eating pills found in his father’s laboratory. His father, Terence Morton (Gary Bond), and mother, Laurie Morton (Barbara Kellerman), adopt a boy called James (Matthew Blakstad) from a children’s home. While driving James home Laurie inexplicably loses control of the car, the first of a series of strange and frightening events. While walking the dog, Nipper, James finds William’s grave. Shortly after, Nipper massacres all but one of the rabbits used in Terence’s research. Laurie thinks something evil is happening in the house.
A brilliant final episode, I remember being horrified by the bunny massacre when I was ten, still quite shocking. The conclusion is a strange one and marks the end of this terrific series sadly. I highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t seen it or to anyone who, like me, vaguely remembers seeing it and wonders if it’s worth revisiting; it is.