By Roy Mathur, on 2023-10-01, at 23:26:49--00:07:07 GMT, for Captain Roy's Rusty Rocket Radio Show
Greetings again from Castle Royenstein and welcome to the new and continuing revisit of Hammer House of Horror (1980); a British Horror anthology series.
Please follow along with my revisit, as the DVD is easily available and it can also be streamed on ITVX in the UK.
Notable Cast: Norman Shenley: Denholm Elliott; did badly at RADA, better in amdram while a WW2 POW, massive acting portfolio, best known as Indy's friend Dr. Marcus Brody in Raiders of the Lost Ark, Lolly: Lucy Gutteridge; played a character called Molly in Tales of the Unexpected and was a cousin of the last puppet monarch of Egypt, Rayburn: James Laurenson; a very familiar face to the UK screen, Boney, Space: 1999, The Monster Club, etc.
Director: Peter Sasdy, also directed The Avengers
Writer: Gerald Savory; writer and producer, also wrote BBC's Count Dracula (1977) Producer: Roy Skeggs; ex-Hammer Films, formed spin-off Cinema Arts, returned to Hammer Films, moved production to Buckinghamshire, and created Hammer House of Horror
Locations: Various in Buckinghamshire in 1980.
Production: Hammer Films/Cinema Arts/ITC Entertainment Distribution: ITV Music: The memorable theme music was composed by ex-Jazz pianist Roger Webb. Broadcast: Episode 3 of 13, first broadcast 27 September 1980, 54 minute running time, follows The Thirteenth Reunion covered in pod 508.
Media: DVD Hammer House of Horror: The Complete Collection (2002), Blu-ray Hammer House of Horror: The Complete Series (2017), ITVX in the UK (2023).
The number one song in the UK was the Police's Don't Stand So Close to Me. (OfficialCharts.com).
In London, "Marvellous" Marvin Hagler trounced Alan Minter, taking away his WBA/WBC world middleweight title in seven minutes and 45 seconds. Unfortunately, the match ended in a minor riot of crazed Minter fans. (Guardian 2013-10-3).
Wife-hating estate agent, Norman, is having a mid-life crisis and fancies the pants off his sexy chameleon of a secretary, Lolly. The pair want to get hitched, but his wife won't give him the divorce he so desperately wants.
Mr Rayburn pops in to sell Lower Moat Manor. Norman visits the property and hears a voice telling him he shouldn't have murdered his wife on Friday the 13th. He sees her body falling, then awakes in bed from the nightmare.
Lolly can't remember Rayburn, so Norman drives out again, but fails to find the property. He tries to ring his office from a phone box, but hears the accusing voice instead. He is locked within as it fills with choking smoke, until rescued by Lolly, who takes off her black vinyl trench coat, revealing her naked body, and embraces him. Then he awakes again.
Norman visits Lower Moat Manor again and finds it occupied by ghostly Lady Strudwick. The voice accusing him of murdering his wife returns. Rayburn suddenly appears and hangs Norman by the neck. Yet again, Norman awakes.
Norman and Lolly survey some flats, but become trapped as a wrecking ball begins to demolish the building. Lolly falls down an elevator shaft, though Norman escapes, seeing Rayburn before awakening.
Norman's wife makes a doctor's appointment for him. The doctor tells him he has a brain tumour that must be removed immediately. His wife, Rayburn, and Lolly, in surgical garb, perform the surgery, but Norman dies and is moved to the hospital mortuary. He awakes, and crazed, suffocates his wife to death.
At his office, Norman gives Lolly a diamond necklace and says he is free to marry her. However, this Lolly is very different to the earlier versions. She is a strait-laced plainly dressed woman, who is confused by what he says. Rayburn, a police detective, and his men arrive to inform Norman about the murder of his wife. Norman says that it should have happened on Friday the 13th, referring to his dreams. Lolly can't remember the affair and neither can Rayburn remember meeting Norman. Norman is arrested and hauled away. Alone, Lolly answers a call from Rayburn to sell Lower Moat House, but she replies that Norman is indisposed. Turning away, she suddenly snatches the necklace and leaves. The calendar reveals the date: "Fri13".
It's nice to see lauded thespian Denholm Elliot getting downright grubby in his portrayal of Norman, this rather awful man. This does, however, make it a hard watch because it's impossible to sympathise with Norman. When his life goes up in smoke, you lose interest because you feel so little for him.
Elliot is playing a cliched slimy estate agent at his slimiest. Add his attraction to his bimbo secretary (whose name is Lolly because she is a tasty bit-on-the-side) and the hostile wife, and the cliches keep piling on.
Trapped in a nightmare within a nightmare; I didn't think of it at the time, but how Inception is that?
Norman and Lolly are demonstrative in their affection towards one another (as well as lust in Norman's case). Though they say they'd like the relationship to go further, it is very obvious we are supposed to know it won't last and that this is merely a middle-aged man's fantasy careering wildly out of control.
Not only does Lolly seem a gold digger early on, stringing an older man along and, in fact, she does make off with the diamond necklace in the end. Her sexy act is mostly surface. She can switch her affection on and off like a light bulb and her vacantness is cold and sinister.
Lolly's frequently changing wardrobe: glam rocker in tight spandex pants, French beret and black vinyl coat wearer (sexy French resistance agent? Oh, I don't care, it's a good look), 50s belle, sexy schoolgirl, sexy punk, and mousy librarian type.
Titillation? Any scene featuring Lolly, particularly Lolly stripping off her black vinyl trench coat, which is all she is wearing, and snogging Norman in the telephone box. She does, however, keep the beret on. Incidentally, that is one of the few scenes in which I sympathised with poor Norman, as he is interrupted as he wakes from the only dream with a pleasant ending.
Horror? Norman dangling from a noose around his neck as he is hanged by Rayburn.
While I perved over Lolly, I didn't like this story. I couldn't empathise with any of the lead characters. Norman is a shallow and dirty old man, his wife is bitter and miserable (though that isn't entirely her fault), and Lolly is cold, beautiful, and feigns being an air head.
Revisiting this delectible 80s trash is turning me into a Benny Hill ogling Page 3 of The Sun, for which I apologise.
I was given one of those dice-type calendars in the 80s and I haven't seen a similar one since then. Mine was a made of a dark hardwood with gold leaf lettering. It's funny how sentimental we have become for such objects.
I hoped you enjoyed the extra podcasting over Halloween.
Hammer House of Horror will join the classic Doctor Who revisits until I have discussed all stories of both series.
Remember also that I generally alternate between a revisit show and an all-media SFFH show.
Late breaking: as reported in 488 and 505, earlier today the BBC made available the classic series of Doctor Who (except the first story due to rights issues), as well as other Who-related content on iPlayer.
Since the back catalogue is now accessible by most people in the UK, if you ever needed an excuse to jump into my classic Doctor Who revisit started in 2014, this is it.