CRRRRS 520 Hammer House of Horror: The House That Bled to Death

By Roy Mathur, on 2024-01-17, at 23:32:20--00:20:10 GMT, for Captain Roy's Rusty Rocket Radio Show


A day late taping, though I'll still upload Friday. I'm hanging on by the skin of my teeth.

I said in 513 that I didn't know if it was worth buying the Blu-ray. Although highly overpriced, it may be worth it:

Hammer House of Horror was shot on 35mm, which was highly unusual for a UK TV series at the time, but Hammer effectively treated the series as thirteen short feature films.---Steve Withers, Hammer House of Horror Blu-ray Review,, October 30 2017


Notable Cast: William: Nicholas Ball; Hazell, Lifeforce, Emma: Rachel Davies; Camilla the sexy vampire in Doctor Who: State of Decay (1980) (pod 454), George: Brian Croucher; Blake's 7's second crazy Travis in 1979, Doctor Who: The Robots of Death, A.J. Powers: Milton Johns; Doctor Who (The Enemy of the World, The Android Invasion, The Invasion of Time), Imperial Captain Bewil in The Empire Strikes Back Cloud City scenes.
Director: Tom Clegg (Space: 1999)
Writer: David Lloyd; very few other credits.
Producer: Roy Skeggs; ex-Hammer Films, formed spin-off Cinema Arts, returned to Hammer, moved production to Buckinghamshire and created Hammer House of Horror.
Locations: Various in and around Buckinghamshire (1980). This episode: semi in Chairborough Rd, shop in Mentmore Rd, High Wycombe and a house in Loudwater, all in BUCKS.
Production: Hammer Films, Cinema Arts, and ITC Entertainment
Distribution: ITV
Music: The memorable theme music was composed by ex-Jazz pianist Roger Webb.
Broadcast: Episode 5 of 13, first broadcast 11 October 1980, 54 minute running time (c. 1 hr inc. ads), follows Growing Pains (pod 513).
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).


No. 1 UK: The Police's Don't Stand so Close to Me and the USSR tested a nuke in a tunnel in Novaya Zemlya at 07:09:57.47.


Creepy A.J. Powers arranges William, Emma, and their daughter Sophie move to a house where a man poisoned his wife and chopped up and hid her remains.

They are immediately and continually plagued by sinister events: gas leaking, doors locked, bleeding walls, Sophia's cat has it's throat cut, and a burst pipe at her birthday party drenches the children with blood.

While Emma is treated for shock and the house becomes a press sensation. Visiting the hospital, their neighbours are told that William and Emma were not married and the family has left.

Cut to a luxury villa in California three years later and we find out that the haunted house was all a ruse by author A.J. Powers to drum up publicity for a book about the staged ordeal.

The only one not in on the deception was Sophia. Clearly traumatised the episode, she reads A.J. Powers's The House That Bled, opens the suitcase that she left the house with, goes to her parents bedroom and attacks them with the original poisoner's kukri and murders William.


The scene of the old man poisoning his wife's drinking chocolate is hilarious as he makes the worse chocolate ever; boiled over scaled milk, dumped in a cup with bits of poison, sugar, and chocolate floating about in the cup. Perhaps they were rushing the scene? I wouldn't drink that chocolate.

That doll Sophia finds is a comically horrific creepy doll. The prop is obviously a modern plastic doll repainted dead white. It is and totally unnecessary as foreshadowing device to indicate sinister events to come because the whole episode is chock full of them!

The moment I see Brian Croucher I think mad Travis, but he plays a nice enough blokeish next door neighbour. Though blatantly spying on your neighbour's naked wife in front of your own? 70s/80s...

Croucher drives and the camera appears to be looking in from outside the car. How did they do that?

Croucher's a considerate actor. He waits for his wife to proceed first up the stairs in a scene in which they hear a scream. Bad direction/blocking?

The dead cat with its throat slashed open is properly gory. Whether it occurred by a broken window pane or a ghostly flying kukri or, more disturbingly, by William's, Emma's, or A.J. Powers's own hands, it's a nasty scene.

The cat death scene is followed by a brutal example of old school parenting when the mother shakes then slaps Sophia to shock her out of distress.

A burst pipe raining blood on a children's birthday party is the centrepiece (party piece?) of this story.

The house in Buckinghamshire standing in for a Californian villa? Maybe that meant filming the last scene first to take advantage of summer before the weather became typically British grey. The scene works as long as the camera doesn't move around too much or widen the shot, showing not so Californian scenery.

It has the murderous house trope, it's high on the gruesome scale, with a nasty twist ending, and I think the acting's good too, but the direction feels like a hack job.


In lieu of a juicy tidbit, here are William's final words: "I told you not to come in without knocking. Where the hell did you get that? No!"

If you are lucky enough to have children, be good to them... or else.


If I remember, when this is over I shall rate the episodes in order. Remind me if I don't or don't remind me if you don't want me to.