Night #29: Hammer House Of Horror: The Two Faces Of Evil (1980)

Directed By: Alan Gibson

Who said I had to watch movies exactly? If I want to throw a bit of television in here then I will. There’s no rules here.

Hammer House Of Horror didn’t run for very long and, like pretty much any anthology show, it had ups and downs. Thankfully the ups can be pretty damn great, as this 50 minutes can attest to.

On a country road we meet a cheery family; mother Janet, father Martin and son David. Having a family singalong, they seem impossibly happy in that white, middle-class way that makes you feel a bit sick. By the side of the road they notice a figure, dressed in a slick yellow mac and hat, the kind a fisherman would wear. Then, they notice him again and offer him a lift. Soon enough he attacks Martin, scratching his face with the long nail on his middle finger. Suddenly the car crashes and the family wake up in hospital, alive but a little worse for wear. However, things are not quite what they seem and soon enough Janet is plunged into a nightmare.

So I’m keeping that a little vague on purpose because this is such an effective hour of television that spoiling any more beyond that would be a shame. Of course if you want to read up on it and spoil things for yourself then you can. Here’s what I will say; after the initial twenty minutes the show unveils a twist that is actually fairly predictable and I admit my heart sank a little as I thought I knew where it was going. But to my surprise, and delight, they went in a very different direction. There’s sometimes the worry that watching TV shows won’t still hold their ability to shock or scare and while I’m sure in some cases that’s true (Sci-Fi can age particularly poorly) it’s not the case here. As the anchor to the whole thing, Anna Calder-Marshall gives a great performance as a woman becoming increasingly unhinged. And she’s ably abetted by Alan Gibson’s direction. I particularly liked the early scenes in the hospital where the long hallways and blocking create a great sense of being overwhelmed even though what’s transpiring on screen is actually fairly mundane.

All in all it’s great, and you can find it here. Watch it and then catch The House That Bled To Death for your spooky evening viewing. Chilling TV is for life, not just for Halloween.

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