The Hammer House of Horror (1980) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Most of you have heard of Hammer Films. which became famous as the successor to Universal Studios for the rule of the horror movie universe. They made movies about vampires, werewolves, witches, and other such dark legends, and they made stars of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.

Lee himself has been in about a gazillion movies, and has the singular distinction of having appeared in 45 movies rated lower than 6.0 at IMDb, which probably makes him the undisputed king of bad folms, despite the fact that some of his worst ones don't have enough votes to make the list! His bad movie versatility is astonishing. Don't think he's just a denizen of bad Hammer movies. Oh, sure, he's made plenty of Dracula and Fu Manchu films, but he's made bad movies of all types. His credits include such legendary stinkers as Police Academy: Mission to Moscow, The Stupids, and Airport '77. This guy has some kind of radar that can sense when you are making a bad film, and can somehow link up to it. How did he avoid "Coyote Ugly"?

Of course he has a powerful screen presence, and is as good as one could be in those films. Furthermore, he has 218 credits listed at IMDb, so he also made plenty of worthwhile films along the way. In perspective, the bad ones are only a drop in his career bucket. 

Enough about Mr Lee, the topic today is his home studio. Although they are known for movie productions and not TV efforts, Hammer did produce an obscure and little remembered British TV series in 1980, called the Hammer House of Horror. The series lasted only 13 episodes, and the episodes are only 52 minutes apiece. Some famous actors appear (noted below), but not Christopher Lee. Pierce Brosnan, who was not famous at the time, appears in a bit part in one episode.

The entire series has now been issued on DVD, and it should represent completely new material to you unless you are British and a major fan of obscure TV shows.  


see the main commentary
 1 - "Witching Time". A woman (Patricia Quinn) appears out of nowhere, claiming to be a 17th century witch.

2- "The Thirteenth Reunion". A journalist investigates a shady diet clinic which is more than it seems.

3- "Rude Awakening". A real estate agent (Denholm Elliott) is trapped in a recurrent nightmare.

4- "Growing Pains". An old book contains an incantation that can raise the dead.

5- "The House that Bled to Death". The spirits of former owners haunt the new family.

6- "Charlie Boy". A carved African statute seems to be alive.

7- "The Silent Scream". Peter Cushing runs an evil pet shop.

8- "Children of the Full Moon". One of those things where you wake up and it was all a dream, except maybe it wasn;t, or maybe you;re dreaming now. It stars former bombshell Diana Dors.

9- "Carpathian Eagle". A police inspector's investigation leads him to a Transylvanian Countess. Is she Mrs Drac, or just a comfy chair lady?

10- "Guardian of the Abyss". A mirror with the power to contact hell.

11- "Visitor from the Grave". A young girl kills an intruder, but that doesn't slow him down much.

12- "The Two Faces of Evil". A family picks up a mysterious hitchhiker.

13-"The Mark of Satan". The bodies in the morgue are being used for - who knows?

The quality of the productions is about what you would expect. They are workmanlike, but unspectacular, and not especially memorable.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • full screen (made for TV)

  • 13 full episodes, on 4 disks

  • minimal extras: some stills from the episodes, and a lengthy written History of Hammer films, including a complete filmography

In terms of nudity, the series was a tease. The first episode included extensive nudity. There was an anonymous bare bum in the prologue, just seconds after the cold opening, and the actual episode featured Patricia Quinn topless throughout, and Prunella Gee in her bra and panties for most of the show, including a nipple-peek.

It promised to be a titfest, but it never got that good again. I don't know why. Perhaps the gradual decline of nudity was just a coincidence, or perhaps they responded to external pressure to cut back on the nudity, or perhaps the first episode was a sensationalist tease to aropuse interest in the show. I don't know, but after that auspicious beginning there was only sporadic brief or dark nudity in episodes 3,5, and 6, then nothing at all in episodes 7-13!

Episode 3- a quickest of nipple-flashes from Lucy Gutteridge.

Episode 5- a long look at Rachel Davies topless, but in dim light

Episode 6- a brief flash of breast from Angela Bruce. 

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