Wednesday, 19 July 2017
740 Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense
First viewed : Winter 1986
This one brings back a few memories. Living back at home that term threw up some challenges. Towards the end of the previous year, I had been elected, at the third attempt , to serve on the Student Union Council which met fortnightly on a Monday. To ensure Councillors took their responsibilities seriously, there was a three strikes you're off attendance policy unless the Council accepted your request / explanation for absence. I was already a strike down for missing a meeting to attend an FA Cup replay where Dale beat Scunthorpe to earn a Third Round meeting with Manchester United. Apparently the vote was close and divided roughly on gender lines.
With something like 30 people at the meetings, they tended to drag on for hours and it was always a bit hairy whether they'd finish in time for me to catch the last train to Littleborough at 10.30 pm. With some avowed political foes in the room, I didn't like asking to leave early too often. By means of some desperate sprinting on occasion , I did manage to retain my place on the Council without being stranded .
I began to notice a young man who also got off that train at Littleborough although I'm not sure where he got on. He looked like one of the Farreys a family I knew from school although he wasn't the one I knew best. On one occasion he was clearly drunk and involved in a physical altercation with a guard. I mention it because a few months later, I caught an item on local news where police were appealing for information about the death of a Carl Farrey who had fallen from a Leeds -Manchester train. Putting two and two together, I went into the police station and told them about the incident I'd seen but it didn't seem to be relevant. I can't give any closure to the story; it's just one of those strange, sad coincidences.
Anyhow, after he'd melted into the night, I'd usually have time to pop into Lords' chip shop just before they closed and get a late supper. When I got in, this would usually be on.
The series was a follow-up to 1980's Hammer House of Horror with a similar number of spooky one-off dramas filmed in 1984. This time round, it was partly funded by 20th Century Fox which meant that nearly all of them had an American lead ( e.g. Dirk Benedict, Mary Crosby, Christina Raines ). Unlike the earlier series it was not nationally networked by ITV with different regions showing it at different times. I'm guessing this might have been because the films were 70 minutes long, an inconvenient length for British television. I don't know whether Granada had broadcast it before this appropriately graveyard slot on a Monday night.
I remember three of them reasonably clearly, none of them having a happy ending. In Last Video and Testament , David Langton from Upstairs Downstairs fakes his own death then leads his wife and her lover into a death trap before fulfilling his pledge to dance on her grave. In Black Carrion , an ageing rocker holds a village in his thrall after they mistakenly lynch his brother . In Czech Mate Susan George finds herself trapped behind the Iron Curtain after a defector steals her identity to make her escape.