Category: TV

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    The Silent Scream (Hammer House of Horror episode 7)

    Lay the right bait, and almost any creature will walk in of its own accord.

    Martin Blueck to Chuck Spillers

    The Silent Scream may be one of my favourite episodes from the Hammer House of Horror series. It doesn’t contain any deaths – not of people anyway – and doesn’t really have much in the way of gore. But where this episode excelled for me was on the psychological level.

    Plus, escaped nazi war scientists always bring with them a particular brand of horror for me. Memories of American Horror Story‘s Dr. Hans Grüper.

    Main Characters

    What is The Silent Scream about?

    Chuck Spillers, played by the excellent Brian Cox, is fresh out of jail and back into the loving arms of his wife, Annie – played by TV actress Elaine Donnelly. Whilst in prison he was visited regularly by an older man, Martin Blueck – played by the ever-charming Peter Cushing. Blueck would talk with him and give him money for his time. Although this initially seemed very generous, it is soon apparent that this was just bait; grooming him for what was to come later.

    True to his word, the day after his release Chuck goes to visit Blueck at his place of work – a pet shop in the centre of town. He goes to say thank you to this old man whom he now considers a friend. Blueck then offers Chuck a job, only in a secret back area of the shop.

    In the back is a large warehouse where Blueck keeps all manner of dangerous and exotic animals in cages. These include Lions, Tigers, Panthers and Baboons. What is perhaps more surprising for Chuck, is the fact that the cages all have their doors open.

    Blueck explains his ambitions to create zoos without bars, where animals can walk freely and still be of no danger – something that Chuck sees the benefit in having just been released from jail. These animals have been conditioned to know that the open doors do in fact contain an electrical field that will instantly kill any who attempt to pass through. Only after the power is turned off, and the loud buzzer is rang, is it safe to briefly step out to get their prepared food.

    Chuck dutifully tends to the animals each day whilst Blueck is away, as he is paid to do. However, Chuck’s attention is continually drawn to a safe housed in the wall on the second floor of the warehouse. He knows he has the skills necessary to open such a safe and obtain the potential fortune within. But his greed may well be his undoing.

    Prisons without bars — my thoughts

    Imprisonment is a big theme in this episode: Chuck has just been released from jail, where he found the confinement particularly hard to cope with; the animals being housed in their open cages with fear of death on exit in Blueck’s warehouse; and even the limitation of locations in the episode. For the most part we are either in the Spillers’ kitchen or Blueck’s shop.

    On writing this it even occured to me that perhaps the prisons that these character’s carry within them are of importance too. The way that Chuck’s desire for more leads him to crack open the warehouse safe, causing his own imprisonment by Blueck.

    A Leopard sits in its cage

    Or even the way that Annie is still bound to Chuck with love, even after his greed and criminal actions lead directly to his being imprisoned. And her being bound to him, attempting his rescue, leads to her own capture by Blueck.

    And finally Blueck himself. His desire to experiment on Chuck and Annie, to create a prison without bars, ultimately leads to the overlooking of his most dangerous captive animals – sealing his own fate

    I found this episode to have a good amount of tension — the most poignant moment just has to be that scene with the puppy. Although not gory, it still manages to leave it’s trace across the rest of the episode. I didn’t find the lack of blood and conventional Hammer Horror deaths to be a thing I particularly missed either. I mean, a bit of gore can be fun alot of the time, but in this story the suspense and tension were balanced enough to carry it on their own.

    The ending was suitably nightmarish for me, although I could see it coming a mile off. This was simply due to a previous scene with Blueck driving away from a location in his car. It was a shame, because had it have been edited in a slightly different way, I believe that the closing scene could have been much more of a surprise twist.


    I loved this episode. The over-arching theme of imprisonment and being beholden to the desires we carry within us was an interesting one. Some of these episodes can be a bit hit and miss for me, but there are enough good quality episodes, like The Silent Scream, that really hit the mark.

    I enjoyed seeing the legendary Peter Cushing in the role of Blueck. I was so used to him portraying the side of good, like as Van Hellsing in the Dracula films and Sherlock Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles. So it was a real treat to see him in such a dark role.

    (I know he played Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars too, but I’m only thinking of the more horror-themed films here)

    Also Brian Cox playing Chuck Spillers. He has one of those faces that I knew I recognised – I just couldn’t remember from where. Then I read his filmography and saw, amongst many other entries :

    1995BraveheartArgyle Wallace

    Instant recollections of the opening scenes from Braveheart hit me. That’s where I know him from!

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    Charlie Boy (Hammer House of Horror episode 6)

    Charlie boy is about a couple, Graham and Sarah, who come into possession of an African idol after Graham’s uncle dies. (Sarah gives the idol the name Charlie Boy). Unbeknown to the couple, the idol is cursed and is in fact a voodoo statue.

    What is Charlie Boy about?

    Close up of Charlie Boy
    Close up of Charlie Boy

    After a disagreement with his brother, Graham – sitting at home nursing a drink – takes out his anger on the Statue. He does this as he is looking at a photograph of five close friends, himself and his brother included. The rest of the episode is then about the systematic killing (or accidental deaths) of all who appear in said photograph in the order they appear.

    The episode had some juicy deaths in its 51 minutes including a man getting thrown off a horse and on to some plough spikes. Others I can’t reveal for fear of spoiling aspects of it for you, should you choose to watch it. This story is one of the grimmest to watch overall – nobody really has a good time in this one. That being said I do enjoy a good downer of a story – there’s no light without shade.

    A weaker example of the series

    Charlie Boy had some potential to be a great episode but unfortunately fell a bit short for me. One big thing that let it down was the soundtrack. At times the music felt like it belonged somewhere between Confessions of a Window Cleaner and Foxy Brown. It’s a shame because the idea itself was a sound one that fits with the rest of the series well. It just seemed to be poorly executed by people who had no real vision of what Hammer Horror is.

    Graham and Sarah examine Charlie Boy
    Graham and Sarah examine Charlie Boy

    In Summary

    This is one episode of The Hammer House of Horror that I think you could comfortably miss. It does have some redeeming qualities, such as a higher death count to previous episodes. So it isn’t all doom and gloom. But yer, not the best one.

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    The House That Bled to Death (Hammer House of Horror episode 5)

    The House That Bled to Death kicks off strong and stays strong throughout its 50 minutes. It keeps a sustained anxiousness until it’s very final scenes.

    What is ‘The house that bled to death about?

    The House That Bled To Death opening
    The House That Bled To Death opening

    The darkest and coldest opening of the series so far. An elderly couple are together in the kitchen about to have a cup of warm milk before bed. The husband heats the milk and slips a dark powder into one of the cups. As he sits there and lets his wife drink the tainted milk, not a word is exchanged. We have no idea as to why he is murdering his wife and in the world of Hammer House of Horror it doesn’t really matter.

    Fast forward some time ahead and we are with this episode’s family, the Peters family. They are buying the very same house where the murder occurred, unknowing to them, from one of the creepiest estate agents in a TV series ever. As soon as they begin moving in, strange things start happening – doors jamming, strange visions and the most gruesome death of an animal I’ve seen in the series thus far.

    As they try to bare the strange goings on in the house, tensions are increased both within the family and with the neighbours and friends. The poltergeist-like happenings culminate with the most shocking child’s Birthday party I’ve ever seen. But just when you think it’s all over, we see one of the most interesting – in my opinion – closing scenes of an episode of Hammer House of Horror I’ve watched.

    I wonder about the child actors

    Every time I see these sorts of series or films I can’t help but wonder how the children are affected. I mean, obviously if there’s a dead body the child wouldn’t necessarily need to physically see it. Through the magic of editing this effect can be produced. But when you have a scene such as this episode’s Birthday party, where the children are directly affected, this must be an awkward conversation with the young actors’ parents.

    Sophies Birthday Present
    Sophies Birthday Present

    Nonetheless the child actors do a really good job in this episode. Their terror is almost palpable – which is worrying on a couple of levels. Sometimes I find the younger actors more convincing than their superiors. This could simply be down to the fact that children, in their very nature, are innocent. So the horrors that befall them are that much more horrific.

    In Summary

    Definitely one of the strongest and most memorable episodes of the Hammer House of Horror TV series. The House That Bled To Death has everything you could want from a hammer horror series.

    The feeling of claustrophobia is maintained throughout most of the episode from being limited to the interior of their house. The house too is not a house that would necessarily stand out. You would see many houses like it passing through most built up city suburbs. This in itself is scary. The fact that it isn’t some huge eerie castle or dark, set-back mansion. This is a regular house, for regular families, who have to endure some far-from-regular things.

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    Growing Pains (Hammer House of Horror episode 4)

    We open the episode to see a small boy looking around a laboratory at the different coloured powders on the shelf. He then proceeds to eat one of the powders, which immediately sends him into a trance-like fit before dying on the grass outside. His parents run out after hearing breaking glass only to find their son, William, dead in the garden.

    Matthew Blakstad as James
    Matthew Blakstad as James

    After the tragic opening we move to some time in the near future, the length of which is never revealed. The mother is picking up her newly-adopted son, a very polite – and slightly odd – young boy. After a near-fatal accident on the way home, the boy starts to become integrated into the family.

    However, something just doesn’t sit right with the parents Terence and Laurie – something about their new son just isn’t right. After an increasing number of strange, and graphically horrific, occurrences happen around the home and the father’s lab, the story ends on a darkly melancholic note.

    Put the bunny back in the box

    I find that any horror that is being told is almost always amplified when children are involved. Whether that involves the child as being either the victim or the perpetrator. Take the rabbit killing scene for example: if an adult breaks the neck of a rabbit on screen, yes it is horrible. However, put that action into the hands of a small child, whether possessed or not, and the violence takes on a whole new angle.

    Hammer House of Horror was going places and trying things that other shows at the time just weren’t doing. At least that’s what I believe based on my limited research. We can see parallels with modern anthology series like Black Mirror and Inside No 9, which themselves are doing things others just aren’t. Both of these no doubt took some of their cues from this TV series.

    Gary Bond as Terence Morton
    Gary Bond as Terence Morton

    Although this episode was a bit of a slow burn for me, there was still enough to enjoy it as a whole. I thought the child actor at the time, Matthew Blakstad who played adopted son James, was suitable creepy. But from all of the reviews / critiques I’ve read of this episode, all mention him as being an evil boy. Although that was the impression I had from the start, I didn’t feel that by the end. Instead, I believe him to be a sheltered boy who unwittingly becomes possessed by the late Willam.


    This episode is definitely the weakest of the first three i have watched so far. Although it did have a few redeeming qualities for me. You wouldn’t be missing too much if you bypassed this episode. But, for any of you fans of the Hammer House of Horror series, you should find enough interest to warrant 50 minutes of your time.

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    The Thirteenth Reunion (Hammer House of Horror episode 2)

    Leading on from the series’ opener, Witching Time, is the second episode of the eighties British anthology series Hammer House of Horror. The Thirteenth Reunion is a step away from the supernatural – perhaps consciously so in order to display the show’s diversity.

    What’s The Thirteenth Reunion about?

    Ruth is a newspaper reporter who has been stuck reporting on the mundane for too long. As part of her job, she is sent to a nearby health retreat called “Think Thin”. The owner has some questionable encouragement methods and she is sent to get the story.

    During her first day she meets Ben, a well to do banker who dies that evening. His death occurs soon after taking a slimming pill that was given to him by the clinic. Although she is initially shocked at the news of his death, Ruth wastes no time in turning the suspected foul-play to her advantage. The advantage being the possibility of breaking a potentially big news story on her own.

    Ruth and Ben have drinks in The Thirteenth Reunion
    Ruth and Ben have drinks in The Thirteenth Reunion.

    She is approached at Ben’s funeral by the director, who suspects his bosses of being up to something shady with some of the bodies – Ben’s included. She takes this opportunity to team up with the funeral director to investigate his bosses’ strange goings on. These events set Ruth on her passage of exploration that ultimately lead her to an unforgettable twist ending that will leave you open-mouthed long after the credits roll.

    The horror is not knowing

    There is no way to talk about the closing ten minutes of this episode without ruining it for you. What I will say is that you wont see it coming, not the full story at least.

    All the way through this episode we are kept in the dark almost as much as Ruth is. We do get to see some of the interactions between shady characters that she doesn’t, but never enough to give the game away.

    The Thirteenth Reunion is an episode that plays its cards very close to its chest. The majority of the episode is pretty standard investigative journalist stuff and it isn’t until the final few minutes that the real horror begins. And the majority of that horror is not in what it chooses to show you, but in what it chooses not to.

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    Witching Time (Hammer House of Horror episode 1)

    One evening David is composing the score for a new film when a loud but brief storm hits. When his dog, Billy, goes running off, he pursues it into the nearby horse stables. However, in the stables he doesn’t find Billy; instead he finds a mysterious woman in a black robe lying in the hay.

    Black magic woman

    Lucinda claims to be a witch from the 17th Century who managed to escape her execution by sending herself forward in time to the present day. She is played excellently by fiery red head Patricia Quinn. Lucinda is probably my favourite of the four main characters in this episode. Her portrayal of the ever-maddening witch is an entertaining watch, albeit not as scary as I would expect from this series.

    As she becomes infatuated with David, Lucinda finds new and interesting ways to get inside his mind. Using the knowledge of David’s wife’s infidelity to her advantage, Lucinda slowly twists his mind against her so she can try and have him to herself.

    Winter is coming

    I knew I recognized the actor playing David Winter by not only his face, but also his distinct delivery of his lines. It was none other than Jon Finch, who I remembered from Hitchcock’s underrated ‘Frenzy’. Finch plays David with a similar, direct intensity – even in quieter scenes – that I remembered fondly from Frenzy.

    I enjoyed seeing David’s slow descent into madness as the story escalated towards its heated conclusion.

    Lucinda Jessup frightens Mary

    What happened to Billy?

    Although this is not the strongest – or my favourite – episode of the series, it does have one of my favourite concepts for a story. The horror is downplayed considering it’s the first episode of the Hammer House of Horror. However, there are plenty of unsettling moments that should appease the hardest of Hammer Horror fans.

    Unfortunately nobody knows what happened to billy.

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    The Trip with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon

    The Trip is a British TV sitcom starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. In it, they play semi-fictionalised versions of themselves as they travel to various restaurants in order to review them for a paper. Each series focuses on a single country.

    The story that runs through The Trip is a simple one, giving plenty of space to enjoy the conversations and natural chemistry between Steve and Rob. Often we see them talking over a gorgeous looking meal in one of the restaurants they are reviewing. These conversations then tend to snowball into an array of impressions of famous people. The impressions are hilarious too, which isn’t surprising at all given the calibre of these two comedy legends.

    For me, where this series really shines, is in its ability to make me feel like I’m there with them. I could just as well be on the next table over from them in the restaurant listening in.

    Despite the many laughs this series has, it still has a serious thread running through it. It often explores the characters’ personal side and how they may occasionally veer off the straight and narrow. These moments aren’t played for laughs either; the whole show is very sincere from beginning to end. In fact the laughs that The Trip triggers are as organic as if you were sat in the room with them.

    The friendly rivalry between the two of them is fun to watch as well, with them having occasional digs at one another’s career. There are even times when I’d think one had overstepped the mark. However, I have to remember that they are playing character versions of themselves, not their actual selves.

    At the time of writing, there are three series of The Trip: ‘The Trip’, ‘The Trip to Italy’ and ‘The Trip to Spain’. (The first series was set in the countryside villages in the north of England). It is such a fun series to watch one after the other, and I’ve never got tired of sitting with them as they eat some of the worlds best looking food.

    Here’s some of the moments from the series for you to taste:

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    American Horror Story: Cult (Episode 1 – Election Night)

    American horror story is back for is 7th series this week and not a moment too soon. I really enjoyed the slight departure in last series’ Roanoke story, however it feels good to be back in the familiar horror story format along with the title sequence.

    Only now we see a new kind of horror

    Election Night

    Sarah Paulson in American Horror Story Cult

    We open the story on Election night in the United States – the actual election night we witnessed last year with the election of Donald Trump. This event sets the story off for the two principal characters: Evan Peters’ Kai Anderson, and Sarah Paulson’s Ally Mayfair-Richards.

    Both American Horror Story veterans, Paulson and Peters portray their characters brilliantly as always. Paulson plays one of two women in a same sex marriage with a son, whilst Peters plays a hard line Trump supporter who couldn’t be more excited that Trump got into power.

    Clowns Everywhere

    The result of the election causes Ally (Paulson) to relapse into phobias that she had since conquered – the most notable of these being her fear of clowns. Not only have the series creators took inspiration from the clown sightings of late last year, but they have also brought back an old favourite: Twisty the Clown from series 4 (Freak Show). Although Twisty does only get shown through the visualization of a comic that Ally and her partner’s son is reading, I really hope he somehow makes it in the flesh.

    Twisty the Clown from American Horror Story

    A new type of horror

    American Horror Story has always been known for its graphic display of violence, in all its forms. However, for me the real horror in this episode wasn’t necessarily from the clown gang, or the butchering of a young couple by Twisty, but in the actions and attitudes of people. To be precise, people who now feel authorised to take negative actions against those they consider to be outsiders.

    Another aspect of the horror, and the one that really got under my skin, was when Ally’s new babysitter, who also has a personal connection to Kai, shows her son graphic images of real deaths on the “Dark web”. Essentially explaining to him that it’s good for him to watch it in order to build up his immune system to it. This girl, played by Billie Lourd in her first AHS role, is completely sick in the head: A perfect fit for the show.

    In Closing

    I have good feelings for this series and love the nucleus of the story idea. There have always been elements from our own world in American Horror Story, however, this is the closest the show has felt to being right on our doorstep.

    This could be one of the only good things to come as a result of Trump in power.

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    Twin Peaks is the best show on TV right now

    No TV show goes to places in the way that Twin Peaks does, or indeed even did when its first series aired.

    I’m not talking about level of graphic violence or any sort of shock factor; I’m talking sheer originality. Twin Peaks always has been, and always will be, completely original. From the unique collaboration of David Lynch and Mark Frost, this series has such a depth of story, location, and character that it is a place I’d love to live in real life – even when it’s completely terrifying.

    When people keep talking about the default shows – namely Game of Thrones at the time of writing, I can’t help but roll my eyes a little. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I really like Game of Thrones, but nothing gets under my skin quite like Twin Peaks does. I try to describe it in a way to get other people into it too. I find it hard to put into words but I try. It’s like that feeling of butterflies in your stomach when there’s a huge moment of realisation or connection between characters and / or events. Of course many other series have those reveals, but I honestly don’t think any other show does it in quite the same way.

    Anyone who has seen some of David Lynch’s films should know what I mean about his unique style. He has a certain vision and confidence in that vision to bring truly unique stories, visuals and sounds to the screen. This is no different in the new series of Twin Peaks. If anything his years of cinema between the original series and now, have in the very least strengthened his confidence in his vision.

    Twin Peaks has evolved into 100% unfiltered David Lynch, based on the ideas of both Lynch and Frost, and I fucking love it.

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    The music of Twin Peaks : The Return

    Twin Peaks has always been a show of, amongst many other things, great music. Not only is its soundtrack one of the most instantly recognisable from any show, but Julie Cruise’s performances too were unforgettable. It’s been great to see that the music in Twin Peaks The Return has pushed the music even more front and centre.

    Nearly every episode has featured pretty much a full performance from bands playing in The Roadhouse. And every one has been stunning – not least of all was last night’s performance by none of that Rebecca Del Rio. Fans of David Lynch may remember Rebecca from his film Mulholland Drive and her French performance of Roy Orbsion’s “crying”. 17 years on, and her voice is just as, if not more, powerful than ever.

    Lynch really does have a gift for picking out unique and interesting bands for these shows. Another band I have got back into thanks to Twin Peaks is a dreampop group called “The Chromatics”. The music that these three make is made for the world of Twin Peaks.

    The biggest band to have been featured thus far, as of part 10 at least, is Nine Inch Nails. Trent Reznor and band absolutely kill it and setup the show’s most bizarre and intense sequence to date perfectly.