Complete Hammer House of Horror (Synapse)

hammer-house-of-horrorAfter famed British horror studio Hammer dropped out of filmmaking when its gothic chills and old-fashioned monsters began to lose favor among moviegoers – even if Christopher Lee DID play both Frankenstein’s monster and Dracula and even if Peter Cushing DID play both Van Helsing and Dr. Frankenstein – Hammer turned its attention toward television. The beginning of the 80s saw the arrival of HAMMER HOUSE OF HORRORS. It was titled differently here and trimmed a bit to fit U.S. TV time slots and remove the nudity that popped up from time to time. I don’t know if gore was trimmed or not. At any rate, thanks to Synapse, the entire series is available in one compact package, 5 DVDs full of episodes and special features and an introduction for every single episode, all served up in a regular size DVD case. So don’t judge the package by its size. Like any anthology series, there are weaker episodes and stronger episodes. And while pacing is occasionally a problem with these tales, the good ones outweigh the lesser episodes and I’d be hard-pressed to say that any of the episodes were bad. It was a terrific horror show and maintained Hammer’s moodiness while diverging from the monsters that made Hammer famous. The only traditional movie beast that appears herein is lycanthropic in nature. But fear not, there are plenty of other evils afoot, a different one in each episode. And there are some faces you’ll likely recognize. Even Cushing turns up for an episode. You can also spot a young Pierce Brosnan. At any rate, fans of Hammer and TV horror shouldn’t hesitate if they want this series in their collection. This is packed with the bloody and the forboding; the episodes are presented uncut in their original British broadcast form; and it’s not prohibitively expensive, retailing at around $40 (cheaper via some outlets).

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