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TV Tuesday: Hammer House of Horror (Carpathian Eagle)




As she strips in the adjoining bathroom, the lovely young woman says to the shirtless man under the bed covers, “I’m going to surprise you. Are you ready for this?” Not likely, as she proceeds to brutally stab him with what the authorities later call, “a curved cutting tool.” We learn that this is a “carbon copy” of several other murders that have occurred recently in the area, as well as a series of murders that occurred 3,000 years ago.

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In the Hammer House of Horror episode, Carpathian Eagle, a detective named Cliff (Anthony Valentine) investigates the murders with a woman named Natalie (Suzanne Danielle), who has written about the Countess that lived 3,000 years ago. She introduces him to Mrs. Henska (Sian Phillips), the last descendant of the Countess, who lives with her nephew, Tader (Jonathan Kent), a female impersonator and the number one suspect.

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My biggest problem with this episode is that the killer is revealed at about the halfway point of the story and I don’t understand why the surprise is given away so early. I mean, I understand why; it creates a certain level of drama and misdirection for Cliff. I just think it would have been more effective if the herrings were allowed to swim a little longer before we realized their color was red.

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Another disappointment, but only because we are familiar with him as an actor now, is that Pierce Brosnan appears in an early role as “Last Victim,” but has very little screen time. After two detailed scenes of murder, and an extended scene of a third attempted murder, we see Brosnan only running in the park, inviting the killer up to his flat for “coffee,” then walking up the stairs. He’s the victim not only of murder, but also of unfortunate editing.

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Otherwise, it’s a strong episode and one that I overall enjoyed. The concept of the killings is unusual, but has the potential to manifest in a variety of ways. A psychiatrist explains that we all have images buried in our minds and a traumatic event could cause them to emerge generations later. That idea may end up being a red herring itself with a simpler conclusion. The fact that we don’t know until the very end is one final aspect I appreciate.

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Hammer Horror Film Connections:

  • Anthony Valentine appeared in The Damned (1962) and To the Devil a Daughter (1976).

  • Barry Stanton appeared in Demons of the Mind (1972).

  • Peter Weatherley edited The Anniversary (1968), Blood from the Mummy's Tomb (1971) and Blood from the Mummy's Tomb (1972).

Season 1

Episode 9

Written by Bernie Cooper and Francis Megahy

Directed by Francis Megahy

Starring Anthony Valentine, Suzanne Danielle, Sian Phillips, Barry Stanton, Jonathan Kent Aired November 8, 1980 (UK) RT 52 min.

Home Video Synapse (Blu-ray)

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