• Classic Horrors Club

TV Tuesday: Hammer House of Horror (Charlie Boy)




Charlie Boy is the best episode yet of Hammer House of Horror, if only because it's one that finally speeds along without any plot slowdowns or detours. I don't know if we want to credit writers Bernie Cooper and Francis Megahy or director Robert Young, but let's credit someone for injecting some forward momentum into the tale. (Actually, it's probably not Megahy; he also wrote my least favorite episode so far, Growing Pains.)

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"Charlie Boy" is the nickname for a fetish doll from central Africa that Graham inherits when his uncle dies by falling from the roof when he's trying to repair the television antenna. Graham's brother, Mark (Michael Culver), got the lion's share of the will while Graham got the art. When I first glimpsed Charlie Boy, I had a quick flashback to Trilogy of Terror (1975), but this relic is more passive in inflicting its curse upon its victims.

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At first, we believe it enacts Graham's innermost wishes. However, there's a more detailed explanation that gives it a deeper purpose. More importantly, it drives the story forward with a race against time element. We learn who will be next on Charlie Boy's hit list and that knowledge creates some nice suspense. Although the characters aren't particularly likable, we don't want to see them in horse accidents that leave them impaled on farm equipment.

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With some of the "accidents" that kill Charlie Boy's victims, we get a Final Destination vibe. This vibe is a little heavy-handed and predictable, though. I mean, really, would an actor on a movie set leave a crossbow loaded and pointing in the direction people will be standing. At that point, we certainly can predict who is going to get an arrow through the heart, although we might not yet have discovered why.

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I like the natural logic used by the characters in Charlie Boy. For example, Graham's wife, Sarah (Angela Bruce), doesn't believe at first that the fetish doll is more than "just a lump of wood." However, as soon as one event leads to another, especially when she may be involved in the next one, she admits the truth. This isn't a story about a crazy person trying to get someone to believe something supernatural is occurring.

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Heinz (Marius Goring), an art dealer that has some experience with fetish dolls (and some culpability in this specific situation) ultimately tells Graham how he can destroy it, although "it won't be easy." It makes for a terrific conclusion where nothing goes right for our hero. Best of all, Charlie Boy, knows when to conclude its story. Luckily, it's a strong enough ending that we don't need a twist… even though that hasn't stopped Hammer House of Horror in the past.

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Hammer Horror Film Connections:

  • David Healy appeared in Lust for a Vampire

  • Robert Young directed Vampire Circus

Season 1

Episode 6

Written by Bernie Cooper and Francis Magahy

Directed by Robert Young

Starring Leigh Lawson, Angela Bruce, Marius Goring, Frances Cuka, David Healy, Michael Culver Aired October 18, 1980 (UK) RT 52 min.

Home Video Synapse (Blu-ray)

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