TV Tuesday: Hammer House of Horror (Children of the Full Moon)
Children of the Full Moon is another strong episode of Hammer House of Horror… the series is really on a roll now. As the title indicates, this one is about werewolves. Even though the main character, Tom (Christopher Cazenove), thinks he may be dreaming after a car accident leaves him with a concussion, the story is never subtle enough for us to ever doubt that the strange goings-on are real.
Tom and his wife, Sarah (Celia Gregory) are stranded in the woods after the aforementioned car accident and must rely on the kindness of a stranger, Mrs. Ardoy (Diana Dors), at the spooky mansion where she lives with "about eight" children. "They're not all mine," she explains. "Some are fostered and some are stepchildren." Mr. Ardoy is mentioned a couple times, but never seen. That's ultimately an important clue.
Told not to leave their room overnight for fear they'll startle the children, the door is nevertheless locked on them. This makes for a creepy, suspenseful scene that starts with an effective jump scare and ends with a growling shadow descending upon Sarah. In between, Tom climbs out the window to explore during a night lit by full moon and accompanied by howling in the woods. At this point, we're 27 minutes into the 51-minute running time.
After that, Tom wakes in the hospital, where Sarah is fine and suggests he doesn't remember anything after the accident. Conversations with his boss, Harry (Robert Urquhart), though, lead him to believe it's more likely the night in the spooky mansion was real, not imagined. For example, he says you're our cold after a concussion and do not have dreams, whether they're good or bad.
Also, Tom senses that Sarah has changed. This is temporarily explained when she reveals that she's pregnant. For us, there's no mystery; we know exactly what happened. And when Sarah takes off for the mansion, we know what's going to happen… we think. We're both right and wrong, though, because the final twist is a good one and arrives unexpectedly. Then there's a final moment that's as bleak as it is satisfying.
Children of the Full Moon has the most involvement yet of former Hammer Horror creatives (see below) and that's as good a reason as any to credit the quality of the episode. Everything about it is good, from the script to the pacing to the acting to the makeup. More than once I got a faint Little Red Riding Hood vibe. It's nowhere near as obvious as Company of Wolves, but is still a twisted fairy tale to keep us awake at night.
Hammer Horror Film Connections:
Robert Urquhart appeared in The Curse of Frankenstein (1957).
Chris Barnes started his career with Hammer and edited many films between The Plague of the Zombies (1966) and The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires.
Eddie Knight was makeup artist for several Hammer films between The Devil Rides Out (1968) and Frankenstein & the Monster from Hell (1974).
Ian Scoones was an uncredited special effects assistant for several Hammer films between Scream of Fear (1961) and Quatermass & the Pit (1967).