Updated: Sep 26, 2021
Reminiscent of many a 1970s ABC-TV movie, the Visitor from the Grave episode of Hammer House of Horror is nevertheless one of the series’ most consistently entertaining episodes. I instantly anticipated the outcome; however, the script and direction kept me suspecting that I might be wrong.
Lovely young Penny (Kathryn Leigh Scott, Dark Shadows) shoots an intruder in the head with her husband’s shotgun, then struggles to convince others what’s happening when the victim returns from the grave to terrorize her. You see, she has a history of mental issues and craves her bottle of pills. She’s not a reliable character at all… or is she?
Her husband, Harry (Simon MacCorkindale) at least humors her a bit, escorting her to meet with a medium, Margaret (Mia Nadasi), who claims that the only one who can help Penny is Swami Gupta Krishna, but he’s out of the country. We learn that Penny has money and offers to pay whatever it costs (“150 grand”) for him to come home.
The clues to the truth add up, but are subtly delivered. If not for the familiar story and twist, the conclusion might actually be a surprise. Then, Visitor from the Grave adds another twist that I wasn’t expecting, sealing the deal. You’ve got to credit the behind the scenes forces at work for the episode’s impact: writer John Elder (aka Anthony Hinds) and director Peter Sasdy.
Hammer Horror Film Connections:
John Elder (aka Anthony Hinds) wrote and produced many, many Hammer films.
Peter Sasdy directed Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970), Countess Dracula (1971), and Hands of the Ripper (1971).
Gareth Thomas was uncredited for his appearance as “Other Workman” in Quatermass & the Pit (1967).
Chris Barnes edited many Hammer horror films between The Plague of the Zombies (1966) and The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974).