Discussion in 'Cult TV' started by Willie Oleson, Jun 1, 2020.
Who did it best? When, and why?
Witching Time (13 sept 1980) vs. Mark Of The Devil (5 sept 1984)
Both episodes feature a married couple in trouble, a dishonest spouse, a dead bird, a past-and-future connection and a husband physically marked (and subsequently possessed) by a supernatural, evil power.
HORROR kicks off with a stressed composer of movie scores who's working on a horror movie starring his own wife, and it looks as if the story takes place in the 17th century. That last part could have been relevant but I'm not sure it is.
He suspects his wife to have an affair with the producer, which isn't true because she's having an affair with a doctor/friend of the family.
The wife, an icy blondine, is played by Prunella Gee.
There's definitely a "tycoon's wife" quality about her, but let's not be sidetracked by soapy coulda-shouldas.
During a thunderstorm, the composer discovers a woman in the barn. She claims to be a Lucinda, a witch from 1672 who lived on the farm currently inhabited by the composer and his wife. She was about to be trialed as a witch but managed to escape via time transportation. She speaks in Old English and is frightened by the modern electricity inside the house. It's a colourful story and performance, but of course it's not enough to convince the composer, and locks her in the bedroom and calls his friend the doctor.
When he arrives the woman is gone, eventhough the door was still locked and the room has window bars (it's a very old house).
The doctor blames the situation on stress and the combination of too much alcohol and prescription drugs, but when he's gone the witch returns and seduces the composer.
During the intercourse she scratches his back very hard, resulting in deep wounds.
Over on MYSTERY it's the beginning of a marriage between a pretty heiress and a handsome "nobody" who used to walk on the wild side of life, but he plans to give up his hustling ways and become the dream husband to the wealthy young woman.
Eventhough the HORROR episode was made 4 years earlier, the MYSTERY episode looks significantly more vintage. That may have something to do with the lesser picture quality, but at the same time there's nothing in HORROR that indicates a particular time, the odd old-fashioned device notwithstanding. Which is kinda ironic, considering the time travelling that's been going on.
But Jenny Seagrove as the heiress in the mansion looks like it could have been a scene from her A Woman Of Substance mini-series. It's marvelously eighties.
There is trouble in paradise when handsome hustler is visited by two gangsters to collect some hefty gambling debts. Hustler reassures them that he's going to marry into money, but they have no intention whatsoever to wait any longer. 24 hours, that's all he gets.
He decides to pawn his expensive watch (a gift from the heiress) but the pawnbroker, a Chinese tattooist who's also into all kinds of spiritual healings and dealings, offers him only a tenth of the real value.
"But it's worth a lot more than that!" is a staple expression in the pawnshop scenes.
When he accidentally discovers that there's a lot of cash money in the pawnshop he tries to steal it, but he's caught by the pawnbroker who then attacks him.
The hustler frantically grabs an object and hits his attacker to death, although the pawnbroker has managed to puncture his chest during the struggle. He runs off and invests the money in another poker game. This time he's very lucky and he's got enough to pay off the debts. The gangsters are suspicious.
The adulterous wife of the movie score composer in HORROR has returned from the "city" (in reality, the doctor's bedroom) and starts to experience scary and dangerous events.
A beheaded bird on the bed, blood instead of water coming out of the tap and she's almost hit by a sculpture falling down from the landing.
This, combined with the ridiculous witch-story, makes her think her husband's playing dangerous tricks on her but shortly after that they're both in a poltergeist-esque scene when a mysterious storm rages inside the bedroom. It looks quite good for a tv episode, and much better than the one in the THRILLER series.
From this point on it becomes a fight against the witch, hindered by the literally spellbound composer - courtesy of the marks - himself. "She's the whore! We must destroy the strumpet!" (note to self: Strumpetina for the Unused Dynasty Names thread).
MYSTERY's hustler is horrified to learn that the tiny mark on his chest has grown into something bigger, and from this point on it becomes a challenge to hide his naked skin from his fiancée. When he consults a doctor it becomes clear, by using a magnifying glass, that the growing tattoo is an image of the murder scene. For me, it's the eerie highlight of this story.
The doctor recalls an article in the newspaper reporting a murder of a Chinese tattooist, similar to the image on hustler's chest. He secretly tries to inform the police, but he's killed by hustler who's also used the magnifying glass in front of a mirror after the doctor had gone into the other room to make the call - thus putting two and two together.
The gangsters have also figured out where his money to gamble came from, but they are both surprised and killed when they try to extort him.
Theft, deceit and four murders. But it's told from the perspective of preservation and that makes it easier to indentify with the dastardly underdog. It doesn't hurt that he looks like Dirk Benedict, I suppose.
HORROR continous with the battle against the witch and the power she has over the husband, and the wife discovers that the witch is afraid of water. This is a staple in monster movies, the heroes find out, usually by change, that it takes something very ordinary like ice or a sound or moonlight to destroy the seemingly indestructible evil power.
She drowns the witch in a trough and then the witch disappears.
The voodoo doll, initially representing the wife but she's covered it with red-brown mud so now it represents the witch, is thrown into the bonfire, initially built by the spellbound husband to destroy his whore wife. Screams of terror suggests that the witch is trialed and burnt to death in her own time. Retrospectively, or something.
A companion of the Chinese tattooist, who's also very involved with the exorcism as seen in the opening scene, notices another scene marked on his back - this time it represents the future.
She tells him to return to the crime scene, do whatever it is he's supposed to do (she doesn't say) and then the tattoos will disappear. That's too easy of course.
Once inside he encounters the ghost of the pawnbroker/tattooist in a large mirror, and then the ghost steps out of the mirror and kills hustler.
Hustler's dead, almost naked body is indeed as spotless as it used to be, and the pawnbroker, re-transformed to ghost in the mirror, laughs an evil laugh. There was also lots of evil witch laughter in HORROR.
Personally I found it all a bit too fantastical i.e. not within the boundaries of these particular supernatural events, and also a double comeuppance for poor hustler. Bastards!
Jenny Seagrove is startled by an object hitting her window. When she opens the window to look outside she notices a little dead bird on the ground.
And the winner is
MYSTERY AND SUSPENSE
The Thirteenth Reunion (20 sept 1980) vs. Last Video And Testament (12 sept 1984)
In HORROR's Reunion, a magazine reporter is going to check out a controversial weight-loss club, "Think Thin", associated with a health clinic.
The reporter is played by Julia Foster who (in this episode anyway) looks like kindergarten teacher in a comedy movie. It's such an odd choice for a reporter who wants to do more than writing articles for female readers, but there you go.
She signs up for the course and immediately finds out what so controversial about the programme, although she doesn't look particularly impressed.
An overweight woman in a bathing suit is standing in front of the others while the coach character criticizes her in the most vicious way possible. The woman starts to sob, louder and louder but the coach shows no mercy.
It's something that needs to be seen.
However, a male participant who also hasn't lost any weight is being complimented for his good spirit. "At least you Think Thin". More curiously, his meal for that night as prescribed by the club is quite lavish, but combined with some kind of metabolism pills it should do the trick.
This man, Ben, and the reporter get acquainted and it even becomes a little romantic.
Later, alone his car, he starts to suffer from hallucinations after he has taken the metabolism pills. He's also chased by another car and this leads to a fatal accident.
The two man in the other car immediately whisk away his body and disappear.
MYSTERY's Last Video starts with the introduction of an electronics concern, its founder and CEO Victor Frankham, his lovely young wife Selena played by Deborah Raffin and his protégé and possible successor Derek Tucker played by Oliver Tobias.
Victor Frankham suffers from a heart condition and claustrophobia, and it's rather peculiar that he starts to experience claustrophobic situations.
But then it turns out these things were orchestrated by Selena and Derek, who also happen to be secret lovers.
Victor even ends up in the hospital, but unbeknownst to his wife he discharges himself earlier than planned. Sitting in his big computer room that also controls all the cameras in the house (he is an electronics tycoon after all) he watches his wife and his protégé having sex and plotting a new big fright to overload his poor old heart.
He is absolutely devastated.
Later he tells his wife he's going to New York for a heart operation, something he's always refused to do. But now he feels it's his only option because his condition is getting worse and worse.
MYSTERY is also a very pretty episode: the company building, the house, the cars, streets with beautiful shops.
Some time later, Victor's attorney arrives at the Frankham mansion to deliver a video tape to Selena. And there's bad news: her husband has not survived the operation.
A young man working for the funeral directors in HORROR contacts the reporter because he thinks there's something strange going on.
They discover that Ben's body is not going to be buried, but instead it's delivered at the clinic. The reporter smells a great story and goes undercover again, this time she fakes bad veins in her leg. When she's snooping about she enters a room with what looks like bodies in linen bags hanging from the ceiling.
She secretly witnesses the chief of the clinic removing one of the bags and follows him to another mansion. She manages to sneak in but is caught almost immediately because she's not particularly cautious and careful in her actions.
I mean, looking around in someone's dining room while there are guests in the house is usually not without consequences. Nevertheless, she's welcomed by the chief and they even ask her to stay for dinner.
In the lounge room she meets a group of people of mixed age and race. A chatty woman informs her that all the guests had met on last year's flight from London to Marrakesh.
The reporter recalls something peculiar about it.
"Yes, the one that crashed in the Atlas mountains", the chatty woman elaborates. And every month they come together to remember all the others who didn't make it, and this is their thirteenth reunion.
Without mentioning any details she also suggests that they had to extreme things to survive. And that's when the reporter finally understands the purpose of the dead bodies hanging in the clinic, and how it's connected with the people from the Think Thin club.
When the main course (aka "Ben") is served, the guests are getting very excited and they smack and lick their lips when they watch the chief sharpen the knives.
It looks silly and grotesque, something you would expect from a TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED story.
The reporter runs away and goes to the funeral home to alert the young employer. She finds him dead, and then the Think Thin coach enters the mortuary with a bloody cleaver in his hand.
"Yes, I was on that plane as well". He swings the knife towards the reporter and then it all ends with a soft "chop" sound.
Victor has a surprise for MYSTERY's Selena. In the video he explains that his body will be preserved in some high tech freezer chamber in case he won't survive the operation.
His inheritance will go into a trust, and only when she's as old as Victor she'll become a rich widow. He's always made a point of the age gap, and this is his way of "growing old together".
But then a codicil video arrives: she has to agree with Victor's plan, and if not then he's going to be cremated and she inherits everything now. And of course Selena and Derek opt for the cremation.
When Derek stops the video, Victor appears on the screen again, this time live from the computer room!
It was all faked and staged to give Selena another chance to show her undying love for him.
They rush to the computer room and as soon as they've entered he sneaks out and closes the door, which can only be opened with a remote control (oh..but isn't that a little claustrophobish?).
Victor's voice, coming out of the speakers, explains why and how he did it - and now he's going to make them suffer.
This is a long scene with interactions between the old man and the scheming couple, but the best part is the old man's indulgent hatred.
It's not just revenge, it's gleeful torture when he sends a 7 hertz frequency through the room, a frequency that will shake their organs into one big mess.
As with the previous MYSTERY episode, there's a double comeuppance going on. First the nasty surprise in the video will and after that the gruesome, high-tech execution.
To top it off, the episode ends with Victor dancing on Selena's grave. Wow, bitchy!
I think I like the HORROR story better, but the strange casting of the main character gives the episode a bit of a Scooby-Doo feel. The Think Thin club scene was very well acted and I'm tempted to let the lady in the bathing suit win.
But the winner is
MYSTERY AND SUSPENSE
Oh I'm gonna enjoy this thread. I have been eyeing up this for a while too! I will have to come back to this later.
I see that the next episode will feature Lady Chatterley's lover.
Rude Awakening (27 sept 1980) vs. Child's Play (8 oct 1984)
Both episodes are non-stop action that takes place in a relatively short time span.
HORROR's Awakening stars Denholm Elliott (who "previously" appeared in a very good THRILLER episode) and Lucy Gutteridge. Somehow I feel I should have remembered that Gutteridge was in it, but I didn't.
Elliott plays an estate agent who's dreaming the biggest part of the episode i.e. he constantly wakes up in a new nightmare.
The dreams are instigated by his lust for his secretary "Lolly" - LOL - and the desire to leave his wife (to be with Lolly).
At the end of each nightmare he's being accused of killing his wife on Friday the 13th. Which isn't true because he hasn't yet woken up on Friday the 13th - he's still sleeping.
But because it all feels so real to him, and because each subsequent nightmare either continues or denies some elements from the previous one, it actually feels to him as if time - days! - have passed.
A funny detail is that Lolly has a different but equally vampy look in each nightmare. I guess that's a reference to his sexual fantasies (the disco slut, the office tramp, the school girl etc).
In one of the nightmares he has to escape from a flat that's being demolished when he's still in it. It looks very good and it also reminded me of my own recurring nightmares in which I ran down the stairs (barely touching the steps) in order to escape my evil nemesis who lived in the attic.
But anyway, in the last nightmare he's diagnosed with a tumor in the brains (which "explains" his strange behaviour) but during the operation performed by his wife (the anaesthetist), the doctor's assistant (Lolly) and the of course the doctor himself (a man playing various characters in different nightmares) he's declared dead eventhough he obviously isn't.
The put in him the freezer and the last thing he sees is his wife's evil smile.
He wakes up again, hating his wife more than ever, and he decides that he's no longer going to be the victim in his nightmare - he's going to turn it into a dream-come-true dream.
He kills his wife, goes to the office where his mousy secretary Lolly is opening the mail and whatnot, gives her a diamond necklace and tells her that they can finally marry.
Lolly has no idea what he's talking about.
The police arrives, and the estate agent immediately recognises him as the man who appeared in his previous dreams in various incarnations. He confesses to killing his wife in a rather amused way ("I'm getting to used to these dreams now") but if his wife died on the 13th then it doesn't make sense that she was killed again a few days later.
And there's no evidence of him killing his wife twice.
However, it's not a few days later, it IS Friday the 13th. He's finally woken up for real. He did kill his wife, and now the real "nightmare" begins.
MYSTERY's Play also starts with an unsuspecting character waking up in a nightmarish situation, however - if I may quote a cheesy line from ROSEMARY'S BABY - "this is not a dream, this is really happening!".
The couple, played by Mary Crosby and Nicholas Clay, discover that the doors and windows are blocked by a mysterious indestructible wall, and the temperature inside the house is rising.
The also have a young daughter, a little horror who seems to hate her mother (thankfully, Mary Crosby bitch-slapped her).
This is all happening in the first 10 minutes, and knowing how it will end I wondered how they were going to fill the other 60 minutes in an entertaining way.
It's been 15 years since I re-watched these episodes when the series came out on DVD.
But the story doesn't disappoint, not for a single minute. What I really like is that they're trying to come up with all sorts of explanations and then immediately dismiss them as being too far-fetched. (afaik, Sons and Daughters is the only soap in which one of the characters considers a plot point as being too far-fetched, although characters from other soaps may have mentioned something like "come one, this is not a soap opera" - which imho is far less subtle and also a bit of a wink to the audience).
The story rapidly turns into a frantic effort to escape, including a self-made bomb and the car in the garage that is supposed to crash through the wall.
The TV only signals a certain symbol, and later the mother starts to realize that the symbol is omnipresent in the house. It's on every product, and even her husband has a tattoo of that very symbol.
But somehow he doesn't register what she's trying to explain, followed by the discovery that the daughter has always been of the same age according to the pictures in the photo album.
The clocks are all working but it's always 10 past 4.
The plot thickens and thickens!
The mother starts to lose the feeling in her left arm, and the whole situation is so hopeless and sadistic and on top of that there's a mysterious, dangerous looking green blob coming out of the fireplace. I couldn't decide whether to laugh or cry.
But one is clear, these characters are suffering, mentally and physically.
And this healthy dose of drama enhances the terrifying experience.
Then suddenly, the house is tilted and they all roll to one side of the room. What the mystery is going on here?
The episode pulls the rug out from under the viewer when they show a girl lifting a dollhouse that looks exactly like the one that's inhabited by the tormented couple.
When her mother enters the sci-fi room the girl complains that her brother has been messing with her toys. The fire, the candy that melted into a sticky blob…
The bottom of the dollhouse shows the logo of the company and the date of manufacturing: 2090. So, 70 years from now we'll be wearing these outfits. Back to TopPop!
The sci-fi mother also tells her daughter that they can readjust the emotions of the dolls, but that still doesn't explain exactly what we've witnessed.
We know that the physical events played out the way it was (rather carelessly) engineered by the sci-fi girl's brother, but that doesn't mean that the doll-characters didn't suffer.
And there's no guarantee that they won't suffer another tragedy.
The episode ends with the statement: This Story Is True. It Has Simply Been Told Before Its Time.
Which echoes the days, as experienced by HORROR's estate agent, that never passed, but in fact happened before the day he woke up for real.
And the winner is
MYSTERY AND SUSPENSE
Growing Pains (4 oct 1980) vs. The Corvini Inheritance (15 oct 1984)
HORROR's pre-intro scene shows a boy (10 or 12-ish) in a laboratory. He takes one of the jars from the shelf and eats some of the yellow powder, or whatever it was. The label on the jar corresponds with the label on the cage containing one of the lab rabbits and he sees that that particular rabbit is dead. He panics but it's too late, he dies.
I found it rather odd that a boy of his age wouldn't anticipate trouble when eating some unknown stuff stored in a jar in a laboratory.
After the beautiful intro theme, the parents adopt a boy of the same age as their deceased child.
He's extremely polite but doesn't show any emotion, so…Damian Thorne, I guessed. Quelle surprise when strange things start to happen, and this has an unpleasant effect on the relationship between the parents and the adopted boy.
The father is a research botanist and he has developed some kind of protein-boost plant for the Thirld World countries. The plant itself looks like a cross between a plant from the Rocky Horror Show and a tarantula, but unfortunately they did nothing with it.
A mini-delegation of the World Food Council (an African and an Indian) visist the botanist, and despite their earnestness they prove to be a very funny duo.
At the same time, the adopted son is walking the dog but when they pass the grave of the previous son the dog becomes wild and aggressive, suddenly there's a strong wind, the grave starts to move and the headstone is struck by lightning. At this point in the story there's still no real connection between characters and events, so it feels both random and over the top.
The dog runs off and goes into the laboratory, and then this happened:
It looks so ridiculously staged I couldn't help but laughing out loud.
After that, the father and the mini-delegation are having tea and continue their conversation. "Sorry you had to witness that".
But then the dog attacks the father, and he and the mother and the mini-delegation run across the lawn in order to lure the dog to the barn. Carry On Hammer Horror, that's what it looks like.
But anyway, it turns out that the first son had eaten the lab stuff because he thought it would make him grow bigger like his father's favourite rabbit.
And he did that because he felt neglected by his career-hungry parents, especially his father. The ghost of the boy snatches the prestigious plant from the laboratory, and when his father tries to catch him he tumbles into an open grave and dies (I suppose).
The ghost disappears and the mother and adopted son walk back to the house. And that's it.
There's nothing about the characters or plot development that works, and the adopted son isn't even that important in the (ahem) grand scheme of things. It's a complete shambles except for the funny World Food duo, oh and the dead son had written a lovely-sad little poem before he died.
I had to watch MYSTERY's Inheritance in three installments because it was so godawful boring, mostly because of the Corvini inheritance.
Frank is the head of security at an auction house, and the descendants of the infamous Corvini dynasty decide to sell all their historic jewelry.
It focuses on one particular necklace with (allegedly) supernatural powers and it also has a history of adultery and murder.
The set up is intriguing but it doesn't take long before the story starts to meander, and ironically enough the same happens to Frank's parallel storyline: at home, protecting his neighbour who's being harassed by a peeping Tom who wears a black ski mask.
He helps her with the locks and the windows and even installs a camera in the hall to record all the comings and goings on tape - exactly the way he does it in the auction house.
It's obvious that he's in love with her but she only wants to be friends. He starts to follow her because he's afraid something might happen to her, and this possessive behaviour suggests that he acted as peeping Tom to create the opportunity to help her.
This could be related to the history of the Corvini necklace but it all looks very coincidental to me.
However, when he's watching one of the camera recordings he spots the peeping Tom entering the building. Aha, plot twist.
His neighbour, Eva, has signed up for a word processing course and then some previously unknown guy is making a lot of effort to "accidentally" bump into her in order to get acquainted (and more). And, well, they actually become a romantic couple but neighbour Frank doesn't trust him.
He has a paranormal experience at the auction house and some time later he's watching yet another camera tape and - gasp! - sees how neighbour Eva is being attacked and dragged inside by peeping Tom!
Frank rushes over to her apartment and finds her dead on the floor. He calls the police and he also says "I got the bastard who did it on tape!"
That tape is still playing, and then Frank sees how peeping Tom faces the camera and removes his black ski mask - and then realizes he's looking at himself! Yes, it was possessive Frank after all, but he wasn't aware of his alter ego.
Peeping Tom was already introduced before the Corvinis arrived, so I don't see how events were instigated or influenced by the history of the jewelry. If it wasn't about the jewelry but about him, showing that he was going insane, then I wonder if that doesn't somewhat spoil the mystery.
Nevertheless, the final scene was very effective and overall it's a well-produced episode.
And the winner is
MYSTERY AND SUSPENSE
The House That Bled To Death (11 oct 1980) vs. In Possession (22 oct 1984)
Both episodes revolve around paranormal and freaky events instigated by the murder of someone's wife - and in both cases things are not exactly what they appear to be.
The House... is probably the most iconic title in the HORROR series, and somehow I think it was the first episode shown in Holland. But I could be wrong.
A couple and a young daughter move into a house that's been on the market for quite some time. The mother, played by Rachel Davies, looks absolutely stunning in this episode.
The man who shows them around in the first scene is a mister A.J. Powers, presumably the real estate agent, but he also discusses the matter of mortgage so maybe he's a banker.
But banks can own property too so it doesn't really matter what his exact position is. Well, not yet.
It becomes clear that this is the house wherein a man murdered his wife in the introduction scene, and it doesn't take long before strange and sometimes dangerous malfunctions occur.
The young girl's pet, a cat, slashes its throat on a partially broken window, which means that the cat was either extraordinary clumsy or suicidal.
A friendly couple living across the street also witness some of the unexplainable events, but the main couple is determined to make it work. This is going to be their new home.
And then of course we have the infamous children's party scene when the house really starts to bleed.
It seems to me that this was supposed to be this episode's pièce de résistance because it actually takes a long time (within the birthday scene itself) before it happens. I found it rather unusual to see such an epic build-up at this stage of the episode.
The scene itself looks a bit hilarious. It's not fun to be hosed down when you're eating birthday cake but I'm not sure if everyone should assume that it was blood.
And I love watching screaming kids. Not in the case of pain or abuse or any serious distress, but when happy things are spoilt for them then I love to see the tears on their angry little faces.
The story makes a time-jump, the family is now living in a mansion in California.
Through conversation between husband and wife - although they're not really married, but I fail to see the relevance of this additional info - we learn that they have been in cahoots with mister A.J. Powers to turn the house with a murder history into a live action murder mystery house. With, in fact, lots of witnesses.
It's become a huge story and subsequently a best-selling biography, with the plans to sell it to a film studio.
The daughter is still having nightmares but the father is convinced that she'll grow out of it, and they'll explain it when she's old enough to understand.
We see her reading the book (with a flashback to her beloved and bloody cat), and then she discovers some of the Murder Mystery House "props" in a suitcase.
Realizing what really happened and didn't happen in that house, she goes into her parents' bedroom and starts slashing the wicked couple.
From a dramatic point of view I found this HORROR episode better than the previous ones because there was a lot of interaction between the various characters.
It's something that netflix could turn into a mini-series, but they'd probably do 10 episodes instead of 4.
MYSTERY's Possession (written by Michael J. Bird) starts with two couples staying in a hotel (vacation or whatever) and when the main couple Frank and Sylvia (played by Christopher Cazenove and Carol Lynley) return to their room they see that the room is occupied by other guests.
Needless to say they complain about the double-booking, but when the manager checks the room there's only cases and stuff belonging to Frank and Sylvia.
They shrug it off as a very silly mistake, or maybe they were dreaming - hahaha - but then suddenly Frank seems to realize something.
It's wonderfully effective and nightmarish, possibly my favourite scene in this episode.
Anyway, some time later Frank receives the news that the company he works for needs him on one of their overseas operations, Botswana to be precisely.
And so they pack their things, have the furniture stored and they see one of the movers carrying a big, old-fashioned birdcage. Which is odd because it doesn't belong to them. Must be a prank or something.
They have a mini-farewell party with the other couple and from that point on Frank and Sylvia are going in and out of a mysterious alternative reality in which their empty apartment is fully furnished and inhabited by another couple.
Not only that, the evil husband abuses his much older wife (married for money) and eventually he kills her - although these events as witnessed by Frank and Sylvia do not happen in chronological order.
If that's not bizarre enough, the alternative reality couple (and also a neighbour) sees Frank and Sylvia as people from their reality (a sister, a doctor, a policeman).
Sometimes it stops and they think "it's really over now!" but of course you know they're not making this episode just to show that it's all over. It becomes predictable pretty fast but there's a sadistic fun in watching their recurring torment.
Eventually the night is really over and it's the day they'll leave for Africa. The real estate agent (there always has to be a real estate agent) comes to collect the key because the new tenants are ready to move in.
The new tenants enter the room and...it's the couple from the alternative reality! They hadn't been time warped into the past but into the future. Well, not that that makes the experience of an alternative reality more (or less) bizarre, but the disappointment in this story conclusion is that it doesn't imply any specific consequences for Frank and Sylvia.
They know that the possession wasn't just the house because it also happened in the hotel and in the park.
Will the nightmare continue or return, or will it stop after the wife is killed? Are Frank and Sylvia the alternative reality? I have no idea what it means. At least the Child's Play story offered some interpretations to toy with.
And the winner is
Charlie Boy (18 oct 1980) vs. Paint Me A Murder (29 oct 1984)
Both stories have an art theme, and in both cases the deaths are related to a picture or pictures in a supernatural way.
HORROR's Charlie starts with the death of a rich uncle who owns a big art collection.
There are two heirs, the nephews of the deceased uncle, but it's not clear if they are brothers or cousins - but it makes no difference in this story.
Nephew Mark inherits the money and the estate, and the art collection goes to nephew Graham.
Mark and Graham, together with their friend Phil (a film director), had agreed to invest their inheritance in a movie production company.
I recognized actor Michael Deeks (who plays Phil) from the TV series DICK TURPIN, eventhough I have very little recollection of the Dick Turpin actors and stories.
Nephew Graham quits a very successful job and plans to sell all the art to raise the capital for his share in the movie company.
He asks his wife (or girlfriend) to pick an item she'd like to keep, and she chooses a voodoo-fetish artefact. She's very pleased with her choice, and she names the voodoo doll Charlie Boy.
But then, most unexpectedly, nephew Mark backs out of the deal because he prefers to invest in the estate with the stables. And this means no current and no future career for Graham.
That night, drunk and embittered, he looks at a photograph of the family & friends, all smiling and ready for the future.
Suddenly, in a moment of theatrical rage, he stabs a knife in Charlie Boy, not realizing that he's jinxing all the people in that picture, including himself and his wife.
After the death of Mark, Phil and housekeeper Gwen (and some mafia guy from a sub-plotline) they understand that they are going to be the next victims. Charlie Boy must be destroyed to break the spell.
Well, to cut a long story short: Charlie Boy wins.
The story plays out like a Final Destination movie, and one particular scene is basically the template for all Final Destination deaths.
The characters are not particularly interesting but enough effort is made to build a setting and narrative around this rather straightforward idea.
It's also one of the (if not the) bloodiest episodes in the HORROR series.
MYSTERY's Paint revolves around a scheme between artist Luke Lorenz and his money-hungry wife Sandra (played by Michelle Phillips, of course!).
He fakes his death in order to increase interest in his works and, inevitably, the value thereof.
Once he's got fame he's craving, and the money she's craving, he'll make a surprise return from the dead (isn't that always a surprise? oh well), pretending to have lived an amnesiac life in some secluded village by the sea.
In reality he's living in the attic and continues to paint, and then Sandra brings the paintings to a slimy but somewhat dashing art dealer.
Yes, you've guessed it right, the wife and the art dealer fall in love, while painter Luke proves to be a very difficult "prisoner".
He's an artist, a free spirit! He needs the fresh air and the sun on his face and all that.
So there we have the big change of plans: painter Luke must die for real, and then the rich art dealer and the beautiful Sandra will live happily ever after.
From this point on till the final scene there aren't any significant plot twists that warrants a mention, although there's one bizarre decision that I just couldn't place in the overall narrative.
A body washes ashore, and since Luke's body was never found they ask Sandra to see if she can identify him as her husband. She confirms it's him, eventhough the police knows it's not him.
How can you lie about something like that? I know this is not CSI UK but even in the eighties there were ways to discover the identity of a dead body. It's not like they showed her a skeleton - but maybe they should have done that. "Yes, that's him! I'd recognize his skeleton everywhere!"
As per ususal with these kind of crime/fraud/scheme stories there is the police working in the background.
In the case of the THRILLER episodes this was an essential part of the plot because the potential victims had to be saved in the last scene.
But there aren't many happy endings in the HAMMER series so it's very important that the police won't have the opportunity to interfere with all these shenanigans.
They're only there for the sake of authenticity because it would be totally unbelievable that they wouldn't suspect something.
But they usually fall behind with the new developments and discover things that the viewer already knows.
In the last part, the art dealer is about to push Luke off the cliff but before they show the result of this action the film continues with the scene in the cottage where Sandra is waiting for her lover to return with the bad-no-great news.
But it's taking too long and she goes to the cliff to see what the delay is all about. She looks over the cliff - there's no such thing as fear of heights in these cliff-type of stories - and sees a body in the distance below.
There's no expression on her face that suggests that she knows which one of the two men it is, or that she even cares, and then when Luke shows up - although there really was no place to hide anywhere - she looks at him in fear, or is it surprise?
Is it because she expected him to be dead or because she's afraid he's going to kill her for her murderous betrayal?
But then she falls off the cliff and it doesn't matter anymore.
They show the painting he had finished just before the art dealer arrived (with murder in mind) and it's the image of the dead wife and art dealer, exactly how they look as they lie dead at the bottom of the cliff.
Which means everything or nothing, I don't know.
Maybe they realized, in the last moment, that they also had to put the mystery in Mystery And Suspense. Personally, I would have preferred the suspense.
And the winner is
A faulty MYSTERY AND SUSPENSE disc has sabotaged my versus review!
The other best HORROR stories: The Silent Scream, Children Of The Full Moon and The Two Faces Of Evil.
The other best MYSTERY stories: Black Carrion, Czech Mate and The Tennis Court.
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