Anthony HindsGareth ThomasKathryn Leigh ScottSimon MacCorkindale
Hammer House of Horror 11: Visitors From The Grave
Medium: TV
Year: 1980
Director: Peter Sasdy
Writer: Anthony Hinds
Keywords: horror, ghost, Hammer
Country: UK
Series: << Hammer House of Horror >>
Actor: Kathryn Leigh Scott, Simon MacCorkindale, Gareth Thomas, Mia Nardi, Stanley Lebor
Format: 51 minutes
Website category: Horror 1970/80s
Review date: 5 April 2011
No one seems to like this one. It's a bit low-key, but I thought it was okay.
The plot involves a married couple, Kathryn Leigh Scott and Simon MacCorkindale. Scott's a rich American with a delicate mental state and a history of problems. "They'd put you away again." Apparently that time she bought her way out of trouble. She's young, pretty and seems like a nice person, but she doesn't have the strongest grip on herself. Meanwhile MacCorkindale is a pretty good husband, but perhaps prone to a touch of the sergeant-majors. The two of them are about to have a stressful time and MacCorkindale is going to be a pressure factor for Scott, no matter how much he might think he's being helpful.
Scott shoots a man in the pre-credits sequence. She hadn't planned on shooting anyone, but it was late and she thought she was in danger. After that, they're in trouble.
The rest of the episode is simply about this couple. Scott wants to tell the police, but MacCorkindale won't hear of it. His arguments include the statement that it's illegal to keep a gun in England, which I'm pretty sure is wrong since they're in a rural setting and that was a shotgun. Farmers have shotguns all the time. That doesn't necessarily mean much, since I'm sure a lot of people would do the same as MacCorkindale and then try to fob off their partner with similarly persuasive-sounding reasons, but it did make me wonder what the man they shot had been there for in the first place. He'd said he was there to sort out MacCorkindale, and not in a good way. Does MacCorkindale have enemies? These thoughts are suggestive, but the other side of the coin is that Scott is approaching breaking point and her husband's way of doing things isn't helping.
It's a subtle episode. To enjoy it, you'll have to be interested in speculations like this and wondering how these people are going to break. It doesn't help that they're also not particularly likeable, as usual for this series. They're perfectly amiable and they're in a tricky situation, but their worst enemies are themselves and I can see a lot of the audience asking "what's their problem?"
Oh, and the title's relevant. You were probably wondering about that.
The cast's starrier than usual for this show. Kathryn Leigh Scott really is American and apparently best-known for her multiple roles in Dark Shadows. (It sounds complicated.) Meanwhile MacCorkindale I'm afraid I remember best from Manimal, but he's been in all kinds of things from I Claudius to Falcon Crest and Jaws 3-D. He died last year, incidentally, aged only 58. However even the supporting cast contains people I recognised, such as Gareth Thomas from Blake's 7. He's good too.
I think what tipped me was the ending. The pre-credits sequence is only okay, as is most of the episode. However it manages to pull out a pretty nifty finale, which not only ends the episode on a high but also explains one or two dubious bits from earlier that had seemed a bit odd at the time. (One of those, the Swami Gupta Krisha, had had me leaping to completely the wrong conclusion, although not in a good way.)
Weird-looking 1980 police car, incidentally.
I didn't mind this one. It's slow-burning, but I quite liked it. However I can understand why it's one of the least popular episodes of this series, since at first glance it looks drab and uneventful. The supernatural stuff is thin and you'll be in trouble if you've taken a dislike to the lead characters. The episode also doesn't disprove my speculation that the weaker episodes of this series are the ones with nudity, since Scott spends at least the first ten minutes in an extremely thin nightdress. She's never naked and I couldn't pretend that she's showing her tits or anything, but it's not doing much for her modesty either.
Overall this isn't an episode to rush out and watch, or even really recommend, but I found it better than its reputation. I quite liked it.