ANDREW GARVEY reviews Witching Time, the first episode in Hammer House of Horror Television Series
Hammer House of Horror Episode Guide
Episode Title: Witching Time
First televised:  13th September, 1980
Director: Don Leaver
Screenplay: Anthony Read
Starring: Jon Finch, Patricia Quinn, Prunella Gee, Ian McCulloch and Lennard Pearce.
Plot: Unhappily married David Winter stumbles across a woman hiding in the barn near his farmhouse.  She claims to be a witch, born there in 1627 and now escaped from her Puritan persecutors.
Where Have I Seen Them Before?  Jon Finch starred in the title role of Roman Polanski’s acclaimed 1971 film the Tragedy of Macbeth and took the lead role in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1972 thriller, Frenzy.  He also appeared in two Hammer films – the Vampire Lovers and the Horror of Frankenstein.  Patricia Quinn is best known as Magenta, Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s domestic help in 1975 cult classic, the Rocky Horror Picture Show.  Prunella Gee appeared in Sean Connery’s last James Bond film, Never Say Never Again.  Ian McCulloch starred in 70s sci-fi TV hit Survivors and a pair of the era’s more shocking undead horror films – Zombie Flesh Eaters (1979) and Zombie Holocaust (1980).  Lennard Pearce is known to millions as Grandad in the early years of classic BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses.
Best line: “Strumpet!  It’s you they should’ve burned.”
Review: With nudity inside the first minute and acting that veers wildly from stiff to scenery-chewing and back again, the first episode has ‘Hammer’ written all over it and is a fine starting point for the series.  Lusty witch Lucinda (Quinn) looks and sounds suitably unhinged and David’s (Finch) descent into madness is nicely played.  Less impressively, we’re expected to simply accept Lucinda’s completely unexplained time travelling, Mary (Gee) is hardly a sympathetic heroine and the final, climactic action sequence is something of a letdown after such a mostly strong set-up.  Still, fun to watch.

Andrew Garvey
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