ANDREW GARVEY reviews Visitor from the Grave, the 11th episode in Hammer House of Horror TV Series
Title: Visitor from the Grave
First televised: November 22nd 1980
Director: Peter Sasdy
Screenplay: John Elder
Starring: Kathryn Leigh Scott, Simon MacCorkindale, Gareth Thomas, Mia Nadasi and Stanley Lebor.
Plot: Alone in her isolated and woken up in the night by an intruder with rape and revenge in mind, Penny does the world a favour with a shotgun. But despite a hasty burial in the woods, her tormentor returns.
Where Have I Seen Them Before?
Between 1966 and 1970, American actress Kathryn Leigh Scott appeared in multiple roles in over 300 episodes of gothic soap opera Dark Shadows and has a cameo in the 2012 film of the same name. She worked extensively on American television in the 1970s and ‘80s. Simon MacCorkindale starred as consultant Harry Harper in long-running medical drama Casualty (and its spin-off Holby City) from 2002 to 2008. He also appeared in 59 episodes of 1980s soap opera Falcon Crest and starred as shape-shifting, crime-fighting Professor Jonathan Chase in short-lived 1983 sci-fi drama series Manimal. His last film role before his death was in 2010’s British teenagers vs. werewolves film 13 Hrs. Welshman Gareth Thomas starred as Roj Blake in seminal BBC sci-fi series Blake’s 7. He also starred in cult 1970s children’s TV series Children of the Stones, a 1998 Merlin TV movie and had recurring roles in British dramas London’s Burning and Heartbeat. Stanley Lebor appeared in superhero films Flash Gordon and Superman IV and specialised in playing villainous roles until his five year run as Howard, the nicest man in the world in gently amusing mid-1980s sitcom Ever Decreasing Circles.
Best line: “Well, I know nothing about ghosts, or any of that.”
Review: Opening with a graphic home intrusion and shooting the episode centres on the incident’s aftermath as Penny (Scott) does a lot of screaming and looking terrified while she falls apart and boyfriend Harry (MacCorkindale) tries, in a miserably uncaring, repressed sort of way, to keep things together. With some gruesome visuals and a script that keeps things interesting and mysterious, the constant scenery-chewing from Scott and most of the other cast members, is fun for a while but things fall apart with the introduction of some Tarot histrionics from Penny’s friend Margaret (Nardi). From then on, things become deeply silly, the final fifteen or so minutes of twaddle leading to a quality ending that could have been achieved by a more frightening, logical route. Frustratingly uneven, this one.