Hammer House of Horror: The Mark of Satan (Episode 13)

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ANDREW GARVEY reviews The Mark of Satan, the 13th and final episode in Hammer House of Horror TV  Series

Title:  The Mark of Satan
First televised: 6 December 1980
Director:
Don Leaver
Screenplay: Don Shaw
Starring: Peter McEnery, Georgina Hale, Emrys James, Anthony Brown and Conrad Phillips.

Contents

Plot of The Mark of Satan

Edwyn Rord, new to his job at a hospital mortuary attends to the body of a man who tried to kill himself using an electric drill. 

That and continued occurrences of the number nine convince Rord that something unusual, perhaps evil, is going on.

Where Have I Seen Them Before?

Peter McEnery starred in 1964 Disney film the Moon-Spinners, 1967’s I Killed Rasputin and 1976 TV series adaptation of Arnold Bennett saga Clayhanger. 

After several years in television, Georgina Hale made her film debut in 1971 Ken Russell shocker The Devils, another Oliver Reed film, and nudity festival Castaway in 1986.  Most recently, she had a role in 2012 comedy/horror Cockneys vs. Zombies

A respected, long-time member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Emrys James also appeared in 1981’s fantasy adventure film Dragonslayer and 1987 BBC TV mini-series the Diary of Anne Frank. 

Anthony Brown appeared in mid-1980s TV drama the Drummonds and Terry Gilliam’s 1985 sci-fi/fantasy epic, Brazil. 

Conrad Phillips took the title role in late-50s TV series William Tell and many, many other TV roles.

Best line

“Why use an electric drill to the bonce?  Rather a painful way of committing suicide, I’d have thought.”

Review of The Mark of Satan

Much like the preceding episode, this, the final one, relies heavily on a single actor. 

Edwyn (McEnery) is clearly a bit off-kilter from the beginning and quickly stumbles off into the territory of the very disturbed, ranting and raving to his bemused tenant Stella (Hale) and a kindly but unhelpfully Revelations quoting priest (Brown) in a couple of great scenes. 

Overall, his torment is compelling and believable, although the pace drags a little at times.  Dr. Harris (James) is a treat as the pathologist who cheerfully chatters about death but single mother Stella’s acceptance of Edwyn, despite clear evidence he’s become a dangerous man, is more than a little baffling. 

Unless of course, she’s in on the vast, Satanic conspiracy that may or may not exist only in Edwyn’s head. 

There’s a fantastic hallucinatory sequence in which the entire conspiracy is fully revealed to Edwyn’s paranoid, drug-addled mind. 

But is any of it real? 

The episode’s greatest strength is that nagging sense of uncertainty. 

Unfortunately, it’s greatest weakness is that it doesn’t manage all that quite as effectively and is too similar to the Two Faces of Evil

Still, a good way to end the series.

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