Synapse Films is proud to present the complete series of HAMMER HOUSE OF HORROR in its original airdate order, with all-new introductions and supplemental features. This five-disc Collector’s Edition presents each episode with all nudity and violence intact!
From the Press Release:
Each generation creates tales of horror… stories that seep through the very heart of our collective fears. The legendary Hammer Studios is widely recognized as the high watermark of the gothic macabre, creating some of the most chilling and recognizable horror films of all time. Synapse Films is proud to present this essential collection of all 13 tales of terror from the legendary British film studio into THE COMPLETE HAMMER HOUSE OF HORROR collector’s set!
In 1980 Hammer took over the old Hampden Manor House in the heartland of England and produced a series of thirteen horror stories to air on British television. With a host of Hammer regulars, including Peter Cushing (Twins of Evil, Star Wars) and Denholm Elliott (Raiders of the Lost Ark), classic thespians including Brian Cox (The Ring), Patricia Quinn (The Rocky Horror Picture Show), Georgina Hale (The Devils), Diana Dors (Theatre of Blood) and Dark Shadows stalwart Kathryn Leigh Scott, along with early appearances by actors like Pierce Brosnan (GoldenEye), each episode provides a completely new and individual tale of terror and suspense.
The Thirteenth Reunion
The House That Bled to Death
The Silent Scream
Children of the Full Moon
Guardian of the Abyss
Visitor from the Grave
The Two Faces of Evil
The Mark of Satan
Episode Introductions with Film Historian Shane M. Dallmann
GRAVE RECOLLECTIONS: A VISIT WITH KATHRYN LEIGH SCOTT – Featurette
HAMMER HOUSEKEEPING: A VISIT WITH MIA NADASI – Featurette
I’ve been a bit too long in posting this review. Perhaps it’s simply because, after viewing HEADER a few times, I was still unsure as to what to say about it. I’m gonna call this a half-n-halfer because I liked half the film, but the other half seemed like it should’ve been a different movie altogether, much to the detriment of the other.
On one side we have so many things I could ask for in a horror flick. Just out of jail, Travis Clyde Tuckton (Elliot V. Votek) seeks a place to stay with his crazy, half toothless, wheelchair-bound granpappy, Jake Martin (Dick Mullaney). With no job or prospects, Travis gets to spend a good deal of time with ‘ol Jake, talkin’ about the good ‘ol days when the old man brings up an old family tradition…a HEADER! What’s a “header” you may ask? Well, I’ll tell ya …SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER… a header involves an electric, rusty-ass, blood-caked bone saw (I suppose they used a regular handsaw or hatchet in the old days), a nubile young farm girl, and a BRAIN FUCKIN’! That’s right, these good ‘ol boys have a way of getting revenge that surpasses all other means of revenge. Whenever they think someone’s done ’em wrong, the worst possible thing they can do to get revenge is to get a young girl of the offending family, knock her out, cut the top of her head off, and litterally fuck her brains out. HOLY SHIT! you might be sayin’. Yeah, that’s about what I said too. Fuckin’ crazy. Anyway, these two yokels start thinkin’ about all the different families that’ve wronged ’em and go after young ladies of said clan and proceed to perform a HEADER on ’em. After a while, Travis just starts lookin’ for girls at random to do it to as I guess he’s bored. The best part of the film is a touching moment of bonding between grandfather and grandson as Travis helps the old man do his own, er, headin’.
The whole movie could’ve been about this and I would’ve been fairly happy with it. But nooooo, they had to throw in some bullshit about an ATF agent, Stewart Cummings (Jake Suffian) and his “sickly” girlfriend. Turns out, to pay for all of her expensive prescriptions (we’re not certain what the hell’s wrong with her), he’s had to turn dirty, runnin’ interference for drug dealers and eventually runnin’ drugs himself. He’s not a bad man, just a bad ATF agent. Ok, more SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS. Ok, well, he gets involved with local police when they come across one of the HEADER victims and he can’t leave it alone. He starts his own investigation (which leads him to cross paths flimsily with the HEADER boys in an attempt to tie the two stories together). He finds out what a HEADER is, finds out who a shoeprint belongs to because granpappy Jake makes custom boots, and makes his way out to the cabin to find the two ‘ol boys in the act of a good, old fashioned HEADER party. Needless to say, he blows ’em away. I mean, what else could he do, he had just come from blowing away the drug dealers he’d been runnin’ for in a double-cross, takin’ a metric shit-ton (or would it be tonne if it’s metric…um…) of money so he could finally take care of all his girl’s problems. Afterwards, needless to say, things spiral ever downward into deeper shit climaxing in a crazy ending I actually kinda liked.
So, we know which half I liked and which half I could’ve done without seein’. Based on an Edward Lee novella I’d never read, the author himself said he thought it was a story that could never have been brought to the medium of film. He was right…it was brought to video. I understand it was an independent effort, but, I mean, come on guys, you could’ve made a little bit of an effort to make the flick more, well, cinematic. Plenty of indie flicks are shot on video, and most of them suck, but some of them cut through that problem by finding fantastic actors, a better story, and better directorial talent. It feels so harsh to say it because I LOVE independent filmmaking, especially independent HORROR filmmaking (at least when it’s not a certain…OTHER…indie flick I’ve reviewed here that garnered quite a bit of heat). It’s not complete trash, I actually liked half of it, like I said, and I’d suggest it to others who wanted to see something really fucked up, but I cannot fully put the Backwoods Horror gash of approval on this one for reasons mentioned above. That’s not to say I wouldn’t like to see more from Archibald Flancranstin (Jeebus, that’s a mouthful…yes…that’s what she said) and MPYREAL Entertainment. I believe they’ve got the makin’s of an interesting indie filmmaking troupe and I look forward to their next, hopefully, HORROR outing. I also salute SYNAPSE for distributing indie horror. Keep ’em comin’! 2 out of 5 skulls.
Described as “wacky, tense” and “brutal as hell” by cult horror author, Jack Ketchum (The Girl Next Door, Offspring), HEADER is an unforgettable portrait of backwoods revenge. Stewart Cummings (Jake Suffian) is a government agent who has been playing both sides of the law. To maintain his cover, he finds himself slipping deeper into a series of gruesome murders, ultimately encountering the most twisted method of revenge: the header. Relentlessly terrifying, you may be forever changed once you learn the answer to the question, what is a HEADER?
Synapse Films’ HEADER DVD Features Include:
– Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1) Transfer
– English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
– Interview Featurettes with Cast and Crew
– Original Promotional Trailers
Look for Synapse Films’ DVD of HEADER in stores on June 30, 2009, at a retail price of $19.95.
The Deadly Spawn is a 1983 horror film directed by Douglas McKeown and starring Charles George Hildebrandt.
It follows the story of a crash-landed alien that finds refuge in the basement of a house and grows to monstrous proportions, eating those unlucky enough to venture down. A handful of teenagers try to survive the onslaught of the creature and its vile young.
The film begins somewhat like THE BLOB (taking a cue from classic sci-fi monster flicks from the 50’s, something we see throughout the flick as the story goes on) with a meteor crashing to earth in what seems like the middle of nowhere. Two guys out camping see the meteor crash, and, of course, they have to check it out. One guy stays behind while the other goes back for the flashlight. The guy getting the flashlight hears a scream and comes rushing out of the tent…only to find his DOOM! Heh. Keep an eye out for a continuity flub with the tent guy’s shirt, one minute it’s one color, and the next, it’s black…or some other color I can’t make out, the transfer’s a little dark, but more on that a little later.
Then we’re introduced to a couple, the only nudity in the flick and it’s a middle-age woman, booooo. Anyway, the hot water’s out so the guy goes downstairs to the basement to check it out where we find…THE DEADLY SPAWN, more particularly the MAMMA spawn and her spawnettes. The MAMMA spawn is a huge, red mass of tendrils and great, huge mouths filled with teeth. The guy’s wife, wondering what’s taking the guy so long in the basement goes down to check on him, and THAT’s when we get a really awesome scene. While she’s looking around, she fails to notice the massive amount of blood everywhere and, when her back is turned, her husband’s hand reaches out to her and she turns to find…well, I’m not going to give it all away, but it’s freaking awesome, including half a face getting ripped away. Friggin’ sweet!
Then we find another couple waking up in the SAME HOUSE to a scream, and I was confused at first about why these people were in the same house and if they heard the scream from the earlier chick downstairs. Turns out to be the TV of their nephew, Charles, watching a monster flick. Turns out their nephew is a huge fan of horror/sci-fi flicks (a character we can really relate to). Friday the 13th 4, The Final Chapter came to mind, with the monster movie fanatic (played by Corey Feldman) in that one. As with that flick, this kid had plenty of horror masks and costumes he’d made himself.
Turns out there are about a billion people living in this house right now. The two that went down into the basement were the mother and father characters, and the other, still living couple, is the monster-kid’s aunt and uncle (the uncle, a psychologist, whom later questions monster-kid Charles’ horror “fantasies”), there’s also the older brother Pete, a highschool kid with an obsession for science far outweighing Charles’ love of monster flicks.
Moving on, the aunt, Millie, leaves the house to go to a vegetarian get-together at her mother’s house. While gone, an electrician (monster fodder) shows up to take care of some wiring or something (it’s never really explained) and makes his way to the basement using a cellar entrance outside. Needless to say, he wanders around until…THE DEADLY SPAWN! attack. While that’s going on, head-shrinker uncle Herb decides to use Charles as a study for a paper he plans to speak on regarding child psychology at a conference he’s in town for.
After the questioning (which I believe was the screenwriter’s jab at critics who believe horror movies corrupt and generally fucks up the minds of America’s youth), Charles decides to go upstairs and put on one of his costumes to frighten uncle Herb when he notices the basement door ajar. Because this is a horror movie, of course he goes downstairs to check things out. Meanwhile, Pete has invited a few of his friends over to study biology and other subjects of science for an upcoming test, Ellen (another science fiend), Kathy, and Frankie (reminding me of Shelley from Friday 3, as this guy plays the stupid joker).
Ellen and Frankie came across what (unbeknownst to them) one of THE DEADLY SPAWNETTES and Ellen decides to disect it, finding a mass of internal organs that don’t fit in with any biology of the creatures of this world. Pete waves it off as a prank, of course, though Frankie believes it and goes off about houseflies from Jupiter, not convincing Pete, obviously. Meanwhile, Charles has come across MAMMA SPAWN and her SPAWNETTES and has noticed that they’re crawling about everywhere, digging into the walls and floor. He also notices that the SPAWN react upon sound alone to locate it’s prey…so he’s stuck down there for a while.
Then the movie kicks into gear with the Old-Lady veggie party being invaded by a flock of SPAWNETTES that begin tearing into the grannies. Aunt Millie has to help beat them off and get the Blue-Hairs to her car, screaming all the way. Back at the house of 1000 relatives, Pete and his pals have too found themselves under attack by the SPAWNETTES.
I’m not going to go on with the rest as I recommend everyone go out and rent or buy this movie as it’s a fun, old-time horror/monster flick you just don’t see anymore. You won’t be disappointed, that’s a BACKWOODS HORROR guarantee!
I remember seeing this flick as a kid of about 4 or 5 and remember absolutely loving it. Of course, at that age, I was intensely frightened, but couldn’t stop watching. I actually have, at my parents’ house, one of my school notebooks with my poorly sketched version of the MAMMA SPAWN. These days, I still have a great love for THE DEADLY SPAWN, though no longer do I find myself having to resist covering my eyes (except for when the middle-aged boobies show up).
I must admit that, when I watched it last week with Owen (from THE BACKWOODS HORRORSHOW), I found myself getting more of the humour of the flick that I obviously missed as a child. That, in addition to a cool monster and buckets of blood and gore, puts this flick on my top-list of must-see horror flicks. I also loved the character of Charles and found, like many horror fans who watch this movie, I’m sure, that I saw much of myself in him. I can relate to a closet full of masks and costumes (I always kept my halloween costumes, and would beg for some even when it was ‘out of season’), and, instead of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND mags scattered everywhere, I had FANGORIA. And of course my walls were plastered with horror movie posters as his were. To have a character like that be the protagonist in a monster/horror movie makes this an instant hit with anyone reading this site I’m sure.
This is most assuredly the cleanest transfer of this film I’ve ever seen (used to, as I’ve been, to old and worn VHS copies). This was also commented upon in the humourous and insightful commentary track I listened to the other day before falling asleep. Does anyone else do that? Fall asleep to commentary tracks of your favourite movies, I mean…it’s better than booze and sleeping pills. Not that it’s ever boring, it’s just, calming. Anyway, moving on.
The special features included an old theater for the trailer where the movie went by the flick’s other title: RETURN OF THE ALIENS: THE DEADLY SPAWN. There was the commentary I featured, a “comic semi-prequel” leading up to the beginning of the movie, an alternate opening (of which I couldn’t tell much of a difference), filmmaker Biographies (from which I learned that Tim Sullivan of 2001 MANIACS fame worked on the flick as a production assistant), and a neat little shot-on-video “behind the scenes” short showing a bit of the work of the makeup/special effects artist John Dods.
My final verdict…Pick It Up Today! Also, I’d like to thank SYNAPSE FILMS for sending Backwoods Horror this flick for review. Look for a future review of HOME SICK, which they were also so kind to send. Thanks Guys, and keep up the good work getting flicks out on DVD that may have never been seen otherwise (and for taking a serious interest in the genre and presenting these films in such beautiful transfers and giving them the special editions they deserve)