April 02, 2006

HAMMER HOUSE OF HORROR ; THE TWO FACES OF EVIL (A 1ST CLASS EXAMPLE)








TX Date; 29th November 1980 (ITV Regional) Friday 9.15 p.m

A contender for the prize of the best, ‘The Two Faces of Evil’ was Hammer House of Horror at it’s’ most accomplished.

Along with other gems namely ‘Silent Scream’, ‘House That Bled to Death’ and ‘The 13th Reunion’, this is also fondly remembered by the British Public but many do not know where they remember it from.

The sinister yellow oil skinned figure is pure nightmare imagery and was even used as the imagery for a ‘Beware of Picking up Strangers’ public information films.

The 50 minutes is crammed to the brim with sheer desperation, paranoia and psychological delirium. The ‘unusual’ premise is that everyone has a doppelganger (a double) which was popular in early European fables.

The ‘doubles’ in this episode are pure evil embodiments and can only be identified by two flaws , a long brown fingernail similar to that of a heavy smoking octogenarian and foul teeth the sort I have only witnessed in Egypt and on run down council estates. They have the most unsettling mannerism of behaving like a threatened swan (that horrid hissing sound) when they attempt to kill their double.

The family are the stereotypical ‘nuclear’ family and when the episode starts they are travelling in their nice car, along a nice country lane, singing nice songs – ultimate suburban humans.

Then things take a turn for the worse as we can see in the synopsis, this ‘snug’ suburban shield is shattered into a million fragments as supernatural negativity takes a hold and manifests.

The ‘hitch-hiker’ is wonderfully iconic and to give credit where due, the writer must have run through a million nightmare images until he settled for the most disturbing.

The rain coated menace stays long in the memory and doesn’t really fade although utilised right at the beginning of the story. What happens is so unexpected and unsettling this jolts the nerves and jangles the soul right from the premise and doesn’t really let up until the credits roll on a disturbing conclusion…………..

The Twisted Premise

An inclement wet day but this doesn’t spoil the family outing for the Lewis’s clan.

‘Happy days’ are soon quashed though as Martin Lewis nearly runs over a man dressed in yellow oilskins.

Feeling responsible and a little guilty Martin asks the mysterious stranger if he requires a lift. The son David moves to the back with mum Janet and the stranger takes front seat.

Unexpectedly the hitch-hiker has a demented fit and attacks the father, resulting in an accident where all four are rendered unconscious.

Janet wakes up in a quaint country hospital; she is told she is very lucky to be alive. Her son is fortunately unscathed bar a few bruises. She learns that her husband has a sustained neck injury and is undergoing surgery.

The police inform her that they have a found a body believed to be the hitch-hiker and the cadaver needs identification.

She is taken to the mortuary to identify the ‘attackers’ identity although she cannot recall visually what he looked like she can recall the deformed fingernail; claw like in it’s appearance. .

When the body is unveiled – the hand is missing making identification impossible.

Although Martin returns home something just isn’t right and although the village is providing all the best facilities possible Janet and David feel isolated.

Something most sinister is enveloping reality; replacing familiarity with unease and all things positive with the blackest negativity…………..

MOST OUTSTANDING MOMENT

The near climax in the barn……………………..

CONCLUSION

Brilliant acting from the main cast and unusually angled direction make this one of the best of the 13.

Calder Marshalls performance is most intelligent and her hysterics so believable we really feel for her.

The way we find ourselves waiting for any ocular indication that Martin Lewis is about to go loco also deserves a big mention.

This among others still has a timeless ability to put the willies up most modern day viewer whether mature or much younger and sets out to remind the viewer that what they are watching is something exclusively for ‘adults only’.

Availability;

Part of a Region 2 and Region 1 DVD box set which I believe is still in print

*I have also noticed that repeats are being shown on ITV3 but judging by the description in a recent TV mag; it looks as though its run is reaching its end though.

Personally I advise buying the box set, it is most reasonable and although isn’t ‘saturated’ with extras the quality of the episodes are worth the purchase alone.


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