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Retro Review: Two Eps of Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense (1984)

Child’s Play
A TV movie with a creepy plot: a family awakens to find themselves trapped in their own home. The husband and wife at first have a somewhat low key reaction to finding that all the doors and windows are blocked by a mysterious impenetrable grey wall. Their horrible daughter Sarah (who cannot act at all) sulks.

The house is hot and getting hotter, the phone doesn’t work, the water is cut off but the electricity still works. The jerk hubby tries to hack his way out with an axe, the wife (Mary Crosby) flutters and when they switch on the TV, all there is being broadcast is an ominous symbol.

This leads to yelling about aliens and or nuclear war. Sarah brats out. Everyone’s sweating and unseen in one room green goo is pouring down the chimney and covering the floor. So far so creepy? Well sort of, the acting is terrible. But the green goo and the wife discovering the weird symbol is on everything in the house is unnerving.

The ante ups, clocks don’t work. Sarah gets brattier and the wife says children don’t act like that. They aren’t rude, secretive, tantrum throwing liars who set fires. Poor deluded woman. The family finally notice the green goo and in desperation try to dig under the wall but as they rip up the floorboard they make another creepy discovery.

Then comes the ending which you will either see as brilliant or crap, it all depends. Everything is explained and the meaning of the symbol and the family’s fate is really really creepy. This is memorable but dull.

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The Walls Came Tumbling Down
This TV movie centres on a 17th century church which is to be demolished. But a power cord strangles a builder setting a bizarre chain of events in motion. How can a power cord be aware and have an agenda do you ask? Well flashbacks to the past reveal that satanists once lurked and used the church for their own agenda.

The flashbacks to the 17th century are the best part of this. The lead satanist has a porn tache and a creepy stare, a reluctant satanist who is a David Tennant look-alike gurns and the Satanists plan revenge at some future date.

In the uninteresting modern day, people with faces like old boots wonder what all the weirdness with the church is about. There is bad acting, bad perms, an idiotic escape from police custody, a big confrontation during which people just stand around and everyone has laid back reactions to everything. This is very, very slow moving and the ending is a total WTF. Still these two eps were better than the really up itself 'Masters of Horror'.

Best Lines:
It’s just a reinforcing wall.”
“Oh come on, what is it reinforcing?”
Tags: 1980s horror anthologies
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