REV-ELATIONS (CLASSIC HORROR TV/FILM)

Cosmic Rock

Welcome back to Rev-Elations where we're unearthing the best in classic anthology horror here at cosmic-rock.com. Thanks for the kind response. We're 3 episodes in now to Hammer House Of Horror and I find my viewings starting to feel like a visit with a strange old friend. (See previous Rev-Elations articles for some interesting backstory on the show and the Hammer company itself.)

 

First, general housekeeping.  I want to take a brief moment to thank the staff of Anarchy Wrestling facebook.com/AnarchyWrestling where I am the booker (basically the wrestling equivalent of a writer and director) for their hard work in making our live streaming PPV debut with Powerbomb.TV a giant success last week. We sold out the event for the second year in a row and I couldn't be leaving the wrestling business on a better note when my final bell tolls at the end of 2018. I will be "Out of The Office" for the next two Sundays in sunny Orlando, FL. Rev-Elations will return on 5/5/18. Anthology horror will even follow me on my vacation and I'll think of all of you as I'm plummeting to my doom on the Twilight Zone: Tower Of Terror ride at Walt Disney World, and looking at the amazing horror props and dining at the Monster Cafe at Universal Studios. As always, If you want to watch along with me, please do. This stuff is still widely available for purchase. You can buy HHOH on amazon here on DVD: https://www.amazon.com/Hammer-House-Horror-Peter-Cushing/dp/B008HSK3PE and from most other online retailers.

If you have a 4k TV and need something of better quality, it is also on Shudder, (App or shudder.com) which at 5 bucks a month is the best deal in streaming TV. And again these shows are the same age as I am, so these articles will contain spoilers!

 

This week, we're looking at episode 3 of HHOH, "Rude Awakening". The episode first aired on September 27th, 1980 on I-TV1 and was directed by Hammer vet, the Hungarian born Peter Sasdy who'd previously directed classics such as Countess Dracula, and Taste The Blood Of Dracula as well as last week's episode, "The 13th Reunion."

 

An interesting footnote of space-time magic in "Rude Awakening" as a key theme of the episode revolves around Friday The 13th (the Friday before I'm typing this was the first Friday the 13th of the calendar year of 2018). The episode first aired a mere 4 months after the unrelated slasher classic debuted across the pond in the U.S. and became one of the most successful horror films to date. The theme of bad luck surrounding the dubious "holiday" appears in this episode, but that is the only similarity. I still have to wonder if the Voorhees family franchise and their box office bonanza earlier in the year had any influence on the decision to include the theme here. As I've been unable to find any record of the production schedule of the show, it remains pure speculation.

It stars Denholm Elliot as real estate agent Norman Shenley who most American fans will remember as Marcus Brody, a crucial character to the Indiana Jones franchise, though Elliot had over 120 film and TV credits in his lifetime. We start the episode thrown smack dab into what is obviously a dream of Mr Shenley's. There are a bevy of provocative images and scenes that play out before us, and like most of our dreams are mostly nonsensical....at the time they occur anyway. He's making out with a naked lady in a phone booth, we seem him putting a pillow over a woman's face, a body falls from a dumbwaiter, a man is mid brain surgery getting his skull cut open, and more.

 

Norman then wakes up and we at least think we see the start of his normal day. He goes into the office and makes a business deal with a Mr Rayburn played by James Laurenson (Remington Steele, Cagney and Lacey and Pink's father in Pink Floyd's "The Wall"). Rayburn is trying to sell a property called Lower Moat Manor and Shenley agrees to give it a look. Here we are introduced to his absolutely gorgeous secretary Lolly Fellows (Played by legit descendant of Egyptian royalty and Golden Globe nominee Lucy Gutteridge). They don't try...at all...to hide the fact that they are obviously having an affair.

 

All normal in awake land so far? Well, it is. So far. Norman goes to the property for the inspection and surprise, it's a creep factory full of dank, dark hall ways, dingy ceilings and cobwebs a plenty. An omnipotent sounding voice calls out to Norman and it knows what he's done. "You shouldn't have killed your wife Norman." Norman says his wife isn't dead.  The voice says he killed her on Friday The 13th which is today and about that time we see the body falling from the dumbwaiter as in the earlier dream. Norman wakes up to find his wife Emily (played by Pat Heywood of the 1968 Romeo and Juliet fame) very much alive.

 

When he returns to work Norman confesses his horrible dream to Lolly who is now rocking an extremely punk look out of nowhere. She finds his dream foolish. Norman goes to actually find the house on Lower Moat with no luck. He stops at a phone booth to call Lolly, and when he pulls the map Mr Rayburn drew him and it just says why did he do it. The phone rings and the voice asks him why he killed his wife and a gas fills the booth. When Norman comes to, Lolly has arrived and they start shagging nasty in the phone booth. The context behind the opening dream montage is slowly being revealed as Norman wakes up yet again, next to his wife Emily. Norman confesses his dream and Emily thinks he's just trying to use his weird behavior as an excuse to cat around with Lolly at the office. They get in a shouting match and Norman demands a divorce, which Emily blows off.

 

The quest for Lower Moat continues and this time he finds and is welcomed inside by the staff. He think's everything is cool now and he can finally do his real estate job here, when....you guessed it...the voice reappears telling him he shouldn't have killed his wife.

The housekeeping staff join in and hang old Norman from a noose. He wakes up again with the noose at least making some sense, as Emily is trying to strangle him with a pink bed sheet. He shoves her away, she bitches about his man-whoring, and he is off to work again and this time he's really going to find that damned Lower Moat property, by golly. He meets Lolly, they flirt and head to the property. This time it is an apartment building. He and Lolly inspect it from bottom to top, but once they get on the roof the door jams and they can't get back down. They look over and see a crane with a wrecking ball en route to demolish the building they're standing on top of, and they panic. Norman found out he went to the wrong address, a little too late. He kicks the door in and they make a mad dash to the bottom to avoid the literal wrecking ball that is about to bring this building down on top of them. Lolly opens a door she thinks goes down, and it does...right into an elevator shaft and Lolly goes splat. Norman makes it to the bottom to see Lolly is actually the one driving the crane. Wait one damned minute. These things don't happen in lucidity. Yep, we're starting to realize that we may not have thus far seen one actual second of Norman being awake. Good thing right as she's about to smash him with the wrecking ball, he ...again....wakes up.

 

Emily is on the phone with his doctor at this time concerned about his recent strange behavior and she convinces him to get examined. She says she will be willing to talk about his request for divorce if he sees the doctor. The exam reveals a malignant brain tumor is the source of all of the recent strangeness in Norman's life. He has the surgery and it starts getting weird again and quickly. He can hear the surgeon and assistants speaking over him, he thinks he is awake but their conversation indicates his heart has stopped and they've lost him during the surgery. The surgeron is revealed to be Mr Rayburn from earlier, who he keeps seeing at random spots in these dreams. The assistants are Emily and Lolly. They wheel him away to put his corpse in mortuary. As he is about to meet Cold Ethyl, Norman wakes up again and this time he can't take it anymore. He sees Emily asleep next to him and he smothers her to death with a pillow. He rushes to the office to tell Lolly they can now be together with a free and clear conscience. Lolly's appearance has changed each time we've seen her, but all of them previously have been somewhat "sexy", now Lolly has a very conservative and business professional look. He pulls out a big ole' hunk of diamonds to give her and says they can now be together forever. Lolly is now completely weirded out and has no idea what Norm is talking about. He then forces himself on her and starts trying to make out with her and she is trying to pull away. He keeps telling her about their affar and she is horrified. She has no idea what the hell he's talking about. About this time two cops walk into his office. A CID Sargent and Police Inspector....Rayburn. They tell Norman they need to talk to him. His wife's sister found her dead this morning. Norman admits to killing her, but says that was only in this dream. He explains that he'll wake up any moment as they haul him away and Inspector Rayburn will play another wonderful role such as a client, a surgeon, etc. Only this time it is revealed that this is the end of the episode and it was indeed all a dream, except for that pesky last part where he ACTUALLY killed his wife. Oh and his PYT of an assistant actually wasn't having an affair with him and was actually pretty repulsed by him. Of all the damned luck. Oh wait, look what day it is....Friday the 13th. Of course. Were these actual dreams or horrifying premonitions? Was it a self fulfilling prophecy or damned fate? The only thing that is for sure is as the episode ends, Norman Shenley's horror story is just beginning.

 

This was my favorite episode of Hammer House Of Horror up to this point. It is at times Hitchcockian which we've seen previously from this director, and it definitely has Twilight Zone and Outer Limits vibes as well. It even reminded me of John Carpenter's "In The Mouth Of Madness" at times. What we're finding through these uncoverings is that Hammer really took some risks outside of their usual horror fare for these shorts on HHOH. It had a director who'd done plenty of Hammer vampire films (including Countess Dracula with goddess among women Ingrid Pitt which is one of my absolute favorites) and it had a minor amount of gore in the brain surgery scene, and it had some lovely breasts on display. Those are where the Hammer tropes end, and while I love those damned tropes what we're getting with this show is a magnificent display of them stretching the boundaries of what Hammer films had been known for, and really to me, that makes Hammer House Of Horror a tremendously under-appreciated entry into their canon. The acting was top notch all the way around and also brought what I thought were the best performances in the series up to this point.

 

If you like anthology horror, go out of your way to watch "Rude Awakening". It is a really trippy self contained story with shocking imagery, marital drama, scandalous secrets, and of course cold blooded murder. That's all for now. I'll be back in May where I'll be examining the episode "Growing Pains" where a couple who loses their son in a tragedy, adopts a new son and things are not what they seem.