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Category:    Home > Reviews > Shorts > Compilation > Animation > Horror > Anthology > British TV > Slasher > Comedy > All Night Halloween Party (Shorts/Compilation/Apprehensive Films DVD)/The Complete Hammer House Of Horror (1980/Hammer/ITC TV Series/Synapse DVD Set)/Mother’s Day (1980/Troma/Anchor Bay Blu-ray)

All Night Halloween Party (Shorts/Compilation/Apprehensive Films DVD)/The Complete Hammer House Of Horror (1980/Hammer/ITC TV Series/Synapse DVD Set)/Mother’s Day (1980/Troma/Anchor Bay Blu-ray)


Picture: C/C+/B     Sound: C-/C+/C+     Extras: D/C+/C     Main Programs: C/B-/C



With Halloween around the corner, here are some new appropriate releases….




All Night Halloween Party is an awkward new shorts compilation set from the Apprehensive Films label that mixes some animated cartoons, a few movie trailers and even a few of the infamous stop-motion Jasper shorts (considered very racist by today’s standards) in a 65-minutes hodge-podge of items that is not for families as the case suggests, but maybe for adults who want something different.  The last few shorts don’t even have chapters and the animated shorts are not always totally identified.  Odd, see it only if you are very interested.  There are no extras, but you can play it in a continuous loop.



Next we have an upgraded reissue of the short-lived 1980 TV Horror anthology series The Complete Hammer House Of Horror from Synapse, who has added brand new extras to their version not featured on the out-of-print A&E set from 2001.  Hammer had folded theatrical film production, so they turned to ITC and attempted to launch this series as a hit, but things did not quite work out that way.


While they were about to go into hibernation, ITC was losing founder Lord Lew Grade and the show was entering a market with several such hit shows including classics already in syndication (Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, Boris Karloff’s Thriller) and newer hits having the same success (Night Gallery, Brian Clemens’ Thriller) and a big new hit (Roald Dahl’s Tales Of The Unexpected) that made this seem like a viable project.  Hammer had hit TV shows before, after all.


Unfortunately, the episodes were mixed and usually did not have the best endings, plus many of them did not add up, worked or were as well thought out as they could have been.  Still, it was an ambitious show shot all on film when so many were using videotape part or all of the time.  Many of the crew and guests stars from Return Of The Saint were here and 13 episodes were produced as follows with cast members:


1)     Witching Time (Jon Finch, Patricia Quinn, Prunella Gee, Ian McCulloch)

2)     The Thirteenth Reunion (Julia Foster, Richard Pearson, Warren Clarke)

3)     Rude Awakening (Denholm Elliott, Gareth Armstrong)

4)     Growing Pains (Barbara Kellerman, Gary Bond, Norman Beaton)

5)     The House That Bled To Death (Nicholas Ball, Rachel Davies)

6)     Charlie Boy (Leigh Lawson, Maurice Goring, Angela Bruce)

7)     The Silent Scream (Peter Cushing, Brian Cox, Elaine Donnelly)

8)     Children Of The Full Moon (Christopher Cazenove, Diana Dors, Robert Urquhart)

9)     Carpathian Eagle (Anthony Valentine, Pierce Brosnan, Suzanne Danielle)

10)  Guardian Of The Abyss (Ray Lonnen, Rosalyn Landor, John Carson)

11)  Visitor From The Grave (Kathryn Leigh Scott, Simon MacCorkindale, Gareth Thomas, Mia Nadasi)

12)  The Two Faces Of Evil (Anna Caulder-Marshall, Gary Raymond, Philip Latham)

13)  The Mark Of Satan (Peter McEnery, Georgina Hale, Emrys James)



The first 12 episodes (like episodes of Brian Clemens’ Thriller) were made into artificial TV movies for the U.S. syndicated market, so you may have seen these before in that form as well.  Episode 7 is one of the best despite a questionable conclusion, episode 9 brings together two actors who have played spies before (Brosnan as Bond and imitators, Valentine from the great series Callan) and the last episode was considered to bloody and controversial that it was pulled and censored.


However, that was the kind of show the series needed to survive, but it was too late and the series was sadly cancelled just as it was getting an edge and I won’t blame politics.  It is just a shame, so ITC continued its decline and Hammer would only rise again 32 years later, this year!


The series is still very much revisiting and is a grade-A production, especially versus the many lame genre anthology shows that followed.  Nice to see such a fine upgrade of the show on DVD.  Extras include new interviews with actors Mia Nadasi (Hammer Housekeeping), Kathryn Leigh Scott (Grave Reflections) animated still gallery and introductions to all 13 episodes by scholar Shane M. Dallmann.



Finally we have the original 1980 Mother’s Day directed by Charles Kaufmann.  A sort of retread of Craven’s Last House On The Left with the demented feel of Bob Clark’s Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things (both 1972) is more watchable than its idiotic remake, but was never a great film, can be a cheesy one and the early Troma Films success is now more of a genre time capsule than a film that works.


A mentally sick old lady has two sick murderous sons she liked to see murder and molest other people, especially young ladies, but this 90-minutres romp with its sometimes demented humor was more surprising before the majority of the films in the genre acted like this furthering its time capsule sense.  At least it is somewhat original, ambitious and part of the genre at a fresher time, but it was never a great film, is sometimes sloppy and a cult item otherwise at best.


Extras include a feature length audio commentary with Kaufmann, trailer, Eli Roth sharing his thoughts on the film (he was a fan from its VHS release) and vintage Behind-The-Scenes videos.



The 1.33 X 1 on Party is very mixed with some scratched and faded film, but also some footage that looks better than expected.  The 1.33 X 1 on the Hammer episodes were shot on 35mm film and look good for the format with hardly any aliasing and color is consistent throughout as well.  This one ought to be issued on Blu-ray and both Frank Watts and Norman Warwick (both B.S.C.) handle of the Director of Photography work well.  The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Day has some footage that shows its age, but I was very surprised how good and consistent this transfer was in its color, clean appearance and even a couple of demo shots.  I was not expecting it to look that good, but it does.


The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Party is usually poor with rough sounding flutter, harmonic distortion, background hiss and even a few brittle patches.  The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Hammer is professionally recorded for its time and sounds as good as it is going to in this codec.  That leaves the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 upgrade of the original theatrical monophonic sound on Day trying to get the most out of its low-budget sound.  Nice try, but you can still tell the film’s age and the sonic limits of the audio.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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