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Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense - Mark of the Devil

episode 1

UK 1984
produced by
Roy Skeggs, Brian Lawrence (executive) for Hammer/20th Century Fox
directed by Val Guest
starring Dirk Benedict, Jenny Seagrove, George Sewell, John Paul, Tom Adams, James Ellis, Reginald Marsh, Michael Cronin, Nicholas Field, Burt Kwouk, Alibe Parsons, Robert Oates, Maggie Rennie, Hugh Morton, Marianne Sherman, Hilary Crane, Tony Sibbald, Roger Milner, Dinah May, William Derrick, Anthony Chinn, Robert Lee, Peter Settelen, Vernon Nesbeth
written by Brian Clemes, music by David Bedford

tv-series
Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Frank's (Dirk Benedict) life couldn't be happier since he has just proposed to Sarah (Jenny Seagrove), daughter of millionair Halston (John Paul), and she said yes. Unfortunately this is where his past catches up with him, as he owes gangster Westcott (Tom Adams) quite a sum of money ... and he can by no means pay for it - but Westcott gives him 24 hours.

During that time, Frank tries to sell his watch to a fence, Mr Lee (Burt Kwouk), who is also a tattooist, but when Frank finds out where Lee has hidden his money, he just steals it and kills Lee when he catches him, with Lee only being able to puncture his chest. Then frank takes the fence's money to a pokertable and has unbelievable luck ... and on the next day, he has no problems paying Westcott.

Now, Frank seems to be on the sunny side of life again, and soon enough he marries Sarah and everything should be A-ok ... only it isn't, because the small puncture on his chest has grown into a full-blown tattoo, a tattoo that identifies him as the killer of Lee, and a tattoo that keeps on growing - so much so that he cant even show himself to his bride naked in their wedding night, and his behaviour seems to get more and more bizarre.

And as if that wasn't all, eventually Westcott gets suspicious about his newfound fortunes and wants his share of the money - upon which Frank has to kill him as well as a doctor (Reginald Marsh) who wants to betray him to the police. The police is on his tail soon enough though, while the tattoo keeps on growing and growing until it covers his whole body including his face, and he turns to a voodoo priestess for help - who tells him to go to Lee's shop again, only then can (and will) his tattoo be removed. So Frank does, and immediately he is attacked by the spirit of Lee who kills him ... but in his death, Frank's curse, the tattoo, is lifted from him.

 

Very nice first episode of the very uneven Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense series, a bizarre horror story of the pulp variety with a premise that's so silly it just has to work (as many good horror films have silly premises) and which is carried by its creepy atmosphere ynd almost surreal plottwists. And Dirk Benedict, a pretty-face-actor who has turned in a lot of indifferent performances in a lot of indifferent films and TV-series, is for once perfect in his part as the handsome young groom with a very dark side to him. Too bad the rest of the series only rarely matched the quality of Mark of the Devil.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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the new anthology by
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Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD