Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense - Mark of the Devil
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
Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense
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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
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.