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Witching Time (Hammer House of Horror episode 1)

Witching Time was the first episode of the Hammer House of Horror series to air back in late 1980. Set on the remote Woodstock farm in rural south London, Witching Time follows the life of horror film composer David Winter.

Witching Time (Hammer House of Horror episode 1) 9th November 20171 Comment
Hammer House of Horror Witching Time

One evening David is composing the score for a new film when a loud but brief storm hits. When his dog, Billy, goes running off, he pursues it into the nearby horse stables. However, in the stables he doesn’t find Billy; instead he finds a mysterious woman in a black robe lying in the hay.

Black magic woman

Witching Time (Hammer House of Horror episode 1)
David Winter introduces Lucinda to electricity

Lucinda claims to be a witch from the 17th Century who managed to escape her execution by sending herself forward in time to the present day. She is played excellently by fiery red head Patricia Quinn. Lucinda is probably my favourite of the four main characters in this episode. Her portrayal of the ever-maddening witch is an entertaining watch, albeit not as scary as I would expect from this series.

As she becomes infatuated with David, Lucinda finds new and interesting ways to get inside his mind. Using the knowledge of David’s wife’s infidelity to her advantage, Lucinda slowly twists his mind against her so she can try and have him to herself.

Winter is coming

I knew I recognized the actor playing David Winter by not only his face, but also his distinct delivery of his lines. It was none other than Jon Finch, who I remembered from Hitchcock’s underrated ‘Frenzy’. Finch plays David with a similar, direct intensity – even in quieter scenes – that I remembered fondly from Frenzy.

I enjoyed seeing David’s slow descent into madness as the story escalated towards its heated conclusion.

What happened to Billy?

Witching Time (Hammer House of Horror episode 1)
Lucinda Jessup frightens Mary

Although this is not the strongest – or my favourite – episode of the series, it does have one of my favourite concepts for a story. The horror is downplayed considering it’s the first episode of the Hammer House of Horror. However, there are plenty of unsettling moments that should appease the hardest of Hammer Horror fans.

Unfortunately nobody knows what happened to billy.

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