Carpathian Eagle - Pierce Brosnan in Hammer House of Horror
years after they stopped producing feature films for the cinema, Hammer
switched to television production in the early eighties and one of the
results was Hammer House of Horror, a fondly remembered series of
horror mysteries which ran in 1980 for 13 episodes.
advantage this had over the later Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense
was that the episodes were not dragged out into feature length and so
felt somewhat more compact. There are one or two duds but it remains an
enjoyable series with a great theme tune and a memorable title sequence.
series was contemporary and set in the present day (well, 1980) in a
deliberate move to make it feel like it not was riding on past Hammer
glories too much. The perms, old cars and comical fashions add to the
fun. I believe it was planned to have some period episodes in the
second series (more in the old Hammer spirit of cobblestones, horse
drawn carriages, witchcraft, buxom wenches in old inns, gothic castles
etc) but sadly they never made any more after this.
House of Horror is rife with famous faces and remains agreeable late
night fun. I would recommend this series (and the later Hammer House of
Mystery and Suspense) for anyone who loves British horror, Hammer, or
just anthology shows in general.
far from perfect but very entertaining with the famous faces, eighties
trappings, and evocative theme music and titles. At its best it stacks
up relatively well against similar things like Night Gallery and Tales
From the Darkside.
Eagle was broadcast on the 8th of November 1980. The locations used in
the episode include Great Hampden and Great Missenden. Great Hampden is
in Buckinghamshire and Hampden House was the headquarters for Hammer.
They made much use of its gothic atmosphere - including of course the
spooky title sequence for the series.
Megahy, a frequent documentary filmmaker, took the director's chair.
Megahy would go on to direct episodes of Minder, Lovejoy, and Dempsey
and Makepeace amongst others. Megahy also directed Pierce Brosnan in
1988's action nonsense Taffin. Writer Bernie Cooper had written for Man
in a Suitcase, Minder and Target. His last credit was Auf Wiedersehen
Pet in 1984.
The music is by
William Josephs. Wilfred Josephs was a respected television and film
composer whose work included I Claudius, The Prisoner, Callan, Swallows
and Amazons, All Creatures Great and Small, and The Uncanny.
actor Anthony Valentine was best known for playing Toby Meres in Callan
and Major Horst Mohn in Colditz. He was a prolific television actor for
the duration of his career, appearing in everything from Space: 1999 to
Lovejoy. His motion picture roles included parts in The Monster Club
and Escape To Athena.
Suzanne Danielle was a popular glamour girl of the seventies and
eighties and had blink and you'll miss them bit parts in The Stud, The
Wild Geese and The Professionals before being cast as the female lead
in the last gasp (mostly forgotten) Carry On Emmannuelle - where she
played the bed hopping wife of Kenny Williams as the French Ambassador
She went on to appear
in Doctor Who before being cast in Carpathian Eagle. Danielle later
worked with Mike Yarwood and featured in The Boys in Blue with Cannon
and Ball before marrying diminutive mustached golfer Sam Torrance and
retiring to concentrate on family life.
what is the premise of Carpathian Eagle? A gruesome series of murders
which mimic those of a Carpathian countess legend are puzzling the
police. In each case, the victim's heart has been removed and the
murderer (or in this case murderess) appears to be a woman who posed as
a lover to these men before she killed them.
Inspector Clifford (Anthony Valentine) is charged with solving this
case and seeks out an authoress named Natalie Bell (Suzanne Danielle)
when he hears her discussing her latest book on the radio.
is an expert on a mad countess who performed similar murders a long
time ago and may be able to put him in touch with an ancestor...
Eagle is more of a detective murder thriller than a horror story and
tends to be regarded as a middling Hammer House of Horror episode as a
consequence. It doesn't feel like out and out horror and - the final
twist aside perhaps - lacks some of the edge and atmosphere of the
better episodes in the series.
mystery of who is doing the murders is given away fairly early so the
tension comes from whether or not Inspector Clifford will work it for
himself. Honestly, even if they hadn't telegraphed the murderer you
would have figured it out in about ten seconds anyway.
wonders if they didn't consider whipping the rug out from underneath
the viewer more and make us look in the wrong direction. The red
herrings, such as they are, are patently nonsense.
good about the episode though? I love the very English Anthony
Valentine in this. Valentine was sort of known for playing villains but
he had a very likeable and relaxed screen presence in more 'normal'
roles. As ever the locations are fun too. Hammer House of Horror has a
strangely unique look with its 35mm and home counties locales.
glamour girl Suzanne Danielle can't act her way out of a wet paper bag
but then she wasn't really cast for her thesping prowess in this or
anything else. She's there to look good in the bedroom scenes (which
are deliberately amusing at times).
from the bedroom, Danielle is not terribly convincing as the dowdy
academic author Natalie, replete with spectacles and comically bad
perm. And that's a young Pierce Brosnan in a minor part as one of the
murder victims. He's a jogger who falls prey to Danielle dressed like
Marina from Last of the Summer Wine.
was around 25 at the time. 1980 was an important year for him because
he had his first film role as the IRA killer in the gangster classic
The Long Good Friday. In Carpathian Eagle, Brosnan is first seen
jogging down a hill in a terrible blue sweatshirt and tracksuit bottoms
combo. He spies Danielle in unconvincing blonde wig and pink cardigan
dress (or something) and stops to rub his stomach as if he's
anticipating a hearty meal.
Brozzer jogs over and there's a small scene of them by some swings
where Brosnan's character is basically - right, love, let's go round to
my place and look at my stamp collection. Brosnan's accent is rather
bizarre. He starts off very Irish, then he goes mockney, and then he
morphs into his normal non specific voice.
final contribution to Carpathian Eagle is a scene where they are about
to go in his digs and he tells Danielle that his landlady is a pain in
the bottom. It's interesting to look at these early roles for Brosnan.
The Long Good Friday, Carpathian Eagle, and also a small part in The
Professionals where he's in the back of a van with Bodie on a
Out of the
three, Carpathian Eagle is the least likely to make you think Brosnan
has a pretty good career ahead of him and a stint as James Bond. In
'The Long Good Friday' he's a silent assassin and in The Professionals
he's on a mission with Lewis Collins. In Carpathian Eagle he's a jogger
sitting on a swing.
rather thin and gangly in his younger years but obviously a handsome
fellow. You can see why Cubby Broccoli saw Bond potential in Brosnan
when he (apparently) met him on the set of For Your Eyes Only.
mythology investigated in the episode is mildly interesting but it
doesn't really drag it up to the Hammer House of Horror top table. This
story might have benefited from a more supernatural angle perhaps and
even presented Anthony Valentine as more of a Carl Kolchak. A detective
who has stumbled into a strange curse.
the resolution of Carpathian Eagle is predictable this episode
sometimes has the unavoidable feeling of treading water as we amble
towards the last act. This is a story that never ventures too far from
where we think we are heading. It's a recurring aspect of Hammer's
television years that is interesting to muse on. The frequent
disinclination to go for twist endings that take us by surprise.
Eagle is perfectly watchable and by no means a waste of time but it
never really goes much further with its premise than it has to and so -
consequently - never surprises or thrills the viewer in the way that
one hopes. It's worth watching though for Anthony Valentine, the chance
to see Brosnan in one of his first roles, and a strong supporting cast
that includes Dame Siān Phillips.