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This was a hoot!
"Norman Shendley" (Denholm Elliot, of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" fame), plays a man both haunted and delighted by his dreams. The dreams are so real that he, and we, aren't sure what's reality and what isn't. However, we can see the purpose of the "dream" as the story goes along: getting a man to murder his wife and run off with his hot secretary! The dreams are a combination of sexual fantasies and nightmares.
Regarding the fantasies, Lucy Gutteridge is the most fun to watch and gives a perfect demonstration on how wigs and clothes can make a woman look totally different. In each dream sequence, she's always "Lolly" but with a totally different look and character, although always the bimbo until the real and normal Lolly appears at the end. She does a great comedic job with this role.
James Laurenson's facial expressions as "Raburn" are funny and Pat Heywood gives a realistic performance as Norman's wife "Emily." She reminded me a bit of Anne Ramsey in "Throw Momma Off The Train," but not as gruff. Actually, the more the story went on, the less of a villain she appeared. She and Norman, frankly, deserved each other! I won't say more because I don't want to give away everything in this very inventive episode. I've only seen a few of these Hammer TV episodes, but this is my favorite so far.
This was a great mix of horror, comedy, fantasy and suspense, with a heavy emphasis on the humor.
The beginning is very weird, in fact it's just like the trailer of this episode. We see things happening that we couldn't place and even when the episode really starts you never know if it is happening of if we are in a dream. It's very well done, no special effects but it's the editing that makes this episode. You have to watch very closely to sort all things out. Once you do you will be fooled again. It reminded me a bit of what they did later in Hellraiser 6, there we were in dreams too and just when you think it's all over well... The performances are great here especially Lucy Gutteridge, she appears in all kinds of persons and even has to do some nudity if you watch quickly. Anyway, typical Hammer.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Hammer House of Horror: Rude Awakening tells the tale of successful
estate agent Norman Shenley (Denholm Elliott) who is contacted by a Mr.
Rayburn (James Laurenson) who wants a nearby property called Lower Moat
Manor put on the market & sold, Norman agrees to take a look at the
property & drives out there to discover a large rundown house. Inside
things turn strange when he hears a voice which says he shouldn't have
killed his wife Emily (Pat Heywood) & he is horrified when her
seemingly dead body falls out of a service elevator in the wall, Norman
then wakes up & is relieved to discover it was only a nightmare.
However things go from bad to worse as the vivid & terrifying
nightmares continue as Norman's line between fantasy & reality becomes
ever more blurred...
Rude Awakening was episode 3 from this unfairly short lived British anthology horror series produced by Hammer studios for TV & this story originally aired here in the UK during September 1980, the second of three Hammer House of Horror episodes to be directed by Peter Sasdy (this was sandwiched between The Thirteenth Reunion & Visitor From the Grave) I thought this was a great episode. The script by Gerald Savory is an excellent psychological horror thriller that manages to blur the lines between fantasy & reality really well which isn't easy, usually when a large proportion of a film or TV program is either a dream or fantasy it becomes difficult to relate to it & the constant 'is this real or not' becomes annoying & sometimes confusing but Rude Awakening handles it as well as anything else I've seen. It helps that at only just over 50 minutes in length it moves along at a great pace, it never becomes boring & it never outstays it's welcomes & everything that's here seems relevant in a proper structured framework & it comes together very well at the end. The character's & dialogue are both good & as a whole this is a neat piece of psychological horror.
As usual the low TV budget didn't help & out goes the traditional Hammer Gothic period setting & in comes a early 80's English setting (those bright red phone boxes brings back some memories I can tell you), this helps in the fact that you can relate to it but obviously it loses a fair amount of atmosphere. There's no gore in this one but there is a bit of nudity although the strong well developed story definitely kept me interested. The acting is good & this is very well made with a cinematic feel to it which is no surprise when you learn director Sasdy made several feature films for Hammer including Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970), Countess Dracula (1971) & Hands of the Ripper (1971).
Rude Awakening turned out to be a great compact 50 minute piece of horror themed British TV, why don't they make show's like this anymore?
The real state agent Norman Shenley (Denholm Elliott) hates his old
wife Emily Shenley (Pat Heywood) and wants to divorce her to marry his
secretary Lolly (Lucy Gutteridge). When a new client wants to sell an
old and isolated mansion, Norman begins to have odd nightmares, and he
becomes confused between reality and dream. When Norman awakes, a
surprise waits for him.
This intriguing episode has good screenplay, mixing reality with dream, but unfortunately a deceptive conclusion. Anyway this film entertains and I liked it. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): "Despertar Repentino" ("Sudden Awakening")
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Norman Shenley has a series of nightmares which involve three common
denominators , a mysterious man called Mr Rayburn , Shenley's secretary
Lolly and the murder of Shenley's wife . Are these vivid nightmares
easily explained or are they part of a self fulfilling prophecy about
to come true ?
The two things I remember from this episode on my first viewing of it away back in 1980 was that the pre title sequence wasn't a teaser trailer but a montage of scenes from the episode itself and that the episode ending was a relatively smart plot turn . I should perhaps qualify my new opinion by stating that the twist ending isn't really a massive cop out that every screen writing guru warns you to avoid but the whole episodes function seems merely to exist to build up to that ending
That said this episode is relatively enjoyable but it's very much an episode of its time and culture . Benny Hill was a massively popular comedian and his shows were still event television in 1980 and one could believe this would work very well as a five minute Hill sketch . It does contain all the iconography of a man in late middle age having a nagging wife and sexual designs on his secretary who's young enough to be his daughter . Perhaps this should be bared in mind when watched in 2013
The small cast weren't going to be up for BAFTAs in 1980 but they are more than functional at playing their characters and Denholm Elliot's hyperactive performance in the last five minutes as he tries to convince Rayburn that it's only a dream is probably what made the episode stick in my mind . Lucy Gutteridge as Lolly is also good playing her character in multiple ways often sultry and sometimes as a virginal maiden . Don't be too puzzled why in one scene she appears at work dressed up as a schoolgirl because JIM'LL FIX IT and IT'S A KNOCK OUT were popular shows in those days and like I said you have to understand the cultural context it was made in
After the morbid second "Hammer House of Horror" episode, "The Thirteenth Reunion" already delivered a generous dose of dark comedy, this third episode "Rude Awakening" is yet another creepy tale with a delightfully macabre sense of humor. Out of all the H.H.H. episodes I've seen thus far (the first five), all of which I enjoyed, this one is probably the one with the wittiest and most original storyline. Denholm Elliot plays estate broker Norman Shenley, who finds himself caught in what seems to be a never-ending nightmare. On a Friday the 13th, Norman, who is having an affair with his sex secretary Lolly (Lucy Guttenridge), gets a call from an eerie voice telling him that he shouldn't have killed his wife (who is alive). This is when his nightmare begins... The episode has moments of genuine creepiness, but, predominantly, it is a bizarre dark comedy. The episode's ingenuity is, to a large part, due to Denholm Elliott, who is, as always, eccentric and great in his role. New Zealand actor James Laurenson is sinister in the role of the mysterious Mr Rayburn, and Pat Heywood fits well in her role as Norman's somewhat annoying wife, as does beautiful Lucy Gutteridge, who plays the foxy secretary/mistress. As the foregoing episode, "Rude Awakening" was directed by Peter Sasdy, who is known to Hammer fans for directing "Taste the Blood of Dracula" (1970), "Countess Dracula" (1971) and "Hands of The Ripper" (1971). Sasdy once again succeeds here, delivering an atmospheric, eerie and witty tale that Hammer fans should enjoy. Out of the first five episodes of "Hammer House of Horror", none has really delivered the chilling Gothic atmosphere that I love about Hammer's Horror films that they made between the mid 50s and late 70s. The episodes all had a certain charm of their own right, though, and they all were highly enjoyable to watch. Having seen the first five episodes, I have a feeling that the best of "Hammer House of Horror" is yet to come. I am especially looking forward to Episode 7, "The Silent Scream", both because it is reported to be the best episode, and (mainly) because it stars the immortal Peter Cushing, one of the very main reasons to love Hammer. This third episode is funny, bizarre and original and highly recommendable for Hammer fans.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Norman Shenley(Denholm Elliott), a country estate agent, turns up for work on Monday morning, he quickly gropes his secretary Lolly (Lucy Gutteridge), whom he desperately desires to be with, once he gets rid of his old frumpy wife. Their unprofessional canoodlings are interrupted by the first customer of the day, who introduces himself as one Mr Rayburn(James Laurenson), who as the executor of a clients will, wishes Shenley to deal with the selling of his deceased clients property, one Lower Moat Manor, an old home some 15 miles north. So with a hand drawn directional map in hand, Shenley leaves right away to survey the property, having been left the keys by Raeburn. Once there he finds the keys don't work, but no matter as the large oak carved front door creaks open, hesitantly he proceeds in to commence his survey, the house is large and unlived in, but it is furnished and very dusty, seemingly having been left as it was before the owner strangely disappeared. Shenley lightheartedly talks into an old intercom and is surprised when he is answered, the voice tells him he "shouldn't have done it" Shenley asks who it is but again he gets the same reply, he questions what it is he shouldn't have done, the reply is that he "shouldn't have killed his wife", this unsettles him. Shenley pleads innocence from the unknown voice, saying he only just had breakfast this morning with his wife, the voice replies "you killed her on Friday the 13th". With that a dead body of a woman falls from a dumbwaiter, its his wife, in terror, Shenley flees the house...with a start he awakes in his bed at home, it was all a dream, somewhat relieved he sets off for work, where he tells Lolly his sexy secretary, the strange story of his bad dream, she tells him to go check on the house to see if its really there, to settle his nerves, Shenley agrees that that would be a good idea and anyway he says reaching in to his pocket, "I still have the map Raeburn gave me" Shenley and Lolly look at each other startled, how can this be? Rude Awakening it must be said messes with the viewers head more than once, as the viewer is continuously led to believe the present scene to be the reality an the previous one to be the dream, but director Sasdy, keeps pushing the dream sequences until they cross reference each other in a way that is frankly absurd but wholly intriguing. Shenley's nightmares truly do take on a reality as the characters that inhabit his life change drastically in each subsequent dream, this makes the deduction of which is the reality all the harder to work out. The Lolly character in particular goes from ditzy bimbo to punk rocker, to a very staid conservative character indeed, so the possibility that they do or do not have a relationship is also kept under wraps until the final scene. Elliott portrays the despair of a man increasingly losing control of his life and mind superbly, although his scenes with the rather delicious Gutteridge do seem a little forced and uncomfortable, perhaps due to his sexuality. There's some rather amusing scenes with Shenley and his wife, as they discuss his dreams and their impending divorce, that she apparently knows nothing about, Mrs Shenley, despite her frumpiness seems rather nice, intimations being that it is actually her that is the hard done by one in the relationship. Sasdy, a veteran horror director with some fine films behind him, holds it all together very well indeed, its pacing is spot on and the viewer never tires of the unfolding drama. There's a few good set pieces too, even one homage to Antonio Mercero's La Cabina(1972) where Shenley is trapped in a phone booth, another has him trapped in a block of flats that is being demolished by a wrecking ball. There is one alternative possibility to the supernatural link and that is that Shenley is told he has a tumour on the brain, so like in The Mark of Satan there is maybe a possible rational explanation for his odd behaviour and his ultimately tragic deeds, either way it leaves the ending somewhat open to interpretation. This is certainly one of the better episodes in the Hammer House of Horror and 70's fashions aside, it still seems very fresh.
I really like where the Hammer House of Horror series is going, as the quality level increases with every episode I watch! The first one "Witching Time" was nothing spectacular but still fun to watch, number two "The Thirteenth Reunion" already featured the more typically Hammer trademarks and suspense and this third installment "Rude Awakening" is actually very good! The plot may not be entirely original and plausible, but it's incredibly fast-paced and rich on atmosphere as well as tension. Denholm Elliot, the cool bloke from "Raiders of the Lost Ark", stars as a middle-aged estate agent haunted by a series of hallucinating nightmares Or perhaps it's just one giant nightmare? Or maybe he's not even asleep to begin with! On Friday the 13th, Norman Shenley is lured to a remote and supposedly abandoned mansion where an uncanny voice tells him that he shouldn't have killed his wife. Suddenly the idea of murdering his wife and run off with his attractive secretary Lolly becomes very tempting, but Norman can't tell anymore whether his thoughts are real or all just dreamed. Peter Sasdy's directing is as surefooted as ever, as he creates confusion even among the viewers by implementing a bizarre dream/reality structure. The secretary's looks and attitude, for example, change in every dream and you never get to know the real her until the short movie's climax. "Rude Awakening" is low on explicit violence and bloodshed, but it oozes a dark atmosphere and most of the characters especially the supportive ones are pretty disturbing. It's a fantastic little film that'll keep you glued to the TV-screen for a good fifty minutes.
A real estate agent has a series of inter-connected dreams where
mysterious events happen. The only constants are him having an affair
with his secretary, being informed from various sources that he should
not have killed his wife, which he insists he hasn't and the presence
of a mysterious stranger called Mr Rayburn.
Rude Awakening is the third episode of the 'Hammer House of Horror' TV series and it's the best so far. What really works most in its favour is its imaginatively told storyline. Its dreams within dreams framework allows for an agreeably surreal approach to the material where strange events can happen and nothing ever needs to entirely make 100% sense. In this way its dreamlike nature ensures that it has quite a nicely off-kilter atmosphere. It begins very oddly with a series of clips showing a montage of events yet to come not unlike a trailer for the episode and then it kicks into its strange plot-line.
There are several interesting vignettes in this one including scenes in a remote mansion, a telephone box and in a block of flats about to be destroyed by a wrecking ball. The really impressive thing is that unlike some much bigger budgeted movies it actually quite often successfully captures the weird abrupt absurdity of dreams. Director Peter Sasdy definitely needs to be given a fair bit of credit here, he was quite experienced in genre film-making at he shows a sure hand with this material. Also of note is Denholm Elliot who starred in a few other Hammer and Amicus productions in the 70's. He's very good here as the central character and the whole film revolves around him really, seeing as it's a psychological horror film in essence. He is also ably supported by Lucy Gutteridge who has fun playing an array of character types in her role as the secretary. She appears in various costumes and haircuts and is a constantly surreal presence. Anyway, events are eventually resolved in a somewhat satisfying manner, with a prologue that neatly ties everything together rather well.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is the best episode in this series so far, a rather intriguing tale with a DEAD OF NIGHT (1945)-like cyclical structure and a definite surrealistic flavor. I'd even venture to call it Bunuelian, given its progression of dreams-within-dreams (a' la THE DISCREET CHARM OF THE BOURGEOISIE ) and the fact that the hero's dreamgirl delightfully played by Lucy Gutteridge exchanges her look every time she appears to fit his current state-of-mind (shades of THAT OBSCURE OBJECT OF DESIRE )! Denholm Elliott is perfectly cast as the initially smug, then bewildered estate agent who receives a mysterious visitor about the sale of a remote old property which sets him off on a nightmarish journey (with events seemingly occurring over a period of days, but it's eventually revealed that only a full day has passed). Entwined in this plot is his attempt to get a divorce from his unattractive middle-aged wife in order to take up with the firm's sluttish secretary: eventually, he can't discern dream from reality and it all ends with his wife murdered, and the girl not as willing as he had believed! Other dreams involve the demolition of a block of flats which Elliott and his secretary happen to be surveying at the moment, and the operation on the hero for the removal of a brain tumor carried out by the mysterious client and assisted by Elliott's own wife and 'lover'!
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