Hammer's 1968 American TV series JOURNEY TO THE UNKNOWN produced only 17 episodes, 8 of which were subsequently compiled into four ersatz feature films that made the rounds in syndication over the following decade, but haven't been seen since the 70s: "Journey into Darkness" was hosted by Patrick McGoohan, "Journey to Midnight" by Sebastian Cabot, "Journey to the Unknown" and "Journey to Murder" both representing the last on screen work of Joan Crawford. Like the company's policy dating back to the early 1950s, an American actor was imported to provide easier access to US distribution, continued by Hammer on both of their 1980s shows, HAMMER HOUSE OF HORROR and HAMMER HOUSE OF MYSTERY AND SUSPENSE. A sardonic Patrick McGoohan makes the most of his introductions, aiding the two stories that comprise "Journey into Darkness," apparently the first feature issued following the series' cancellation. First up is "The New People," the actual debut entry, with Hollywood's Robert Reed heading a superb British cast including Patrick Allen, Adrienne Corri, Melissa Stribling, and Milo O'Shea, in a tale that starts with such a bang that only disappointment can follow. The camera pans across a room full of fun making partygoers until it finds a dead body hanging by the neck, providing no deterrent to the merry antics; the nice buildup would have been better had the sting in the tail climax not been telegraphed in advance. It's still superior to story two, "Paper Dolls," featuring little known TV actor Michael Tolan typecast as a professor who learns that one of his students is just one of a set of quadruplets telepathically linked with each other, particularly one nasty wild child who terrorizes a rural community with his propensity for psychic arson. Too many characters clutter this cut rate "Village of the Damned," aided by another fine cast, among them Hammer veterans Michael Ripper and George Benson.
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