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Chiller: The Complete Yorkshire Horror Anthology
is known for its green hills and savory pudding. However, the region is also rife with
supernatural activity, if one can judge from a Yorkshire produced anthology
series that aired in 1995. While totaling
only five episodes, it built up a cult following, so this should be a happy
Christmas for fans now that Chiller—the Complete Television Series has just been released on DVD by Synapse.
may not have done Chiller any scheduling
favors, but the show maintained a surprisingly gritty, mature vibe. Indeed, one of the striking consistencies throughout
each installment is the rather grim, depressed look of the characters’
environment. In fact, a bit of urban
renewal kicks off a whole mess of trouble in the initial episode, Prophecy.
Monsanto’s family diner is about to face the wrecking ball, but not before some
of her drunken hipster friends convince her to hold a séance in the
basement. It always creeped her out down
there—with good reason. It was loads of laughs at the time, but one by one they
suffer grisly accidents that were in some way foretold by the Ouija board. Stranger still, the son of her fabulously
wealthy new boyfriend seems to be involved somehow. Featuring Chariots
of Fire’s Nigel Havers as the well-heeled Oliver Halkin, Prophecy is one of the best of the
series, cleverly blending all kinds of genre elements, including ancient evils
and exorcisms. It will also be of particular
interest to teen horndogs for Sophie Ward’s fleeting nude scene as Monsanto.
contrast, Toby, the second episode,
is the weakest of the short-lived series.
Miscarrying after an auto accident, Louise Knight and her husband
naturally move into a spooky old house with a macabre history, hoping to start
over. Before long, she appears to be
pregnant again, but the ultrasound says otherwise. Essentially, Toby recycles elements of Bradbury’s story “The Small Assassin” and
scores of subsequent demonic baby films.
Here Comes the
represents a return to atmospheric form for the series, capitalizing on the
eeriness of the abandoned church where a young social services case is
squatting with his homicidal imaginary friend, Michael. Phyllis Logan (widely recognizable from Downton Abbey and Lovejoy) stars as Anna Spalinsky, the lucky caseworker who inherits
Gary Kingston’s file when her predecessor dies an untimely death.
like the standard “skeptic learns the hard way” tale, The Man Who Didn’t Believe in Ghosts develops some interesting
twists and ambiguities. Richard Cramer
is an Amazing Randy style writer whose books discredit paranormal humbug. Suffering a stroke after a television appearance,
he naturally relocates with his family to the big, spooky Windwhistle Hall, where
the former owner’s wife died in a tragic “sleep-walking” accident. Why doesn’t anyone ever want to recuperate in
the city, with plenty of people around?
Nevertheless, the Cramers cannot resist the low asking price, only to be
terrified by a series of mysterious accidents as soon as the move in. Of course, Cramer is not going anywhere, lest
he commit professional suicide.
as it began, Chiller ends with one of
its strongest episodes. Every full moon,
a serial killer preys on the children of the aptly named burg of Helsby in Number Six, perhaps inspired by the
ancient druid rituals once (and maybe still) practiced in the region. Indeed, there may be both human and
supernatural agencies involved. Quite engaging
as a police procedural, Number Six also
boasts some of the series’ most sinister moments.
Chiller makes perfect sense for
Christmas viewing. There is a big
turkey dinner at the Cramers (which becomes magically infested with maggots),
a mass is held (as part of an exorcism),
and kids chant nursery rhymes (derived from old Druidic rites). As a stocking stuffer for anyone who enjoys horror
anthologies like Tales from the Crypt
and Hammer House of Horror, Chiller is a solid bet. Recommended for fans of British genre
television, the short but complete series is now available on DVD from Synapse
Labels: Chiller series, DVD