Children of the Full Moon (1980) [31 Days of Hammer Horror Review]

Jules picks up where he left off in October by running through some of the choice horror offerings from the fantastic Hammer back catalogue.You can check out the rest of our “31 Days of Hammer” by CLICKING HERE.

Released: 1980
Starring: Diana Dors, Christopher Cazenove, Celia Gregory
Director: Tom Clegg

By the late-70s, Hammer was sadly spent force in terms of mass appeal. Their last horror film in 1976, To The Devil A Daughter, had been fairly disastrous, as had their remake of The Lady Vanishes.

What they did have though, was that their name was still held in high regard with horror fans in the U.K., both young and old, with double bills regularly being shown on the BBC and Dez Skinn’s wonderful House Of Hammer magazine keeping that flag flying.

Their reputation was enough still to allow them to strike a deal with Lew Grade’s ITV franchise, Associated TV (ATV), who commissioned a horror TV series from them, to be shot on 35mm film, on the cheap.  12 episodes were made, of varying quality, but one of the finest has to be Children Of The Full Moon.

Tom (Christopher Cazenove) and Sarah (Celia Gregory) are heading deep into the West Country for what is to be a belated honeymoon. A car accident runs them off the road and to the door of Mrs Ardoy. A kindly middle-aged woman who lives in a large, secluded house deep in the woods with eight strange children, she’s instantly welcoming and encourages the couple to stay the night.

By the night’s end, Sarah has been attacked by what seems to be a werewolf and Tom has fallen from a drain pipe while trying to help her.

He wakes up in hospital, seemingly from a coma, with Sarah telling him the entire event was all a dream. Her attitude is different though, and she now has a craving for raw meat. Pretty soon she announces she is pregnant and her behaviour gets even more strange, prompting Tom to suspect even more that something really did happen that night in the woods…

Right from that wonderful cold opening of the angelic little girl turning round from the dead lamb with a mouthful of blood, Children Of The Full Moon is a brilliantly atmospheric little horror tale.

Writer Murray Smith’s idea of a family of werewolves makes perfect sense, with the leader of the pack instinctively mating with lots of females to make more cubs, just like an actual wolf. It’s almost entirely down to the magnificent performance that Diana Dors puts in that this concept flies so well, though.

Mrs Ardoy is kind, thoughtful and couldn’t be more helpful. She clearly dotes on her children (both natural and “fostered”) and displays a maternal streak towards the young couple who arrive at her door too. She’s also absolutely chilling, without ever doing a single, obvious thing to intimidate. Even her smile as she closes the door on Sarah being raped by her werewolf husband is kindly. It’s a superb performance from a sadly under-rated actress.

The script originally had the family as Hungarian (perhaps a nod to Bela in the original Wolf Man film?), but Dors lilting West Country accent is much more effective, less obviously “other” and better suited to lowering the guard of the couple who don’t realise just how much trouble they have found themselves in.

There’s not much to speak of in effects, apart from the Wolf makeup on Mr Ardoy, which is a tad on the fluffy side, but it’s two brief shots and in no way takes away from what is a very creepy tale.

Beautifully shot by director Tom Clegg, the folk horror of Children Of The Full Moon is a small story really. As unnerving as it is, it’s about family and the importance different people place on them, making it one of the best episodes of Hammer House Of Horror by some margin.

Rating: 4/5.

JULESAVThe Writer of this piece was: Jules Boyle
Jules tweets from @Captain_Howdy

Comment On This Article

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: