(ITC Movie title "The Savage Curse")
Original UK transmission: 9th February 1974
Original US transmission: 25th February 1974
WRITTEN BY: Terence Feely based on a story by Brian Clemens
DIRECTED BY: John Sichel
PRODUCED BY: John Sichel
MAIN CAST: George Chakiris (Robert Stone), Jenny Agutter (Dominie Lanceford), Anton Diffring (Jonathan Lanceford), Russell Hunter (Old Fred), John Sharpe (Jack Woodbridge), Stephen Greif (Ben Kroom), Peggy Sinclair (Miss Faversham), John Atkinson (Ben Hawkes), Barry James (Tom Whidden), Raymond Mason (Bill Gurney), Sue Robinson (Jenny), Peter Casillas (Jim Stone)
The camera zooms in on the spire of a fancy manor house, then cross fades to the face of a man in fancy costume. As he rouses from unconsciousness, he looks about in horror and begins to cry out ever more loudly "No, no...let me out! Please, somebody, let me out!" With his last cry, the solitary candle that was his only light is extinguished, and he is left in darkness.
Robert Stone arrives in England on a search for his brother Jim, who has vanished without trace following a fancy dress party at the mansion of Jonathon Lanceford, the overprotective guardian of the beautiful young Dominie. Stone feigns his way into the house in order to question the girl, but once inside finds a strange atmosphere accentuated by the owner's obsession with Edgar Allen Poe. Dominie seems oddly evasive about Jim Stone, and insists that he left her. Lanceford for his part appears friendly and accommodating, but is obviously hiding something. When Dominie confesses to Robert that she is falling in love she begs him to leave the village, but the American refuses to depart until he has determined the truth. Then, unexpectedly, he receives an invitation to attend a fancy dress party up at the house...
The sublime Jenny Agutter is the main attraction in this story, and she turns in a remarkably enigmatic and wistful portrayal of the mysterious Dominie. The brief opening teaser sequence is one of the most memorable in the entire series, although its effectiveness is somewhat reduced in the movie version. The village locals are a likeable bunch, especially the character of Old Fred (played by Russel Hunter of Callan fame). The addition of the Poe elements was truly inspired, creating a genuinely macabre and haunting story. A must see.
TV TIMES CLIPPINGS
Trivia: the haunting piece of music heard during the opening titles of the "movie" version is a genuine Laurie Johnson composition called "Lonely Stranger"