Being a huge gothic horror fan and having spent my youth devouring Amicus’ horror anthology films and Hammer’s House of Horror TV series, I was thrilled to get my hands on Network DVD’s Mystery and Imagination, a series I was too young to watch when it was first shown between 1968 and 1970.
Starring the best in British talent, the show was presented by a Victorian adventurer called Richard Beckett (played by David Buck) and featured hour-long suspenseful tales by the likes of Edgar Allen Poe and Robert Louis Stevenson.
Originally shown on the ITV network, 24 episodes were made over five series. Sadly many of the episodes are now lost. But Network DVD is releasing the eight remaining episodes on four discs along with the surviving clips of Casting the Runes. There’s also an image gallery, and a super episode guide booklet covering the entire series.
The wealth of talent on display here is amazing. It’s a who’s who of famous British faces – some of whom are unfortunately no longer with us.
Disc one includes Sheridan le Fanu’s Uncle Silas starring Robert Eddison, while Ian Holm plays both creature and creator in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
Denholm Elliott’s Count Dracula seduces Susan George’s Lucy in an adaptation of the Bram Stoker tale on disc two, which also includes Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Suicide Club.
On disc three, Freddie Jones plays demented pie-maker Sweeney Todd; while Emmerdale’s Patrick Mower stars in The Curse of the Mummy, based on a Bram Stoker novel.
The final disc includes two teleplays produced by ABC, The Fall of the House of Usher, featuring Denholm Elliott and Susannah York, and The Open Door starring the legendary Jack Hawkins.
This lost classic series is TV suspense at its finest. It’s a shame they just don’t make ’em like this anymore. Now if only we can find those missing episodes?
Released 5 July