This is a 1970s BBC TV series of stand-alone horror tales. Due to budgetary restrictions, the show tends to focus on tension and suspense rather than grand guignol gore. Each tale is bookended by a narrator recounting it to an audience of Victorian Gentlemen.
A young girl is raised by upper-class English parents who have little time for her. Her mother is an invalid in a Victorian-era wheelchair. Eventually the mother passes away, and the old nanny gives the young girl a creepy doll.
After the mother’s death, the father re-marries. However, he prefers the company of other men, especially when he has his bushy-mustachio’d best friend stay over. The stepmother spends time alone with the governess, a woman who has no interest in the male gender.
The real supernatural element in the story is the creepy doll. It is supposed to be possessed by the dead mother’s spirit, but the device is so sparingly used in the plot that a viewer might miss it altogether. Naturally, the impressive climax lacks build-up and thus falls somewhat flat.
Gordon Jackson (The Professionals) is a writer who recounts a tale of his younger days. He was writing a biography of Percy Bysshe Shelley, so he followed the poet’s route across Europe to the villa at Geneva where Mary wrote Frankenstein . One night, he checked himself, his wife and daughter into a sinister guest-house.
The daughter appears to be possessed by the spirit of Mary Shelley - or perhaps by the same spirit that possessed Mary. This is where it all gets confused – was Mary possessed when she write her story, or was she merely inspired by the macabre marionette show
This is a tale bookended by a young narrator recounting it to an audience of Victorian Gentlemen. He tells them about the time he and his best friend did the Grand Tour of Europe, shuttling about in a horse and carriage. His friend became obsessed with a lady they met at an inn. She invites them back to her castle, hundreds of miles away.
The journey north ramps the tension up, as the travellers get further from civilisation (and the sights get more sinister). It is reminiscent of the works of MR James , especially Whisper and I’ll Come To You .
It is nice to see Vampirism depicted differently – the vamps have milky white eyeballs, instead of the all-black ones that nowadays mark out everyone from the Alien Oil victims in X-Files to the title character in Grimm .