You don’t think of Synapse when you think of t.v. on DVD.  Indeed, this fan-favorite label is best known for cultish movies from all over the world rather than made-for-tele­vi­sion fare.  However, their line of Hammer acqui­si­tions — which has includ­ed well-reviewed titles Vampire Circus and Twins Of Evil — has led them to put out a box set of Hammer House Of Horror, a one-sea­son anthol­o­gy series pro­duced by the famous British stu­dio in 1980.  The results proves that not only can Synapse do t.v. fare, they can do it as skill­ful­ly as their major stu­dio com­peti­tors.

To start with, the­se episodes look bet­ter than they ever have on a U.S. home video release.  Those who remem­ber this show from the old Thriller Video tapes with the Elvira intros or the smudgy-look­ing DVD set from A&E will be knocked out by the Synapse pre­sen­ta­tion.  This set has all-new trans­fers in the orig­i­nal 1.33:1 ratio that fea­ture vivid detail and rich col­ors.  It looks as good as any top-notch t.v. on DVD trans­fers you care to men­tion.  In terms of audio, the set retains the orig­i­nal 2.0 mono mix­es for each episode and they sound good, with a solid blend of son­ic ele­ments and no dis­tor­tion or dam­age.

Synapse has also added a few extras to sweet­en the deal.  Each episode fea­tures an option­al intro by Shane M. Dallmann: the­se bits last between 1 and 2 min­utes and present Dallmann’s com­ments over ani­mat­ed images.  These intros pack a lot of info into a brief run­ning time, includ­ing a lot of handy triv­ia about the oth­er cred­its of the pri­mar­i­ly English casts, and the imagery always com­ple­ments the com­men­tary.

There are also a pair of inter­views with two actors, Kathryn Leigh Scott and Mia Nadasi, both of whom appear in the show’s “Visitor From The Grave” episode.  Like the episode intros, the­se bits were pro­duced by Daniel Griffith and both pack some inter­est­ing infor­ma­tion into a short space.  Scott talks about her his­to­ry of the gen­re, includ­ing a stint on Dark Shadows, what it was like to work with Peter Sasdy and the many friend­ships she made work­ing on this show.  Nadasi’s chat fol­lows along sim­i­lar lines but she hap­pens to be mar­ried to Sasdy so that adds an inter­est­ing extra lay­er to her take on the episode.  She also talks about her career in Hungary before mov­ing to the U.K. and how her exper­tise as a dancer led her to work with Sasdy on some of his fea­tures.

In short, Synapse’s Hammer House Of Horror set is not only a big improve­ment in tech­ni­cal qual­i­ty for fans of the show but it also offers a thought­ful­ly curat­ed treat­ment of the show.  Add a gen­er­ous price point for the set and that makes this a can’t miss propo­si­tion for fans of old-school hor­ror.

To read Schlockmania’s fea­ture review for Hammer House Of Horror, click here.