19 April 2024

Growing Pains (1980)
50 min.
Airdate: October 4, 1980
Directed by Francis Megahy.
With Barbara Kellerman, Gary Bond, Matthew Blakstad, Norman Beaton, Tariq Yunus, and Christopher Reily.
Jose Cruz
After their son (Reily) suffers a painful death after ingesting toxic rabbit feed (!), the Mortons (Kellerman, Bond) take in young James (Blakstad) from an orphanage. But weird things start to occur once the mannered boy comes into their care.

For example, why is James compelled to visit little William Mortonís grave? What causes a peaceful Rottweiler to become a rabid beast? And how could all of Mr. Mortonís lab bunnies have been viciously slaughtered?

The answer, of course, is the wrath of a vengeful child spirit!

Compared to the first three strong entries, Growing Pains is truly an anomaly for Hammer House of Horror, but one in the best head-shaking (and scratching) tradition.

This episode feels inspired by the best and wackiest supernatural Italian films of the time. We have all the tried and true ingredients: weird children, animals gone wild, bodily possession, and wonky line deliveries that typically occur only through the benefit of dubbing.

Any kind of review for this strange episode would only turn into a laundry list of its bizarre choices: Mr. Morton yelling at his sonís ghost to give him his plant back; a stuffed bunny toy spilling very real innards; the rationalization that Williamís spirit is returning because the LSD-like powder he ate induced a trance in him at the time of death; and on and on.

Definitely the episode to turn on in the company of friendsóand for the extra adventurous, to create a drinking game based on how many times Mrs. Morton snaps at little James.

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