Carpathian Eagle (1980)

Posted by Mrs Giggles on September 10, 2018 in 3 Oogies, Idiot Box Reviews, Series: Hammer House of Horror

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Carpathian Eagle (1980)
Carpathian Eagle (1980)

Main cast: Anthony Valentine (Cliff), Suzanne Danielle (Natalie Bell), Siân Phillips (Mrs Henska), Barry Stanton (Tony), Jonathan Kent (Tader), Matthew Long (Andy), Gary Waldhorn (Bacharach), and Jeffrey Wickham (Edgar)
Director: Francis Megahy

Here’s a fun fact: Pierce Brosnan plays one of the victims of the serial killer in this episode. That’s when he was still paying his dues as a struggling actor, of course. Ah, if only they had Instagram, Vine, or whatever back in those days, he’d probably be able to pull something that could have accelerated his career.

In the opening scene, a loutish Casanova picks up a female hitchhiker whose legs seem to go on forever, and brings her to that “special room” that he keeps for assignations behind his wife’s back. He offers her a drink, and she… I think she stabs him in the chest or something, as the camera cuts away after the actor puts on his best “Ugh, I’ve been shanked by a tart!” face. So yes, there is a female killer on the loose in Carpathian Eagle, and yes, the fellow is stabbed in the chest, as Detective Inspector Clifford discovers that the two victims found so far had their hearts cut out.

By chance, he listens to a radio interview of bestselling author Natalie Bell, who discusses the subject of her latest historical non-fiction book: a character based on a countess who lived 300 years ago, who loved to cut out her victims’ hearts with a dagger. Natalie managed to track down the last living descendant of the countess during her research: Mrs Henska. He and Natalie pay Mrs Henska a visit, and the eccentric middle-aged woman claims to harbor an obsession with her murderous ancestor.

Mrs Henska claims that the countess’s victims were actually killed by her pet eagle (it’s a long story, really). She would seduce them and then her eagle would rip out their hearts – all 117 of them. Wow, the countess really got around! At any rate, Clifford doesn’t care about such hogwash, of course, but as the body count increases, Natalie wonders whether the murders are part of some kind of ritual. Could that old woman be somehow involved in the killing spree?

Carpathian Eagle – the title is a red herring, by the way – has a solid cast and a very promising story, but unfortunately, it takes way too long to make any point, and once the point has been made, the show doesn’t trust me to get it, and hence unnecessarily belabors over the point some time. The first half or so of the episode is taut, well-paced, and well-acted, plus the late Anthony Valentine looks really good on the eyes in those slacks. But it’s easy to guess whom the villain is, and my god, the show sometimes thinks it’s a good idea to keep focusing on unnecessary scenes of men getting murdered long after I’ve already seen everything the killer has up her sleeves. It’s especially worse after the episode has hit its climax, only to then hammer the nail into the proverbial coffin by stretching the episode some more to underscore the obvious.

There is nothing spooky or paranormal about this one – it’s just a thriller that somehow find its way into a horror anthology series – but for a while, it was really getting somewhere good. But it just doesn’t trust the audience to get anything it is trying to say, and as a result, this is a good idea botched by its execution.

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