1 9 6 8 (UK)
17 x 60 minute episodes
The seventeen episodes that made up Journey to the Unknown were a mixture of psychological suspense, medical experimentation and science fiction with a little murder and mystery thrown in for good measure.
Hammer Films made the series in Britain although US filmmakers Twentieth Century Fox financed it to the tune of £70,000 per episode.
A kind of English Twilight Zone, this was Hammer’s first venture into TV after establishing itself in the mid-1950s with cinematic retellings of such classics as Frankenstein and Dracula, although its first international success came with The Quatermass Xperiment (1955).
Journey to the Unknown premiered in the US (on ABC) several weeks prior to its UK debut with each episode introduced by a celebrity guest – amongst them Vincent Price and Patrick McGoohan.
But these introductions were dropped in Britain and the series was not afforded a steady run in the UK, being shown mainly in the London area with only sporadic viewings elsewhere.
Standout episodes include ‘Somewhere in a Crowd’ in which a TV host starts to notice the same mysterious faces at various accidents where people have died; ‘Matakitas is Coming’ which finds a crime reporter in 1968 mysteriously transported to a library in 1927 where the librarians are stalked by a psychotic strangler who continues his murder spree from beyond the grave; ‘Eve’, where a department store employee (Dennis Waterman) falls in love with a beautiful mannequin he calls Eve (Carol Lynley) and ultimately loses his life protecting “her”; ‘Girl of My Dreams’ – the story of a girl (Zena Walker) who possesses the ability to predict people’s deaths through dreams; and ‘The Madison Experiment’, in which an insurance investigator attempts to prove that a woman murdered her husband by programming a computer to destroy him.
A steady mixture of American and British stars appeared, including Dennis Waterman, Milo O’Shea, Stefanie Powers, George Maharis, Patty Duke, Joseph Cotton, Gabrielle Drake, Robert Reed, Nanette Newman, Jane Asher, Hermione Baddeley, Bernard Lee, Roddy McDowell, Ingrid Pitt, Carol Lynley, Robert Lansing, Barbara Bel Geddes, Geoffrey Bayldon, Jack Hedley, David Hedison, Barry Evans and Vera Miles.
Journey To The Unknown is today regarded by genre fans as one of the most underrated horror series of the 1960s, and although it has not been repeated on TV since, it did inspire two further anthologies – Hammer House of Horror (1980) and Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense (1984), which aired in America as Fox Mystery Theater.
The New People | Somewhere in a Crowd | Matakitas is Coming | Jane Brown’s Body | Do Me a Favour and Kill Me | Poor Butterfly | The Madison Equation | Girl of my Dreams | The Last Visitor | Eve | The Indian Spirit Guide | The Killing Bottle | Stranger in the Family | The Beckoning Fair One | One On An Island | Paper Dolls | Miss Belle