Click here to return to the main site.

DVD Review

DVD cover

Maelstrom (1985)


Starring: Tusse Silberg, David Beames, Trevor Baxter, Susan Gilmore, Edita Brychta and John Abineri
Distributor: Eureka Entertainment
RRP: £29.95
Certificate: 12
Release Date: 14 September 2015

Catherine Durrell’s luck is a strange thing, at the same time as being laid off from her company she is informed that she has inherited a sizable chunk of land and a factory in Norway, from the deceased millionaire Jordahl, a man she has never met. Intrigued, she travels to the small town of Ålesund to claim her fortune and to meet the family of her mysterious benefactor...

Maelstrom (1985. 6 x 45 mins) is a thriller from the talented pen of writer Michael J. Bird. The series was made for the BBC and directed by David Maloney, who had worked on genre shows, Doctor Who, Blakes 7 and produced an adaptation of The Day of the Triffids (1981).

The story centres on Catherine (Tusse Silberg) who plays a plucky, no nonsense heroine, willing to travel to Norway to discover why a man she never met had named her in his will.

Stepping off the boat she is met by Jordahl’s daughter, Ingrid (Edita Brychta), later she meets his other daughter Anna Marie (Susan Gilmore). Initially, things seem to be going well. The family has its own tragic past; including the suicide of Ingrid’s mother who owned one of the houses which Catherine inherits. Visiting the house things get decidedly strange.

The house shows no sign that it has been left abandoned, even though Anna tells Catherine that no one goes there. The house is clean and Catherine does not notice that the clock on the wall is still working. The house contains a room which she cannot open and another full of creepy dolls.

As the story continues doubt is placed on whether Jordahl was actually murdered or died in an accident, as was reported. As Catherine tries to understand her connection to this odd family even her life is put at risk. Eventually the truth reveals itself, but it is a truth which may kill Catherine.

Although the show is quite old now, the print has the original 4:3 aspect ratio and the picture has seen better days, not just the evident grain but also the occasional dirt. That said, as a thriller, the story holds up remarkably well. It’s a shame that some of the elements which would have seemed innovative in '85 have been repeated so often that some of the shock aspects will feel devalued. That is not to say that the dolls do not retain the ability to be extremely creepy.

One of the things that the show does not do well is its foreshadowing. Anyone who hasn’t worked out which of the characters is bat shit crazy by the end of episode three is not paying attention. Much of this is down to the actor involved who spends way too much time practicing their crazy eye look when Catherine isn’t looking.

Michael J. Bird’s previous series were set in the Mediterranean and much time was spent on the setting. Maelstrom is no different and the Norwegian vistas become a character in their own right.

If you’re a fan of Bird's work or just like a thriller which holds up well, after all this time, then Maelstrom is worth a look.


Charles Packer

Buy this item online

Each of the store links below opens in a new window, allowing you to compare the price of this product from various online stores.