I first came across Under the Mountain when I was carrying out research on another cult TV series, Children of the Dogstar, which I found out about when researching about Children of the Stones. From what I can gather Children of the Stones was exported to America and shown on Nickelodeon in the early 80's alongside Under the Mountain and The Witches and the Grinnygog under the banner 'The Third Eye'. This collection of series is fondly remembered as an oddity, especially at a time when America was quite strict on what could be shown on children's television and ensuring shows promoted traditional Christian values. These series must have caused quite a stir at the time as they were never shown again after their initial showing. I'd never seen Under the Mountain but was intrigued enough to seek the series out and here is my Cult TV retro review.
The series is about red-headed twins Rachel and Theo Matheson, who visit their uncle and aunt for the Summer in Auckland, New Zealand. The twins notice a strange neighboring house and sneak into the house to find out more about its owner Mr Wilberforce. The twins realise that they are in the part of a prophecy to defeat an ancient evil which lurks beneath the house and under the mountain. With the help of an old friend they will have to fulfill their destiny and stop the evil from taking over the world. This series is based upon the novel "Under the Mountain" by Maurice Gee and is told in 8 parts over 22 minute episodes, each ending with a cliffhanger and a providing a deeper sense of mystery until the final explosive confrontation.
This story is heavily influenced by the works of H.P.Lovecraft, with the theme that creatures beyond our comprehension are here on earth and are ready to take over. The young twins, played by Kirsty Wilson and Lance Warren are very believable and earnest, especially Wilson who carries much of the emotional weight, especially the scene where they are discussing xenocide. There is a real feeling of dread and scares in this series and I'm sure that if I was the target audience at the time of it's original release I would have felt suitable scared.
Under the Mountain features a lot of external shots and taking into account that it was shot in New Zealand the scenery is wonderful, I'll resist the temptation to say anything as trite as 'the real star of the show is the scenery' or 'New Zealand is a character' but the geology and natural history of the country is integral to the story and adds a lot to the feel of the series. Due to its age the special effects are dated, the costumes are of their time (think mates 70s/ early 80's Dr who and you'll get the idea) and in today's hyper aware world Mr. Jones comes across as a little predatory, but this doesn't detract from the atmosphere or excitement of the story at all.
As someone who had never seen the series before and thus had no feelings of nostalgia I can say that considering its age the series stands the test of time well and is definitely worth a look.