Blu-ray review: Ghost Story

Starring: Fred Astaire, Melvyn Douglas, Alice Krige
Director: John Irvin

ghost-story 1This adaptation of Peter Straub’s best selling novel has tended not to be very highly regarded by horror buffs because of its choice of middle of the road director John Irvin and its diverges from the source material, while for movie critics it came at the tail-end of the ’70s vogue for all-star casts of old Hollywood names long past their prime. And yet Ghost Story is undeniably creepy and forbidding. The octogenarian stars bring a real whiff of mortality and world-weariness to their roles as the ageing town worthies nursing a terrible secret, there’s a delicious chill to the wintry New England ambience as photographed by DoP Jack Cardiff, and all this is contrasted with a sensual, erotic frisson courtesy of the beautiful Alice Krige as the wronged woman returned to settle scores. Throw in some Dick Smith FX for an extra goo factor, and you have what amounts to a tasty slice of supernatural fare for the Yuletide season. 8/20

The transfer is a little soft, with a few tiny scratches and blemishes, but it has some very nice moments – the glowing close-up of Krige next to the electric fire, the dream sequence in the church with its directional amber lighting, the brightly lit flashback to the 1920s, all these have plenty of crispness and presence. 7/10

A really outstanding set of extras kicks off with a lively and engaging 28-min interview ghost-story 2with Alice Krige, who talks about her early life and career (she originally planned to be a psychologist), working on location and her self-consciousness during the nude scenes. ~ A frank and amusingly eccentric 39-min interview with Peter Straub which will be of great interest to fans of the author. Topics covered include his writing methods and his love of jazz, and he also reads excerpts from the novel. ~ 29-min piece in which the producer and scriptwriter talk about the difficulties of adapting a complex novel. 28-min featurette on the FX, with some fascinating insights into the matte-painter’s art. ~ Audio commentary with John Irvin, who speaks articulately about his creative choices on the film. 10/10


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