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A Warning to the Curious [1972] [DVD] (Tv-Film)


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Product details

  • Actors: Peter Vaughan, Clive Swift, Julian Herrington, John Kearney, David Cargill
  • Directors: Lawrence Gordon Clark
  • Writers: Lawrence Gordon Clark, M.R. James
  • Producers: Lawrence Gordon Clark
  • Format: PAL, Full Screen, Colour
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Bfi
  • DVD Release Date: 25 Nov 2002
  • Run Time: 50 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00007IG4X
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 57,560 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

The second offering in the BBC's 'A Ghost Story for Christmas' series. Paxton (Peter Vaughan) is an archaeologist whose curiosity is aroused by the tale of three crowns buried on the Norfolk coast which, so the story goes, protect England against invasion. When he finds the last of these crowns, he also unwittingly wakes the spectre of their now-dead guardian, who comes after the archaeologist seeking revenge.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Mr P. D. Kinnear on 16 April 2006
Format: DVD
What's more scary? A slavering monster in outer space or the disquieting notion that you may not be alone in a dark room? I'd go for the latter any day, and that's the power of plays such as this one where atmosphere triumphs over gloss and CGI.

A WARNING TO THE CURIOUS has a simple plot, but it's the encroaching isolation and emptiness of the setting that make it so effective. It's the still morning mists which may conceal more than you see, and the hints of something just beyond your perceptions that make it "scary".

The "ghost" of this story makes several appearances, all of them being chilling in a way that's difficult to explain. From a simple, indistinct figure watching you from a distance to a stark white face peering at you from the woods at night, all place you ill-at-ease and make you long for the warmth of something tangible & familiar. The ultimate appearance in a blacked-out bedroom made my stomach dip - There's no technical trickery of sudden "BOO" editing - It's the awful dread of sharing this terror with the main character and realising how, as children, we've all seen a "bogeyman" in the shadows of our own homes.

The cast are excellent - We never think Peter Vaugn's likeable amateur archeologist deserves his fate, and the finalé (which I won't share) seems logical yet unjust. These people could be us. We may do the same as them and reap a similar "haunting", and that's what brings the fear closer to home.

I wish more of the MR JAMES plays had been released, as there's really nothing like them on television now. This DVD also has an atmospheric reading of the original story and is equally worth your time.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By S. Hapgood VINE VOICE on 1 Dec 2003
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
Adapted from an M R James short story "A Warning To The Curious" is an incredibly atmospheric short film (50 minutes long in total) set on the Norfolk coast. Peter Vaughan is a Cockney amateur archaelogist, who comes to Norfolk determined to find the only surviving crown from ancient times. Naturally when he gets to the small fishing village of Seaburg the locals are distinctly unenthusiastic about his presence there. There is something almost like the stark surrealism of "The Wicker Man" about the village scenes.
He finds the grave of a local man, an eccentric, who died several years before, who it is now believed is the evil spirit guarding the final resting-place of the crown. Undaunted by this Vaughan takes his shovel and goes into the woods to dig it up. From then on he finds himself being followed by a strange figure in black, who appears and disappears in the most unexpected fashion.
The scenary in this is quite simply breathtaking, with the gorgeous broad isolated beaches of North Norfolk made good use of. A lot of the mounting tension is also helped by effective use of music. If you want an effective ghost story for the dark winter nights you won't go far wrong with this.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Darren Ross on 23 Dec 2006
Format: DVD
An excellent film! For once this is a BBC adaptation that respects the original text, sticks pretty much to James's story, and is all the better for it. The landscape is brilliantly used, the acting is nicely understated and the mood of the film is pitched just right.

Most importantly, the director has made a genuine attempt to sustain our fear and suspense over the full course of the story (and succeeds). Too many of the BBC adaptations of M R James have inserted pointless social commentary or inexplicably meddled with scenes, thus lessening the fear, but not here. Lawrence Gordon Clark has kept the aim of scaring an audience firmly before him and has made what is arguably the best ever ghost story on film. The simplicity of the mechanisms used to frighten us are almost laughably simple but their fiendish effectiveness puts more expensive special effects to shame. Aside from Psycho, I cannot name one film that genuinely scared me, but I watched A Warning to the Curious with the lights off and it gave me the absolute heebie-jeebies. This is a masterpiece in simple, subtle direction.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Dark Paths VINE VOICE on 14 Mar 2005
Format: DVD
Originally broadcast in 1972, I first saw the 1992 repeat of this haunting drama, as part of the Christmas line-up. It stayed in memory, and nightmares, until it was finally released on DVD.
Adapted, produced and directed by Lawrence Gordon Clark, it is a powerhouse of subtlety, and understated tension.
Never has the British landscape seemed more haunted, and rarely has television been this eerie. A must for supernatural fans, and classic TV. Simply put, this is one of the scariest films you are ever likely to see. It has influenced many excellent televised ghost stories, and interactive fiction (computer games) such as Dark Fall.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Helen M Lindsell on 9 Jan 2003
Format: DVD
Finally the BBC has released some of the Classic 70’s Christmas Ghost Stories, A Warning to the Curious being one of my all time favourite ghostly tales.
Based on a supernatural story by M R James and staring Peter Vaughan, this atmospheric and eerie production is set in Norfolk at the coast. Legends tells that there are three crowns buried on the coast which are said to protect England from invasion.
An amateur archaeologist unearths the last remaining crown whilst treasure hunting, with absolutely no idea of the terror he was letting himself in for
The dvd version also include a reading of the original story by Michael Horden
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