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Classic Ghost Stories of M R James [DVD]

Robert Powell , Michael Bryant    Suitable for 12 years and over   DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
Price: 18.15 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Classic Ghost Stories of M R James [DVD] + Dead of Night (DVD) + Supernatural (2-disc DVD set)
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Product details

  • Actors: Robert Powell, Michael Bryant
  • Format: Dolby, PAL
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 12
  • Studio: Bfi
  • DVD Release Date: 28 Oct 2013
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 20,889 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description


After the success of their Ghost Stories for Christmas collection, the BFI presents another volume of classic BBC adaptations of the chilling work of M R James

These partially-dramatized readings by actor Robert Powell (Jesus of Nazareth, Mahler, Tommy) were originally broadcast to terrified audiences during the Christmas of 1986. Finally made available here for the very first time on DVD, these blood-curdling tales include such classics as 'The Mezzotint' , 'The Ash Tree' , 'Wailing Well' , 'The Rose Garden' and 'Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad' .

Also included as an exclusive bonus on this release are the M R James episodes from the 1980 BBC TV series Spine Chillers - 'The Mezzotint' , 'A School Story' and 'The Diary of Mr Poynter' presented by celebrated actor Michael Bryant (star of the 1974 Ghost Story for Christmas episode The Treasure of Abbot Thomas ).

Special Features

  • First time on DVD of these BBC TV adaptations of classic M.R.James stories
  • All five episodes of the rare BBC TV series Classic Ghost Stories (1986)
  • Three episodes of Spine Chillers (1980), produced by the BBC's Jackanory team
  • Illustrated booklet with new writing and full credits

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Ghost Stories of M R. James 8 Nov 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I am a huge fan of M R James which started from watching these wonderful stories as a child thanks to the BBC adapting them for their annual run of A Ghost Story For Christmas back in the 70s. I had many a restless night back then as a result but at the same time I was completely hooked. Christmas and the dark of winter is made all the more special for me when the lights are low save a solitary candle and glass or two of Port is poured as I sit down to watch or listen to these wonderful stories, So I am delighted the BFI have decided at long last to bring these stories from a most magical time into the present onto DVD, I am also eagerly awaiting the remake of the M R James story The Tractate Middoth by the brilliant Mark Gatiss this Christmas 2013 on BBC2. I hope the BBC will now keep adapting all of the great work of M R James for the BFI to bring out on DVD or better still Blu Ray, I like many thousands of people will gladly buy them.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I wanted to wait until Christmas to watch this but I just couldn't resist! Halloween seemed like a good excuse to listen to some ghost stories anyway.

I've been a fan of M.R. James for some time so I'll always be a little biased but these stories should please anyone looking for a winter 'chiller'. They bring something a little different to the table especially when compared to a fully dramatised story because there's just the teller in his study with only a few small parts of each story brought to life visually.

The Christopher Lee Ghost Stories for Christmas which are on the BFI Ghost Stories Definitive Collection box set are fairly similar to this and just as good.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Readings 3 Nov 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
The hugely under-rated Robert Powell gives five tremendous readings of classic M R James tales. The best is probably The Mezzotint, a spooky story about a haunted picture. The picture itself is beautifully visualized and lends an extra layer of creepiness to Powell's supreme delivery.

Spine Chillers isn't bad as a special feature, Michael Bryant does a fine job himself, although the slightly shorter running time of his three episodes restricts the build-up of tension somewhat.

This DVD is somewhat brilliant, but I am docking a star for the continued absence of the missing Christopher Lee episode (The Ash Tree), inexplicably omitted from last year's otherwise wonderful Ghost Stories For Christmas box set. "Classic Ghost Stories" has been included in the expanded edition of that set, so there really is no excuse...
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
By downkiddie TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
These short presentations of classic ghostly tales by M.R. James are among the best TV versions of the master's work, and probably my own personal favourite. Compared to Lawrence Gordon Clark's famous adaptations from the 1970s these are short and simple affairs. Each episode, dating from Christmas 1986, is just 15 minutes long but captures the story perfectly. In their storytelling rather than dramatisation format they are the closest to M.R. James's original stories and his fabled storytelling sessions.

Robert Powell stars as the storyteller. Set in the library in his dean's lodge, he relates the tale in his beautifully unctuous voice. His storytelling skills are superb. A slight pause here and there, a knowing look or maybe a slightly raised eyebrow add wonderfully to the presentation of the story. In three of the tales there are also cutaways to a little dramatised action from the tale.

Nowhere is this used better than in "The Mezzotint", which features the titular mezzotint and its sinister transformations. This is one of James's most effective tales and this dramatisation of it is quite brilliant. Seeing the mezzotint in the action is a simple device to help the listener visualise, without overdoing it. Equally the rather horrible spiders on the bed scene in "The Ash-Tree" is much more sinister in this one than the better known 1975 adaptation.

The set used for the storytelling is lovely to look at. The library is furnished with interesting bookcases and antiquarian books, a roaring fire and tapestry curtains, whilst various props in the storytelling are used to add to the interest.

Since many of James's words are used verbatim these are faithful adaptations, even if they are abridged.
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42 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A RARE TREAT! 20 May 2013
By peter41
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
The BFI is to be congratulated for releasing these gems from the BBC archive. The sequence of stories by M R James, narrated by Robert Powell in 1986, did not please all admirers of James' stories. They were clearly made on a limited budget. Each tale was pared down to fifteen minutes. The main set (a scholar's study) was a little stagey and some of the special effects were less than good. It is also true that the physical appearance of Powell's storyteller was somewhat eccentric. However, these have to be minor objections. What is remarkable about the stories presented on this DVD is that they seem to last about twice as long as the stated duration (the 'Spine Chillers' stories are just over ten minutes long).

I have to confess at this juncture that I have not had access to the actual DVD so cannot comment on the technical quality of the product. I have seen recorded copies of most of the original broadcasts and my comments are based on these. If you are a fan of the BBC presentations of M R James' ghost stories these are not to be missed. Every encouragement should be given to the BFI to release treasures like these.

'The Mezzotint' appears in both collections. Michael Bryant's version was clearly used as a prototype for the later one but it does possess its own scholarly atmosphere and Bryant brilliantly evinces a sense of unease. He was a consumate master of that particular skill. Powell's version benefits from the introduction of dramatised sequences. However, the main impact of each of these productions resides in the way that James' words are confided to the viewer by the narrator.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars More like a audio cd than a DVD
This DVD is just Robert Powell sitting telling ghost stories. More like a audio cd than a DVD. The stories are reasonable but I wouldn't recommend buying it.
Published 9 days ago by Douglas Mearns
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent readings by both Robert Powell and Michael Bryant
Excellent readings by both Robert Powell and Michael Bryant... could do with a few more 'Extras' but well worth the purchase.
Published 1 month ago by Andrew Brian
5.0 out of 5 stars Good old M.R.James
good story's by M.R.James still one of the finest writers ever. ecxelent presentation !
Must see!
Published 2 months ago by M.J.J.Helmerhorst
5.0 out of 5 stars Christmas chills from a Cambridge don
Although not set at Christmas, James’ short ghost stories are synonymous with wintry nights in the gloom by the fireside, and the BBC’s presentation of six of his best-loved tales... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Scaroth, Last of the Jagaroth
5.0 out of 5 stars At last!
I have been waiting years for these short stories to appear on DVD, the picture quality is fair for it age & stands being enlarged in its 4:3
ratio on a modern 40 inch screen.
Published 5 months ago by Nimrod48
5.0 out of 5 stars review
I bought this as a Christmas gift and she loved it and said it is a fantastic item! :-) :)
Published 6 months ago by reviewgirl
4.0 out of 5 stars Ghost Stories DVD
This was very well received over the festive period! The description was very clear and helped us to choose the correct collection of M R James stories.
Published 6 months ago by catwitch
3.0 out of 5 stars Over priced for the content
Sadly, I had already purchased the original BFI set when this additional volume was released. Its an interesting piece in that it condenses a number of James Stories into glorified... Read more
Published 6 months ago by M. Hevingham
5.0 out of 5 stars Too scary for me!
Bought for my husband. He loves MR James. I watch from behind a cushion! Great gift to give away to appreciative other!
Published 7 months ago by M
3.0 out of 5 stars classic ghost stories
It was okay but it was not the one i thought it was which i saw on on television a few months ago.
Published 7 months ago by jean morris
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