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Ghost Stories from the BBC: The Stalls of Barchester / A Warning to the Curious [DVD]

Robert Hardy , Peter Vaughan , Lawrence Gordon Clark    Suitable for 12 years and over   DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
Price: 10.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Frequently Bought Together

Ghost Stories from the BBC: The Stalls of Barchester / A Warning to the Curious [DVD] + Ghost Stories from the BBC: Lost Hearts / The Treasure of Abbot Thomas / The Ash Tree (DVD) + Ghost Stories from the BBC: The Signalman / Stigma / The Ice House (DVD)
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Product details

  • Actors: Robert Hardy, Peter Vaughan
  • Directors: Lawrence Gordon Clark
  • Format: Dolby, PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Norwegian
  • 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: 20 Aug 2012
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B007ZR8YUO
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 26,435 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

BBC Ghost Stories: The Stalls of Barchester + A Warning to the Curious
Two films by Lawrence Gordon Clark

As a Christmas treat in the late 1960s and 70s, the BBC produced adaptations of ghost stories based on the works of M R James, the Cambridge academic and author of some of the most spine-tingling tales in the English language, which were broadcast to terrified viewers in the dead of winter. This was a tradition that was briefly revived by the BBC between 2007 and 2010.

These adaptations, which have a subtlety and style all of their own, have been a major influence on many contemporary British horror filmmakers and have come to be some of the most sought after British TV titles by their legions of eager fans.

The Stalls of Barchester (1971)
While cataloguing the collection of Barchester Cathedral library, Dr Black stumbles across an intriguing box of papers belonging to former Archdeacon Haynes. In it, he discovers a hidden history of blood guilt and macabre supernatural revenge.
With its superb cast and beautiful choral accompaniment by Norwich Cathedral choir, Lawrence Gordon Clark s (Harry s Game) evocative adaptation of James short story inspired the BBC's popular 1970s series A Ghost Story for Christmas

A Warning to the Curious (1972)
The second of Clark's M R James adaptations for the BBC features Peter Vaughan (Straw Dogs, Our Friends in the North) as a doomed amateur archaeologist who pays a terrible price for his curiosity about an ancient Saxon legend.

Special features

  • Introduction to The Stalls of Barchester by Lawrence Gordon Clark (2012, 10 mins)
  • Introduction to A Warning to the Curious by Lawrence Gordon Clark (2012, 12 mins)
  • Ghost Stories for Christmas with Christopher Lee 'The Stalls of Barchester' by M R James (Eleanor Yule. 2000, 30 mins): Christopher Lee recreates M R James famous soirees, at which the antiquary would read his tales of the supernatural to eager undergraduates
  • Ghost Stories for Christmas with Christopher Lee 'A Warning to the Curious' by M R James (Eleanor Yule. 2000, 30 mins): dramatic reconstruction of one of the author's Christmas readings

UK | 1971 + 1972 | colour | English language | 45 minutes + 50 minutes | DVD9 | Original aspect ratio 1.33:1 | Dolby Digital mono audio (320kbps) | Region 2 DVD

Product Description

United Kingdom released, PAL/Region 2 DVD: LANGUAGES: English ( Dolby Digital 2.0 ), SPECIAL FEATURES: Interactive Menu, Scene Access, SYNOPSIS: Lawrence Gordon Clark directs this double bill of horror dramas adaptated by the BBC from two of M.R. James's classic ghost stories. In 'A Warning to the Curious' (1972) Mr Paxton (Peter Vaughan) travels to English seaside town Seaburg hoping to find the last of three Anglo Saxon crowns belonging to the Agers family whose last descendant has recently died. When he uncovers the crown, however, he finds himself haunted by a ghostly figure. In 'The Stalls of Barchester' (1971) Dr. Black (Clive Swift) is cataloguing the Barchester Cathedral Library when he comes across an old diary belonging to Archdeacon Haynes (Robert Hardy) who died mysteriously. Whilst reading the entries Black soon discovers that Haynes may have been cursed upon the death of his predecessor after which he was tormented by supernatural goings-on. ...Ghost Stories - Volume 2 ( The Stalls of Barchester / A Warning to the Curious ) ( Ghost Story for Christmas: The Stalls of Barchester / Ghost Story for Christmas: A Warning to the Curious )

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
67 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grave Retribution (A Review for the Curious) 14 Jun 2012
By Armchair Pundit VINE VOICE
Synopsis - A Warning to the Curious.
A impecunious amateur archaeologist arrives at a small Norfolk town intent on finding a missing crown which legend says protect's England from invasion.
Finding it isn't much of a problem, but the very act of finding it unleashes retribution from beyond the grave.
This was the second of eight "Ghost Stories for Christmas" the B.B.C. made between 1971 and 1978, and was one of the best in the series. Some other's mention "The Signalman" as the best, I have both stories but find I play this one more. Just personal taste I suppose. There is a genuine air of creepyness about this episode which is almost palpable, helped no doubt by the on-location filming.
These tales may be low on effects but they are high on atmosphere, and that's the way I prefer it.
For anyone who's interested I've listed all episodes in the 70s series below and the original trasmission date.
I've put the original author in parenthesis.
24/12/71. The Stalls of Barchester. (M.R.James)
24/12/72. A Warning to the Curious. (M.R.James) 2002 DVD release.
25/12/73. Lost Hearts. (M.R.James)
23/12/74. The Treasure of Abbot Thomas. (M.R.James)
23/12/75. The Ash Tree. (M.R.James)
22/12/76. The Signalman. (Charles Dickens) 2002 DVD release.
28/12/77. Stigma. (Clive Exton)
25/12/78. The Ice House. (John Bowen)
Unusually for the Beeb at this time all these stories were shot on 16mm film.
After being disappointed at how so little remained of the "Mystery and Imagination" TV series, I'm glad these stories are finally seeing the light of day, or should that be, darkest of night?
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Someone's watching you ... 28 May 2012
[See my review of Volume 1 for general comments on this series.]

The Stalls of Barchester is up there with James' best stories, but for some reason I don't remember this adaptation as one of the most gripping. It tells the story of a cleric who crosses a moral boundary due to ambition, and thereafter becomes increasingly entrapped by supernatural retribution. A Warning to the Curious is one of the best adaptations of the whole series. The title alone is the key to James - "don't meddle", but of course, as in the best tradition of ghost/adventure stories, they always do. The action uses superb location filming of the correct setting, James' beloved Norfolk coast. Surprisingly, but very effectively, the main role is played by Peter Vaughan, probably best remembered as Grouty, the Mr Big of Slade Prison in Porridge. The script varies from James by adding the element that the main character is almost penniless, and thus desperate for some sort of success even at the risk of his life and sanity; the same device was used in the more recent production of View from a Hill. (Don't take my word for this, watch it when the BBC release ALL the M R James productions, not just a selection!) A classic BBC horror production. (I'm almost sure that I first saw A Warning to the Curious by candlelight during the Winter of Discontent powercuts, which added to the atmosphere!)

Stop press 1 Aug 2012 - belated release of a fifth disc, with the two remaining MRJ stories, but also all five discs as a box set.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect chillers 29 Jun 2012
By downkiddie TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
These two cracking pieces of television from 1971 and 1972 properly kicked off the BBC's "Ghost Story for Christmas" season (the earlier M.R. James "Whistle and I'll Come To You" was not part of the Christmas series). They started with two of the master's best-known and atmospheric tales.

"The Stalls of Barchester (Cathedral)" is one of James's most effective stories. The mounting pressure on Archdeacon Haynes as he gets supernatural vengeance for his wrongdoing is actually rather harrowing in the book. The producers do a good job of representing this with the character here (played superbly by Robert Hardy), though it still doesn't match the book. Nevertheless, this is a superbly made and beautifully filmed episode. The Norwich location is perfect, as is the cast, which includes Clive Swift and even young Mr Grace and Mavis from Corrie!

"A Warning to the Curious" was a good choice for a follow up, although being quite different it shares the same sort of claustrophobia and incomprehensible supernatural terror. The fantastic Peter Vaughan deviates considerably from the character in the book, but still is highly effective as the ambitions treasure hunter. There is more cinematic production beautifully filmed on that most Jamesian of locations, the coast of East Anglia. Clive Swift returns, playing Dr Black, in what would be his final appearance in the series.

The bonus features bring us the same stories again, as produced by the BBC in 2000 for another "Ghost Stories for Christmas" series. These featured Christopher Lee as James in a recreation of the traditional Christmas Eve readings. Although it's hard to imagine the tall and commanding Lee as James, these are beautifully done and Lee's wonderful voice and manner is perfect for these stories.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars MR James devotee
What can I say to do this justice - nothing. I would only urge MR James fans to buy it and enjoy, and anyone looking for superior, class of its own ghostly goings on by a master of... Read more
Published 4 months ago by echo
4.0 out of 5 stars A Warning to the Curious is the gem on this DVD.
Fans of M.R. James will almost certainly love the atmospheric filming of the short story 'A warning to the curious'. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Daniel Collins
4.0 out of 5 stars Chilling tales
A delightful trip down Memory Lane and a chance to revisit the storytelling of MR James. The quality of the 70s' shows remains good - and still as scary!
Published 6 months ago by Mr. A. Cleaver
2.0 out of 5 stars poor quality
Obviously unrestored. The picture quality was poor and the sound kept dropping out. Halfway through the story my DVD player stopped and gave me the message that the disc was... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Alison Rutherford
1.0 out of 5 stars Ridiculous stories.
A very boring, long winded and ridiculous ghost story. Poorly made and completely insane stories. Regret wasting money on such garbage.
Published 13 months ago by gc pearl
5.0 out of 5 stars A Birthday Gift
See review for Lost Hearts as the two dvds were a birthday gift and were purchased together as far as I can recall.
Published 13 months ago by maureen greville
5.0 out of 5 stars M R James would have approved
Considering the difficulty of presenting a credible and growing terror without recourse to sheeted ghosts et al, this version is extremely well directed and very atmospheric. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Phil
5.0 out of 5 stars How To Produce A DVD.....
... and this is it.
M R James was the master of the ghost story and this DVD has excellent BBC productions from the 1970's of two of them, The Stalls of Barchester Cathedral... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Dr. John Bromilow
5.0 out of 5 stars probably best for halloween.
ill try and get this as 2wks from now its 31st oct. lay in bed lights off. halloween 3 is 1 of my best for 31st.
Published 21 months ago by tango
5.0 out of 5 stars Two creepy classics
Second volume of BFI's Ghost Stories series, and director Lawrence Gordon Clarke's first two films for the BBC's Ghost Stories for Christmas. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Roobarb
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