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

26 customer reviews

Price: £10.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £20. Details
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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: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B007ZR8YUO
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 29,447 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

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

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

69 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Armchair Pundit VINE VOICE on 14 Jun. 2012
Format: DVD
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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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Bob Sherunkle VINE VOICE on 28 May 2012
Format: DVD
[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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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By downkiddie TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 29 Jun. 2012
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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