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  • Ghost Stories from the BBC: Lost Hearts / The Treasure of Abbot Thomas / The Ash Tree (DVD)
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Ghost Stories from the BBC: Lost Hearts / The Treasure of Abbot Thomas / The Ash Tree (DVD)

25 customer reviews

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

  • Actors: Simon Gipps-Kent, Michael Bryant, Edward Petherbridge
  • Directors: Lawrence Gordon Clark
  • Format: Dolby, PAL
  • Language: English
  • 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: 17 Sept. 2012
  • Run Time: 104 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0083HHT10
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 41,352 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Ghost Stories from the BBC: Lost Hearts / The Treasure of Abbot Thomas / The Ash Tree (DVD)
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.

LOST HEARTS (1973)
When recently orphaned Stephen (Simon Gipps-Kent) goes to live with his uncle he is troubled by two terrifyting child spectres whose mischievous acts lead to a blood-curdling revelation. Based on a gory tale by masterful ghost story-teller M R James, Robin Chapman's dramatisation is a spine-chilling piece of atmospheric television which features a superb performance by Joseph O'Conor as the erratic uncle

THE TREASURE OF ABBOT THOMAS (1974)
Pride comes before a fall in John Bowen' adaptation of M R James' tale of a treasure hunt with a sticky end. Michael Bryant plays The Reverend Somerton whose self-assured intellectual arrogance masks a naked greed.

THE ASH TREE (1975)
Enlighted eighteenth-century nobleman Sir Richard Fell (Edward Petherbridge) inherits more than he bargined for when he comes into possession of a stately home dominated by a sinister old ash tree. David Rudkin's (Pendar's Fen) nuanced adaptation of M R James' short story about malevolent witchcraft features Barbara Ewing (Torture Garden, Brass) as the sorceress.

Special features

  • Introduction to Lost Hearts by Lawrence Gordon Clark (2012, 11 mins)
  • Introduction to The Treasure of Abbot Thomas by Lawrence Gordon Clark (2012, 11 mins)
  • Introduction to The Ash Tree by Lawrence Gordon Clark (2012, 8 mins)
  • Fully illustrated booklet featuring newly-commissioned essays by horror writer Ramsey Campbell, Alex Davidson and Dick Fiddy

UK / colour / English language / DVD9 / Dolby Digital mono audio (320kbps) | Region 2 DVD

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By downkiddie TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 29 Jun. 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The BBC's "Ghost Story for Christmas" arguably peaked in perfection here, with "Lost Hearts" and "The Treasure of Abbott Thomas" being spine-tinglingly good adaptations, with "The Ash Tree" not quite so successful, before giving up on M.R. James altogether in subsequent years, instead doing Dickens and then original stories.

"Lost Hearts" is wonderfully atmospheric. The cinematic production (like all these stories it was made on film on location, not videotape in the studio), the country house location and atmospheric folky music suit the story wonderfully. It's sometimes criticised for getting too gruesome too quickly (the titular "Lost Hearts" are quite literal), which goes against James's slow drip terror. The quality of the production does more than compensate for this however.

"The Treasure of Abbott Thomas" is possibly my favourite of all the productions. Michael Bryant is superb as the protagonist. Shopping channel presenter Paul Lavers appears as his young sidekick, together they make an effective on-screen team. The story is padded out slightly with non-Jamesian subplots, but on the whole this captures the spirit of M.R. James perfectly and is cracking television. Indeed, moving the action to a cathedral city in England from Germany and altering the ending makes it even more Jamesian than the story, if that's possible!

For me "The Ash Tree" was slightly disappointing. It is another superb production with a great cast (Edward Petherbridge and a young pre-Doctor Who Lalla Ward), but the adaptation didn't quite match the original story.
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27 of 28 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.]

Three more of the long-awaited best. Lost Hearts is, gorily, a literal title worthy of Poe, telling the story of an aging recluse who seeks immortality by killing orphan children. This profane brutality, of course, comes back to bite him. The Treasure of Abbot Thomas, well-guarded and hidden for centuries, is sought by a rather bumptious antiquary, well played by Michael Bryant; this production brings out James' contempt for the cocky (this story and Whistle and I'll Come to You), in contrast to his sympathy for the underdog (as in A Warning to the Curious). The Ash Tree is performed and produced well, but it is one of James' weaker stories.

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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Wayne 100 hundreds on 30 Dec. 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I first heard about these stories only recently- around october- so I thought I'd check them out. Resisting the temptation to buy the boxset-which was going for silly money on ebay with dozens of bids, I instead plumped for sensible and reliable amazon. Dipping my toes in first with 3 stories, these well written tales from the legendary MR James were written over 100 years ago yet still resonate today (like all good writing). i was too young to remember these being on (as I wasn't born when the BBC started showing these on Christmas eves in the early 70s) and am pleasantly suprised. The emphasis is on slow,deliberate build up, and compared to today's 100 mile an hour/fast cutting/fancy editing tv can take a while to get used to, but stick with it, it's worth it. I won't spoil the stories for those of you who are thinking of purchasing this dvd, but all the tales are unexpected in their unfolding. The best in my opinion is the Ash tree which stars Barbara Ewing as a witch. Well worth a tenner (or so) of any ones money. I think I'll come back to this series in the not to distant future.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Number13 TOP 500 REVIEWER on 1 Dec. 2014
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Christmas with a ghostly scare had become a BBC tradition by 1973 and was continued with these three further terrifying tales from the annual `Ghost Story for Christmas'; one scene has lived especially long in many memories. I'd recommend you buy the complete 6-disc set, currently (November 2014) cheaper than buying just two of the single discs. Ghost Stories for Christmas (Expanded 6-Disc Collection Box Set) [DVD]

These three stories include some of M. R. James' darkest writing; black magic, vengeful guardians and lethal curses, with one central message: meddle with the powers of evil and the results will not be good. Lawrence Gordon Clark's direction again used superb location filming - perhaps even surpassing the earlier stories, some excellent performances and unforgettable soundtracks. Usually, James' plots are followed closely; the one time when that was not done produced results that are, in my opinion, the best of the three. Short (around 10 min) but interesting interviews with the director and a very detailed booklet introduce the productions.
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`Lost Hearts' (35 min) is a story so dark that it is said that M.R. James wondered whether to publish it. An attractive country house, a bookish old eccentric and his young cousin, homely servants - and suddenly revealed horror. If you aren't afraid of the music of a hurdy-gurdy now, you will be. This was one of James' earliest stories and it's more conventional than most, nearer to Gothic horror than a pure ghost story. The adaptation makes some small changes, some work well, others don't seem very helpful and Joseph O'Conor portrays Mr.
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