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Ghost Stories from the BBC: The Signalman / Stigma / The Ice House (DVD)

Denholm Elliott , Peter Bowles , Lawrence Gordon-Clark , Derek Lister    Suitable for 15 years and over   DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
Price: £10.65 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Frequently Bought Together

Ghost Stories from the BBC: The Signalman / Stigma / The Ice House (DVD) + 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]
Price For All Three: £30.07

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Product details

  • Actors: Denholm Elliott, Peter Bowles, John Stride, Elizabeth Romilly
  • Directors: Lawrence Gordon-Clark, Derek Lister
  • Format: PAL
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Bfi
  • DVD Release Date: 17 Sep 2012
  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0083HHSZC
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 24,592 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Ghost Stories from the BBC: The Signalman / Stigma / The Ice House

Films by Lawrence Gordon Clark and Derek Lister

As a Christmas treat in the late 1960s and 70s, the BBC produced adaptations of ghost stories based on the works of MR 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 SIGNALMAN (1976)

When a traveller (Bernad LLoyd) stumbles upon a signalbox situated on a lonely stretch of country rail track, he is unable to believe the incredible story of its troubled occupant. Andrew Davies' (Pride and Prejudice, House of Cards) atmospheric adaptation from a short story by Charles Dickens features a remarkable performance by Denholm Elliott (A Room With a View, Bad Timing, Raiders of the Lost Ark) as the eponymous railway employee haunted by dreadful premonitions.

STIGMA (1977)

The pagan stone circles of Avebury are the backdrop for writer Clive Exton's modern-day horror. The attempted removal of an ancient menhir from a family's back garden unleashes a bloody curse on unsuspecting housewife Katharine, whose rising panic is captured brilliantly by Kate Binchy. The final offering in the BBC series to be directed by Lawrence Gordon Clark, Stigma is available here for the first time on DVD

THE ICE HOUSE (1978)

After his wife leaves him, Paul (John Stride) seeks solace at a sophisticated health spa run by a pair of sinister siblings (played by Geoffrey Burridge and Elizbeth Romilly). Strangely attracted by the scent of a vine that grows on the old ice house in the spa's grounds, Paul is drawn ever deeper into a horrifying mystery. Written by John Bowen (The Treasure of Abbot Thomas) The Ice House is available here on DVD for the first time.

Special features

  • Introduction to The Signalman by Lawrence Gordon Clark (2012, 11 mins)
  • Introduction to Stigma by Lawrence Gordon Clark (2012, 9 mins)
  • Fully illustrated booklet featuring newly commissioned essays by broadcaster Matthew Sweet and Dr Helen Wheatly

UK / colour / English language / Dobly Digital mono audio (320kbps)



Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth it for The Signalman alone ... 29 May 2012
By Bob Sherunkle TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:DVD
In Hitch-Hiker terms, I suppose this is the fourth DVD of the James trilogy. The selection makes sense, as this volume gives you the three non M R James stories of the long occasional Christmas series. I can't comment on The Ice House or Stigma, as I can't remember whether I saw them on TV (I will have to wait until this volumeis actually released) , and my automatic preference would be the missing MR James productions, i.e. Number 13 and View from a Hill, but no matter - this DVD gets five stars purely for The Signalman. (Copies of the old release of this production are advertised at obscene prices.) Denholm Elliott excels in Dickens' story of the custodian of a lonely signalbox obsessed by - he knows not what, except that it strains to the utmost his professional conscience. Lest you find the premise fanciful, you can take this as a commentary upon the new, dreadful demands of work in the Industrial Revolution; it is also worth considering that Branwell Bronte suffered malaise through his short stint working at a station which was, similarly, deserted and at the foot of a deep cutting. (Admittedly he had a few other issues - drink, drugs, inherent instability ...) Like the performance of Michael Hordern in Whistle and I'll Come to You, we are treated to an old-fashioned British "character actor" at the very top of his form; this may be a revelation to somewhat younger viewers who have seen Elliott only as the cynical butler in Trading Places. The producer is Andrew Davies; this may be his only significant horror production, but his ability to depict human nature and emphasise angst is an additional factor in the success of The Signalman.

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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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still not yet finished... 12 Jun 2012
By downkiddie TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:DVD
This is a very exciting release as some of the lesser entries into the seminal "Ghost Story For Christmas" series get a DVD outing.

The first one could not be called lesser of course. Charles Dickens' "The Signalman" still stands up as a masterpiece of television. For the first time the producers chose to leave behind the masterful ghost stories of M.R. James and try something different. There were plenty of James stories they could have adapated, nevertheless this classic was an inspired choice.

"The Signalman" is the tale of the titular character, stationed on a lonely railway cutting guarding the tunnel portal. On dark and misty nights a figure appears along the tracks, and death always follows... Mostly a two-hander, the original story was quite different in style to James' work, as is this adaptation. It really is the perfect Victorian ghost story for Christmas: atmospheric, chilling and the shock at the end. Superb cast and well dramatised by Mr Andrew Davies.

The other two stories were radical departures: original screenplays in contemporary settings. They were less well received than the period pieces but actually hold up rather well. Their modern day setting (late 70s anyway) actually brings out the terror all the more, giving them a chilling and claustrophobic feel.

"Stigma" is a cautionary tale; if you have neolithic standing stones in your garden, don't try to move them. If English Heritage don't get you then some malevolent prehistoric force will. It actually uses a few Jamesian elements in its story as terror builds within a country home, and the ending is suitably gothic. Well acted, featuring Peter Bowles among others, this is a worthy successor to the brilliant episodes in the series that went before.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One complete classic and two oddities 20 Sep 2012
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
As has been mentioned in an earlier review, this DVD is worth the price for The Signalman alone. Speaking as a massive M R James fan, I still think The Signalman is the most accomplished, most frightening and best produced of all the Ghost Stories For Christmas. The performances are truly spellbinding, Denholm Elliott is incredible as the signalman. Watching this, he must be the most underrated actor of his generation. If you like ghost stories, you really do need to see The Signalman.
Stigma is OK, not on a par with the others in the series, but as the standard is generally so high, that's not necessarily damning with faint praise. Worth watching.
The Ice house is downright weird. I've only seen it once so far, I think it may need three or four goes to get to the bottom of it. I guess you could say it is "interesting", the peculiar dialogue made me think it was supposed to be set in a 1970s-style future, where people all speak very properly, with no contractions or apostrophes, but it would appear that's not the case. Something to get your head around, albeit not as satisfying as the other two.
Anyway, buy this for The Signalman, if nothing else, and do yourself a massive favour.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Shivers down the spine 20 Jan 2013
Format:DVD
The Signalman is a well-known Dickens story brought to life - the railway cutting, the signal-box and the ghost by the tunnel are all just as I imagined them, the acting is superb, and the atmosphere creepy. It is the best of the three films by a long way.
Stigma is also creepy but in a totally different way. There is a lot of blood, some nudity, and a lot of unanswered questions such as "Why didn't she get a doctor sooner?"! But the story links ancient misdemeanours with modern consequences, which is a fairly common them in these stories - in other words, the past comes back to bite the person who dares to uncover it.
The Ice House looks terribly dated to me, and I have to say the acting is not as good as it could be. Again a good story, but I don't like the camera work in places, and there are a lot of gaps in the plot and action where you have to fill in with your own imagination, if you can.
Overall I am glad the BBC has re-released these three on DVD, and I think the set is worth the money - just. I would probably pay that for the Signalman on its own, to justify the cost.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
old ones are the best ones.
Published 2 months ago by slf
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
ok but a bit old
Published 2 months ago by Robert Young
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good to watch around Christmas time. Reasonable quality.
Published 2 months ago by Malvernian
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
I bought this for 'The Signalman' only so can't really comment on the other two - haven't watched them yet. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Grumpy Grandad
3.0 out of 5 stars Time past
Its dated as far as ghost stories go, however the Signalman still holds sway. I might have remembered it as better, still will look for further dvds on this line
Published 8 months ago by Ronald P. Hayes
2.0 out of 5 stars Ghost Stories from the BBC The Signalman / Stigma / The Ice house
I found this compilation of ghost stories abysmal, the acting poor, the story lines inane, a travesty for BBC Drama. Read more
Published 11 months ago by jennifer Harrison
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!! Very happy indeed.
My dad had watched the stories previously and enjoyed them. I bought the DVD and gave it to my dad as a birthday pressy which he was over the moon with. Read more
Published 16 months ago by fitman30
3.0 out of 5 stars Ghost Stories
This DVD had three individual stories but was not as good as I had hoped, however, they were still watchable.
Published 17 months ago by maggie
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
I love the singnalman story!. This was the cheapest way to buy it, as its so expensive on its own.
Published 19 months ago by Ruth
5.0 out of 5 stars I like this movie.
Hi.I have been reading the signal man by Charles dickens in swedish.And i must say
that the novel and movie is the same in every detail.A reel old-fashion ghost story. Read more
Published 19 months ago by anders
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