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67 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grave Retribution (A Review for the Curious)
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...
Published on 14 Jun 2012 by Armchair Pundit

versus
0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
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 unreadable, very disappointing!
Published 10 months ago by Alison Rutherford


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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 "Armchair Pundit." (Durham City, England.) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Ghost Stories from the BBC: The Stalls of Barchester / A Warning to the Curious [DVD] (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? Now if only the Beeb or the BFI will release "Out of the Unknown" (Series four was more supernatural then sci-fi) and "Doomwatch", then my viewing pleasure would reach new heights.
~~~~
Also worth considering are - Nigel Kneale's "The Stone Tape" (1972).
"Schalcken The Painter" (1979) - An Omnibus presentation, it is filmed like a Dutch interior painting, truly exquisite, now see if you can spot Rembrandt!
And last but by no means least the wonderfully creepy "Woman in Black" (1989), only released on region one! Why?
~~~~
People of the MTV generation will no doubt find the pacing slow in these productions, but I suspect they will not be the ones purchasing them as the teenage body count isn't very high, and there isn't copious amounts of teenage blood on view.
For anyone who likes creepy NOT gory ghost stories I can recommend anything by M.R.James, who is to the supernatural story what Lennon and McCartney are to pop music!
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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
By 
Bob Sherunkle (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Ghost Stories from the BBC: The Stalls of Barchester / A Warning to the Curious [DVD] (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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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect chillers, 29 Jun 2012
By 
downkiddie "downkiddie" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ghost Stories from the BBC: The Stalls of Barchester / A Warning to the Curious [DVD] (DVD)
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. The production is lovely too - gorgeous academic rooms, old books, glasses of port and blazing fires - interspersed with short dramatisations from the stories. I hope the remainder of this series sees a release. If that were not enough the original 70s films have a new introduction with Lawrence Gordon Clark.

The picture quality varies, and is best on "Warning", which despite its noise and bits of damage is generally superb, it could almost be HD if you squint.

The producers of all these episodes did a wonderful job of capturing the spirit of the original stories. Nothing quite matches the thrill of reading the originals, especially for the first time, but nevertheless these are very special pieces of vintage television.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two of the Very Best!, 28 Aug 2012
By 
Peter H. Mussell (Cumbria, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ghost Stories from the BBC: The Stalls of Barchester / A Warning to the Curious [DVD] (DVD)
I bought the original BFI issue of 'A Warning to the Curious' and reviewed it on Amazon just over four years ago. Now, 'The Stalls at Barchester' has been issued with 'A Warning to the Curious' as the second feature. 'The Stalls at Barchester' is a dark tale in more than one sense. Deacon Haynes (Played by Robert Hardy) covets the Archdeacon's post, and removes him from this world by contriving to have a stair-rod removed. Once ensconced in the Archdeacon's chair, Haynes finds to his cost that supernatural forces are now arrayed against him, with ultimately, fatal consequences.

The Stalls at Barchester has a claustrophobic feel to it, mainly because most scenes are set at night-time. Robert Hardy plays Haynes as a cold, calculating person with few redeeming features. A portrayal many times removed from his 'Siegfried Farnon' in 'All Creatures Great and Small.' Unlike Paxton in 'A Warning to the Curious' Haynes does not engender sympathy.

Lawrence Gordon Clark produced both titles. Chronologically, 'The Stalls at Barchester' was released the Christmas of 1971, 'A Warning to the Curious' a year later. Historically, 'The Stalls at Barchester' was set in 1932 and 'A Warning to the Curious' 1929-30.

Lawrence Gordon Clark, writer, producer and director condemned the character of Dr Black (the excellent Clive Swift.) who appears in both adaptations, to fall victim to the highly energetic (and lethal!) ghost of William Agar just before the end credits in 'A Warning to the Curious' thus making his appearance as the academic researcher in 'The Stalls at Barchester' highly unlikely if one uses the chronology originally supplied by James*.

(*The staging of A Warning to the Curious in the depression is Clark's idea, not James's.PHM)

Both photographed by the excellent John McGlashan, these two stories by M.R. James, are the pick of the BBC's Ghost Stories for Christmas.

Extras include: Both stories (later productions) narrated by Sir Christopher Lee.
A 30+ page booklet devoted to both productions, the main actors and production staff.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No digging here!, 21 Aug 2012
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This review is from: Ghost Stories from the BBC: The Stalls of Barchester / A Warning to the Curious [DVD] (DVD)
Finally re-released classic M R James ghost stories adapted for BBC at Christmas. I already owned a copy of "A Warning to the Curious" but wanted the additional story, and with "The Stalls of Barchester" this DVD represents the best of the BFI releases (sadly Jonathan Miller's, "Whistle and I'll come to you" has been put on a DVD with the terrible adaptation from 2010 and some poor extras). All these dvds come with a nice little booklet with key cast/director biographies along with some essays on the particular stories (including one by Robert Lloyd Parry who performs James stories live and is must see if you are a fan) for that dvd. The picture quality for AWttC has been considerably cleaned up compared to my previous copy, and as a brilliant addition there are included the Christopher Lee readings of both stories. There are also introductions to both films by the director as an extra feature and they provide a useful insight into the making of them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars M R James would have approved, 16 April 2013
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This review is from: Ghost Stories from the BBC: The Stalls of Barchester / A Warning to the Curious [DVD] (DVD)
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. It comes as close to a "psychological" thriller as is possible in an M R James' story - but the cat is definitely NOT psychological! An excellent story of the expiation of guilt and revenge from 'the other side' coupled with a sensitive treatment of the period and place.
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5.0 out of 5 stars MR James devotee, 22 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Ghost Stories from the BBC: The Stalls of Barchester / A Warning to the Curious [DVD] (DVD)
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 the genre to try it, and then progress to the book!
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Warning to the Curious is the gem on this DVD., 22 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Ghost Stories from the BBC: The Stalls of Barchester / A Warning to the Curious [DVD] (DVD)
Fans of M.R. James will almost certainly love the atmospheric filming of the short story 'A warning to the curious'. Brilliantly acted and the 'grainy' filming, although probably not intended, only serves to heighten the atmosphere of foreboding. I find 'The Stalls of Barchester' less convincing, but so too was the actual short story.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Chilling tales, 10 Jan 2014
By 
Mr. A. Cleaver (Whitehaven, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ghost Stories from the BBC: The Stalls of Barchester / A Warning to the Curious [DVD] (DVD)
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!
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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars at last, 12 Jun 2012
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This review is from: Ghost Stories from the BBC: The Stalls of Barchester / A Warning to the Curious [DVD] (DVD)
two great ghosts stories the like we do not see in this day and age.so glad all the xmas ghosts stories are being released been to long.two hearts,signalman and treasure also great spooky,fire side on a rainy night tv.cant wait.
must go as a stray bed sheet seems to be hovering at my side or is it simply a warning to the curious.aaaaaaaggggggggggrrrrrr.
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