Customer Review

19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb folk horror - known for it, 31 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: Robin Redbreast (DVD) (DVD)
This wonderfully crafted film has almost legendary status being one of the first examples of "folk horror". A colour TV production from 1970, it survives only as a black and white film recording, and a rather grainy and battered one at that. It therefore appears rather ancient, but the quality of the story and acting soon draws in the viewer, and the shortcomings in picture quality go unnoticed.

Anna Cropper stars as Norah, a script editor spending some time at her country retreat. Whilst all the locals seem nice enough, her unease grows very gradually as she senses more is going on than she first realised, and that her life is being stage managed by others. As her attempts to get out of the village are thwarted, her experience finally culminates in sheer terror. The film uses some folklore motifs like those found in the later "The Wicker Man", and carefully weaves them in to make a deeply unsettling and surprising film. The plot twists so expertly it really becomes compulsive viewing.

The production style may be a little dated but the acting is superb. Cropper in the leading role (see also Dead of Night for another memorable performance) excels, as does Bernard Hepton, who plays the equivalent of "The Wicker Man"'s Lord Summerisle.

This is a hugely enjoyable piece of vintage TV. Its mixture of folklore and thriller with a slight supernatural edge makes it a gripping, unsettling and scary film, the perfect thing for a dark winter's night. The enjoyable country accents raise a smile, especially when Norah starts repeating their sayings.

The DVD is rounded off with a most informative interview with writer John Bowen who revelas his inspirations for the teleplay. There is also an enjoyable 30s ode to village life as a bonus film and as one would expect from the BFI an illustrated booklet containing essays and photographs.

Highly recommended, and an ideal companion to the BFI's recent releases of classic ghost stories.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 31 Oct 2013 17:17:55 GMT
Garry Watson says:
Had to choose between this and Dead Of Night today.Went for the latter but will pick
this up soon.These are essential releases from the BFI.Great stuff.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Nov 2013 00:34:10 GMT
downkiddie says:
I splurged in the summer and ordered both. I'm sure you'll enjoy both DVDs, quite different to one another but terrific TV. BFI are spoiling us this year.

Posted on 22 Nov 2013 13:19:38 GMT
Kilgore says:
Good review. I have to say though, that I'm disappointed that they haven't made more effort with this release i.e. restoring colour (as has been done with old Dr Who etc.), and more in the way of special features, such as a commentary track. Yes, I know it costs money, but this is, as you say in the review, vintage TV and an important release. I'd imagine that most people interested in buying a niche product like this would stretch to £20 for a better package. Of course, the programme itself is enjoyable as it stands, but I chose to rent it rather than buy for the reasons above.

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Dec 2013 06:32:06 GMT
DL Evans says:
More than that, Kilgore, they haven't even applied the VIDfire process, which restores the original video look and results in an amazingly clear picture - something which comes as standard on the BBC's Doctor Who releases.

Mustn't grumble though - the film itself is still worth seeing and I'm pleased to finally be able to own it at all!
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