Customer Review

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Little known seasonal chillers, 22 Jan 2013
This review is from: Haunted [DVD] (DVD)
This DVD is comprised of two separate television plays which were broadcast around Christmas time 1974 - and that's all. There are no extras, no special features and no booklet. This is as perplexing as it is disappointing because, unlike similar releases there is very little information about these plays available elsewhere. It is also a surprising omission on the part of Network as they did such a good job with providing supplementary material for Mystery and Imagination (booklet and special features), Beasts (booklet and special features) and Casting the Runes (special features).

It seems (and I could be wrong in thinking this) that these two plays were some kind of short lived revival of the 1967 - 8 television serial "Haunted". That series was comprised of eight episodes featuring an academic who investigated supernatural goings on. Unfortunately this series no longer survives. Apart from the title and the supernatural theme the 1974 plays seem to have little in common with the earlier series. I would guess that the 1974 Haunted plays were commissioned by ITV as a rival to the hugely successful BBC Ghost Stories for Christmas. The two Haunted plays look and feel very different from the early M.R. James adaptations of the BBC series, however. A closer comparison would be with the later, contemporary Ghost Stories for Christmas dramas Stigma (1977) and The Ice House (1978).

The two Haunted plays are separate stand -alone dramas. The first is "The Ferryman" which is credited as being adapted from a story by Kingsley Amis. The story in question is "Who or what was it?" (1972). Amis's story was written in the style of a "true account" of his stay in a pub/hotel that uncanny resembled the location of his 1969 novel "The Green Man". In the story Amis and his wife come to discover that the similarities are a little too close for comfort! Amis's story proved to be overly successful in that many readers where convinced that they were reading fact rather than fiction. (For those interested Amis's story can be found in The Mammoth Book of Modern Ghost Stories edited by Peter Haining). in "The Ferryman" all of the names have been changed, but the story is otherwise essentially the same. Jeremy Brett puts in a good performance in the lead role and the location fits the story well. The picture quality is poor (little if any restoration work seems to have been made), but otherwise this is great play and worth the price of the DVD alone.

The second play "Poor Girl" is from a story by Elizabeth Taylor. Set during Edwardian times it owes more than a little to "The turn of the screw", featuring a governess who is subject to strange goings on whilst looking after her young charge. The drama explores some rather perverse sexual desires and is novel in that the story's "ghosts" are from the future rather than the past. Although the picture quality is better than "The Ferryman" this play is otherwise less satisfying, and fails to be in the least bit scary.

If you enjoyed the BBC Ghost Stories for Christmas release then you ought to check out this DVD, for further (more obscure) seasonal chills. It is a pity that "Haunted" was not continued by ITV, as it had the potential to give its BBC rival a real run for its money.
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