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on 4 June 2016
From master ghost writer M.R. James, very suspenseful, unusual and original supernatural drama. A think Peter Vaughan was a very underrated actor. He is excellent.
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VINE VOICEon 1 December 2003
Adapted from an M R James short story "A Warning To The Curious" is an incredibly atmospheric short film (50 minutes long in total) set on the Norfolk coast. Peter Vaughan is a Cockney amateur archaelogist, who comes to Norfolk determined to find the only surviving crown from ancient times. Naturally when he gets to the small fishing village of Seaburg the locals are distinctly unenthusiastic about his presence there. There is something almost like the stark surrealism of "The Wicker Man" about the village scenes.
He finds the grave of a local man, an eccentric, who died several years before, who it is now believed is the evil spirit guarding the final resting-place of the crown. Undaunted by this Vaughan takes his shovel and goes into the woods to dig it up. From then on he finds himself being followed by a strange figure in black, who appears and disappears in the most unexpected fashion.
The scenary in this is quite simply breathtaking, with the gorgeous broad isolated beaches of North Norfolk made good use of. A lot of the mounting tension is also helped by effective use of music. If you want an effective ghost story for the dark winter nights you won't go far wrong with this.
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on 11 August 2008
All the BBC `Ghost Films' seem to be photographed by John McGlashan, and a fine job he does of this M.R. James chiller. First broadcast Christmas Eve 1972 and set during the Great Depression. 'A Warning to the Curious' combines the 'big skies' of Norfolk with attempts of an amateur historian from the capital (Paxton) to find a lost Saxon crown of England. Although the majority of the action occurs outside, James' plot, together with the music combine to give a pleasing claustrophobic effect. The scene involving Paxton's initial success, positively crackles with atmosphere. Forget digitalisation, this is how you film a ghost story! Roll on 'The Stalls at Barchester' - another James classic.
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VINE VOICEon 14 March 2005
Originally broadcast in 1972, I first saw the 1992 repeat of this haunting drama, as part of the Christmas line-up. It stayed in memory, and nightmares, until it was finally released on DVD.
Adapted, produced and directed by Lawrence Gordon Clark, it is a powerhouse of subtlety, and understated tension.
Never has the British landscape seemed more haunted, and rarely has television been this eerie. A must for supernatural fans, and classic TV. Simply put, this is one of the scariest films you are ever likely to see. It has influenced many excellent televised ghost stories, and interactive fiction (computer games) such as Dark Fall.
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on 19 June 2007
I remember catching this on BBC-2 many years ago, it was one of my first horror film experiences, it scared me witless!! Finally plucked up the courage to pick up the dvd, and it is still fine viewing, the performances are subtle, the photography wonderful, you can almost feel the cold winds rushing in off the sea as Peter Vaughan searches for the lost crown. The picture quality is no great shakes( it's a thirty plus year old tv film!) and the extras are limited to a brief biog and a audio reading of M R James's classic story, but i urge you to check this out now, it's how ghost stories should be told!
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on 9 January 2003
Finally the BBC has released some of the Classic 70’s Christmas Ghost Stories, A Warning to the Curious being one of my all time favourite ghostly tales.
Based on a supernatural story by M R James and staring Peter Vaughan, this atmospheric and eerie production is set in Norfolk at the coast. Legends tells that there are three crowns buried on the coast which are said to protect England from invasion.
An amateur archaeologist unearths the last remaining crown whilst treasure hunting, with absolutely no idea of the terror he was letting himself in for
The dvd version also include a reading of the original story by Michael Horden
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on 4 October 2003
This production scared the Bejeezuz out of me when I first saw it and made me an instant fan of MR James. The eerie music (Ligeti) matches perfectly the other-worldly atmosphere, and Peter Vaughan's performance as Paxton is very creepy. With other recent releases (eg The Stone Tape) we are finally getting some decent BBC ghost stories out. Add Don Wilson's "An Exorcism" and we will have all the classics.
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on 10 March 2005
One of the better adaptions of a M.R. James story.
Creepy is the word, you appreciate the lonlieness of the whole stroy and the main characters are the only people who exist.
I have actually done the walk along the shore and around that area and it made me feel more apart of the plot.
Watch for the scene when he is joined in his bedroom. Afterall we all sometimes wakeup staring in to the dark, wondering if we have been joined by a total stranger.
The long shots of the spectre are just enough for you to wonder, you don't need horror, when you have professional subtlety.
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on 31 July 2013
Allowing for the fact that this is an old film and therefore there are no digital enhancements, special effects or other jiggery pokery this is a suitably creepy film which does make you feel a little uncomfortable and disconcerted. Of course as its M R James you do know you won't be watching anything pathetic in terms of storyline, but Peter Vaughan is extremely well cast as the amateur treasure finder in seach of the final "lost" crown which protects England, and in the process of finding it unleashing the consequences. I won't say more as it will spoil the story for others, just that this is a great film for a boring evening, especially if its winter, stormy and atmospheric, that just puts the icing on the otherwise excellent film cake. I really do recommend this.
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on 12 October 2004
I relish "A Warning to the Curious" It has excellent ingredients-good acting, atmospheric location and haunting background track.
It also has an absorbing story perhaps not completely faithfull to the M.R.James story but if you have not read it anyway who cares? Above all the direction and production is first rate.
I first saw this short TV film in the seventies and the memory stuck with me until the availability of the DVD proved that my recollection of it's quality was not mistaken.
One of the best things from BBC TV of the period.
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