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Grave Retribution (A Review for the Curious)
on 14 June 2012
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!