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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars closer to rosemary's baby than the wicker man i thought., 13 Jan. 2014
This review is from: Robin Redbreast (DVD) (DVD)
John Bowens' best work I think........firstly the two main protagonists are well matched , norah is oxford educated , worldly and quick-witted , not your usual ''scream-queen'' at all! Mr fisher is self-educated , cunning and calculating.
mrs vigo is like a village ''headwoman'' but occasionally slips up , on a few occasions giving norah a clue as to her fate.

Like john bowen's other work it is very wordy and detailed , so there is extra information to be gleaned of repeated viewing , even on my third viewing I still picked up the odd extra detail.

I invite fans of this production to try watching ''rosemary's baby'' and see that in fact rosemary was quite clever , she worked out pretty much the whole scheme but in the end was led along to the horrible end as norah was.

robin redbreast really ignited my interest in ''folk horror'' so I have a few recommendations for lovers of this sort of stuff.

1/ ''play for today'' - ''a photograph'' by john bowen : mrs vigo is played by Freda bamford again and is really evil in this one , you could think of this as a sequel to robin redbreast , a slow start but the climax of this play is quite shocking , highly recommended if you can find it.

2/ ''murrain'' - by nigel kneale : a vet discovers a suspected witch living near by when he pays a call to a farmer. excellent drama , again a great companion piece to robin redbreast and a photograph. ( to be found as a extra on the ''beasts'' dvd. )

3/ ''here's a health to the barley mow'' - bfi : about 6 hours of folk traditions from throughout the uk , wonderful footage and documentaries and its all real !

I do think that ''robin redbreast'' is the best folk shocker ever made for television , I've watched it so many times now I know fishers dialog by heart.......

the small screen has gems to offer though they are thin on the ground , so for those fans of ''blood on satans claw'' , ''night of the demon'' , ''night of the eagle'' , ''the wicker man'' etc .......''robin redbreast'' is a treat !
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Showing 1-10 of 20 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 13 Apr 2014 12:44:51 BDT
Kilgore says:
Another programme that may be of interest is the episode 'A Place to Die' in the Brian Clemens 'Thriller' series. It is very similar to Robin Redbreast in some ways, although it does lack RR's subtlety. Fans of 70s supernatural/folk horror drama might enjoy it though.

I have to say, 'Here's a Health to the Barley mow' is one of the most unsettling real-life footage collections I've watched. I can't say why exactly, but there's something very spooky about it, in my opinion.

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Apr 2014 19:19:54 BDT
Andrew Sims says:
thanks kilgore , i forgot about that one , i have the thriller boxset so i will watch it again.

that reminds me that another essential is ''warning to the curious'' for its links to ancient british folklore and superstition.

the scene inside the antique shop is interesting where skeleton is spotted by Paxton , the shopkeeper reminds him of human sacrifice and the old rhyme ''london bridge is falling down'' that may refer to the practice of burying the murdered person at crossroads , bridges etc to ward off evil spirits.

if anyone can think of any other films or tv programmes like RR it would be great if you could mention them.

Posted on 14 Feb 2015 18:20:15 GMT
Sam I am says:
Your review has made me want to buy this DVD and track down the other recommendations you mentioned, as it's always worth discovering "New Gems".
My own recommendations are:

1/ Oh Whistle and I'll Come to You. (The original 1960's version )

2/ The Owl Service. ( TV Series)

Thanks for a good review!!

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Feb 2015 21:47:35 GMT
Andrew Sims says:
thanks sam ,

I already have those gems in my collection , it is amazing to think how the ''owl service'' was a teatime children's programme when broadcast and now it would need to go out post watershed !

for me the ''holy grail'' of folk horror is actually a BBC NATIONWIDE news report broadcast in 1976.
it was about celtic stone heads discovered in a garden that brought about a werewolf......a DR anne ross and her daughter witnessed a huge black monster in their house and the BBC did a reconstruction , since 1976 it has transpired that the heads were made as a hoax , however as ''folk horror'' goes it affected me for life , maybe because I was only 9 years old when I saw it and the reconstruction was terrifying , it was not lost on me even at that age that the BBC would not show such a thing without good reason.
it is understood that the news footage still exists and would love the BBC to release it.

if you like john bowens writing checkout ''the ice house'' and I also like ''stigma'' ( 1977 ) both ''ghost stories for christmas'' , maybe you already have them ?

although my main passion is for supernatural tales of a ambiguous nature , a prime example is ''what big eyes'' by nigel kneale , I also like good old fashioned horror , rarely done without a vulgar amount of CGI these days. I am looking forward to a film called ''august moon'' by Randy Fabert a werewolf movie of the old school and what can be seen so far looks amazing , I hope the project can be completed as so far only a few stills and a video preview are available.

in the meantime I recommend ''La notte dei diavoli'' ( night of the devils ) 1972 , it is a great movie , bags of atmosphere , it has a ''brit horror'' feel to it too , and why not ''planet of the vampires'' by Mario brava ? see what can be done with a couple of fake rocks left over from another movie , great film I thought and made with hardly any money.

Posted on 26 Feb 2015 16:09:09 GMT
Speedicut says:
I recently acquired a copy of 'A Photograph' and I have to say it was very disturbing indeed. Not gory or particularly violent, but it really touched a few Deliverance-type taboos; and the denouement was so unpleasant it knocked me sideways.
I've got a copy of RR but have yet to watch it. After reading your review I'll definitely take the time to catch up and have a look at it.
I also have a copy of 'Beasts' so I'll take the time to dig it out and have a gander at the extra, 'Murrain' ( In fact, I had no idea it had any additional material with the box set ........ quite the find for me! ).
Thanks for the review, and your mention of 'A Photograph' reminds me that there are still a few of us folk-horror enthusiasts about.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Feb 2015 00:33:35 GMT
Andrew Sims says:
''a photograph'' is indeed very disturbing !
SPOILER ALERT : the murder at the end is unlike anything I have seen on screen , I even looked up the poison used online to see if indeed it was real and the effects the same , evidently john bowen does his research and does not thankfully feel the need to ''dumb-down'' the dialogue.

''murrain'' is a favourite of mine , is mrs Clemson really a witch ? or does she exploit the villagers fears to scare them ? is the power of suggestion and fear of the supernatural enough to main or even kill ? the viewer needs to decide !

In reply to an earlier post on 28 Feb 2015 08:46:27 GMT
Last edited by the author on 28 Feb 2015 08:47:42 GMT
Speedicut says:
I watched RR last night and I really enjoyed it. I definitely take your earlier point about the similarities it shares with 'Rosemary's Baby', but I felt the heavy use of misdirection gave it a real flavour of what we saw develop in the course of 'The Wicker Man'.
Can I ask about the quality of the official release. I have a really grainy, time-locked copy, which was, at certain points, a bit difficult to follow. I appreciate that the official release won't be HD quality, but do you think an upgrade would be beneficial? ( I only ask because the B.B.C. do produce decent media, "known for it, they are". )

In reply to an earlier post on 28 Feb 2015 23:39:11 GMT
Andrew Sims says:
my copy of ''a photograph'' is from a telly recording and poor quality , I look forward to a official release in the near future but somehow doubt it will happen any time soon.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Mar 2015 08:37:03 GMT
Speedicut says:
Hi Andrew, I was enquiring about the quality of your copy of 'Robin Redbreast', not 'A Photograph'. I have both plays on a single dvd which appear to be telly recordings. I was wondering whether the RR official release is worth buying, in regards of picture & sound quality?

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Mar 2015 22:19:15 GMT
Andrew Sims says:
yes , you must buy this dvd , the quality is the best available and the subtitles are accurate and worth watching with them on as they help you absorb every plot point and in particular mrs vigo's slip ups , there are quite a few occasions where she gives away too much information.
it is always worth buying BFI releases , they need support from us , if it was not for BFI and NETWORK dvd , so many gems from years ago would never be seen again.
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