Bluray Review: GHOST STORY

sflogoWhen it comes to either cult-favorites or long lost horror films being released on Bluray for the first time, very few companies show their love for the genre as much as Scream Factory does. Whether it be fan-favorites like HALLOWEEN: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION boxset, TV horror double features such as THE INITIATION OF SARAH & ARE YOU IN THE HOUSE ALONE? or films like Tobe Hooper’s space horror film LIFEFORCE, the gang at SF do right by their fans with their selections and very rarely disappoint. Every once in a while, horror fans looking for older films they might have missed when they were originally released, are given the special treat of rediscovered gems and fright fanatics, this is one of those said gems. Very easily one of the best films that Scream Factory has released thus far, John Irvin’s 1981 thriller GHOST STORY has finally hit shelves and the question of whether or not this release is a must own can now be answered with a big, resounding YES.

THE FILM:

Doing a hell of a job with the “sins of the father affecting the child” approach that films like A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET also did very well, Irvin’s GhostStoryGHOST STORY is one of the true horror classics that deserves to be seen. An adaption of Peter Straub’s novel of the same name, the film, thought pretty different than the very layered novel, is a horror classic. With its opening of a man coming across a ghostly corpse and falling to his death, the film sinks its hooks into you right away, so by the time we meet Don Wanderly (both brother are played by BODY DOUBLE/A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3‘s Craig Wasson) the man’s twin brother, we’re already invested in the film. Don is at a rough period in his life, and doesn’t believe that his brother committed suicide, but was murdered and with good reason. When Don returns to the small New England town in which his family was raised, he’s met with a lukewarm welcoming from his father Edward Charles Wanderley (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.), a man who belongs to “The Chowder Society”, a group of men who gather to tell horror stories. Making up the Chowder Society is Ricky Hawthorne (the legendary Fred Astaire); Sears James (John Houseman); Dr. John Jaffrey (Melvyn Douglas) and Wanderley. Don tells his father his suspicions but they’re met with a negative attitude from his father, causing Don to tell the group about Alma (SLEEPWALKERS star Alice Krige), a woman he dated who upon their breakup, got engaged to his later brother, David. When the group hears of the woman, they’re alarmed but play it off, and the film’s mystery begins.

We’re then given two timelines to follow, that of Don trying to solve the mystery in present day and the Chowder Society’s days when they were young men, all smitten over a young woman named Eva (also played by Krige). The back and forth layers of the film and its plot are equally interesting, telling a tale that never feels contrived, but wholly unique throughout the entire running time. It’s a ghost story mystery that we as viewers are entranced by, with its outstanding performances, a tone to the film that feels completely original, and the beauty of Alice Krige as Alma and Eva, two women who might not be two women at all, but one ghost. It’s the perfect kind of ghost story, and the perfect kind of horror film, opting for a great buildup as opposed to shocks just for novelty.

It’s great when films like GHOST STORY are given attention from imprints like Scream Factory, because it’s great to find films that you may or may not have had the chance to see over the years. It’s a very beautiful yet chilling tale, a film that needs to be experienced by every horror fan.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

Not just sticking to providing an excellent film, SF gives GHOST STORY fans a real treat, with new interviews featuring Straub, Krige, screenwriter Lawrence D. Cohen, producer Burt Weissbourd and Matte Photographer Bill Taylor. Each of them have great stories regarding the film and its making, approach and execution. The real highlight of these interviews though, is the interview with Krige, who goes into detail regarding just how special it was to have such legendary and iconic stars as Astaire, Douglas and everyone else involved. There’s a real reverence in the way Krige recounts the film, and it’s a good way to have even more respect and admiration towards the film and those individuals who were involved in writing the book, adapting the book into a film, and starring in the film. It’s all covered in these sets of interviews, and makes GHOST STORY a must own.

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