This early ‘80s horror film from British director John Irvin (Hamburger Hill) seems an unlikely cult favorite given its cast of elderly male leads, but it’s a cast of big-name veterans that, although in the waning years of their careers, manage to elevate an average story to one that almost seems like a Hitchcockian thriller.
Fred Astaire, Melvyn Douglas, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., and John Houseman star as a group of elderly friends in a quiet New England town. Calling themselves the “Chowder Society,” the group like to meet once a week and tell each other ghost stories over drinks that get each other all worked up. But when one of them loses a family member to a mysterious death, it becomes increasingly obvious that a bad deed from their past has not been buried as they all had thought. Now a malevolent spirit is seeking them all out in a real ghost story come to life. Craig Wasson, Patricia Neal, and Alice Krige also star in this chiller for the older generations.
Irvin does a great job with what is really a mediocre screenplay of the Peter Straub novel into something pleasurable to watch. Granted, a big part of the heavy lifting is done by the incredible acting of the fantastic assemblage of veterans in the twilight of their careers here. Astaire, Douglas, Fairbanks, and Houseman turn this run of the mill material into something to be reckoned with, and their time on screen is the best part of the film. Alice Krige is also an incredibly wicked (and beautiful) antagonist and love interest. Combine all of these elements with what is a classic English style Gothic horror that goes back to the old Hammer style of the luxurious old mansions, atmospherics, and just a tinge of camp, and we have a respectable if not flawless horror/thriller in Ghost Story.
Ghost Story is provided in an AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encodement on Blu-ray from Scream! Factory. The 1981 vintage film source doesn’t look pristine, but for a film closing in on 35-years of age, it could be a lot worse. There is some film softness and depth of field suffers somewhat. There are some hints of haloing around edges, but apart from these things, dirt and debris are rather limited, flesh tones look good, and the grain is natural.
The original monaural soundtrack for Ghost Story is provided in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (48kHz/24-bit) and it is good for what it is, provided clear dialogue and little noise or hiss.
- Ghost Story Genesis (1.78;1; 1080p/24; 00:39:42)
- Ghost Story Development (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:29:09)
- Alice Krige: Being Alma and Eva (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:28:52)
- Albert Whitlock Visual Effects with Bill Taylor (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:28:51)
- Theatrical Trailer (1.33:1; SD; 00:02:26)
- TV Spot (1.33:1; SD: 00:00:31)
- Radio Spots (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:01:00)
- Photo Gallery (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:08:43)
The Definitive Word
An atmospheric throwback to old school horror set in a moody New England, the cast of veterans in Ghost Story outplay their younger counterparts and work the average material into something more worthy of their talents.
Additional Screen Captures