Ghost Story

Dir: John Irvin, 1981


Harking back to the days of old school horror, Irvin’s film attempts to recreate the scares found in such, earlier, fair.

Relying on atmosphere and suspense, Ghost Story does away with explicit Gore but, being the eighties, leans heavily on nudity.

Based on the book by Peter Straub, the film tells the story of four elderly gentlemen who meet regularly to tell each other ghost stories.

But, many years before, the men were involved in an accidental murder of a woman and covered it up.

The ghost of the woman comes back to haunt and kill the culprits one by one.

Starting veteran silver screen actors, Fred Astaire, Melvyn Douglas, John Houseman and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. in their last film, Ghost Story is a disappointing end to long and celebrated careers.

There is a germ of a scary horror, but Irvin’s direction sterilises it. It’s too long winded and drawn out.

Credit where it’s due, the physical effects are pretty good. Faces melting and rotting away are all noteworthy. The other effects, on the other hand, are abysmal. Craig Wasson falling stark bollock naked out of a building is one such example.

You kind of get the feeling, that Irvin isn’t entirely sure what to do with the film. To make up for the lack of directorial ability, Irvin has the actress, Alice Krige, spend ninety percent of the film topless.

What really lets the film down, is the muddled editing. Parts of the film is rendered incoherent and, coupled with Irvin’s less than remarkable direction, just causes a perplexing movie that is neither interesting or clever.

It’s a shame that Irvin dropped the ball on this one, as there are photographs of deleted scenes that look, genuinely, chilling supporting the theory that he is a competent director. Unfortunately, just not here.

Ghost Story meanders along at a snail’s pace, with very little to keep your attention.

A missed opportunity and a sad swansong for four of the most loved actors of the twentieth century.


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