Classic Ghost Stories, Newly Mastered

GHOST STORIES  Various directors/BFI Certain experiences are ineluctably burned into childhood consciousnesses, and these generational scars are remembered for the rest of the lives of those undergoing such an experience. Shortly after the television terrors of the original British Quatermass series had made its mark on many a viewer, another truly terrifying television experience was talked about for decades after by those who had seen it – and found it a cauterising experience. This was, of course, one of the famous series of BBC films A Ghost Story for Christmas, of which there were 12 – and Jonathan Miller’s 1968 ‘Whistle and I’ll Come to You’ is undoubtedly one of the most famous ventures into the macabre ever shown on British television. With Michael Horden as a fussy academic who unleashes something supernatural and unspeakable, it raised the hair on many a neck in its original showing – and on the various occasions it has been repeated since. It is undoubtedly the centrepiece of the BFI’s exemplary collection of all 12 ghost stories to be collected here in multiple individual volumes and a box set. Interestingly, a comparison may now be made with the 2010 adaptation of the same story, this time starring John Hurt and directed by Andy de Emmony. Inevitably, highly professional though the latter is, it offers no real challenge to the celebrated original which still works remarkably well in the 21st-century – although Michael Horden’s excessively mannered performance has perhaps worn less well. Continue reading