Ghost Story (Blu-Ray) : Release Year - 1981

Overall Rating : 8/10

Directed By : John Irvin

Fred Astaire (Swing Time)
Melvyn Douglas (The Changeling)
Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
John Houseman

Supplied By : Shout! Factory/Scream! Factory

Film Reviewed By : Rick L. Blalock

Date Reviewed : December. 8, 2015


In a peaceful New England town, the four lifelong friends who make up the Chowder Society come together each week to regale each other with tales of terror. But when one of the elderly gentlemen experiences a family tragedy, it becomes apparent that a buried secret from their youth has arisen to remind them of the sins of their past. Soon, they will learn they have never been forgivenand a supernatural vengeance awaits them all.
GHOST STORY is a film which centers around 4 elderly gentlemen, who have been best friends since their childhood. Collectively, the men call themselves, "The Chowder Society". In a nutshell, the club is just a way for the men to celebrate their friendship it would seem, as they continue to meet with each other once a month, to tell ghost stories. Something that they all love A simple existence, right? Well, little do we know initially, that the men are harboring a 50 year old secret between one another. The secret however would soon reemerge, when a couple of similar, and seemingly related deaths occur. First, it was Edward's son, David, and next, Edward himself. Both deaths under mysterious circumstance. The death of his twin brother has brought Don back into town, yet the subsequent death of his father, urges him to stay around, and do some digging. And in the digging, he finds something - an old photo of the Chowder Society and a young woman. A woman, who strangely resembles Alma Mobley, a woman, he once had a love affair with, yet in a bizarre twist, someone who ended up marrying twin bother, David. Thinking that Alma may be the link to it all, he is quick to alert the guys in the society, who are quick to relate Don's story with that of a tragedy that befell the group 50 years prior. It seems as though a restless spirit has literally come back to haunt them as The Chowder find themselves in a real life situation, that closely resembles the ghost stories which they like to tell.

When it comes to the 1981 film GHOST STORY, it is another one of those films that I had always heard, about, always seen, such as when shopping online, etc., but had never actually seen it. But with that said, it is one that I was always curious about, So, now with this release from the folks at SCREAM! FACTORY, I can finally say that I have seen this film, in addition to saying that it actually is a pretty solid piece of entertainment.

Based on the 1979 supernatural novel of the same name, penned by Peter Staub, GHOST STORY the film, is a film that is based from several ideas from the book rather than a full on adaptation. I have not read the book, but from what is learned from the featurettes included on this disc, it is a story that features a plethora of ideas, much easier relayed in the form of a novel, but when translated to film, however, it was a bit too much. So, instead of making a 3 to 4 hour movie long enough to accommodate it all, they simply chose to draw only some elements from the book, to create a film that resembled a well rounded ghost tale. While it is to be understood why fans of the book may be put off by the movie, as it doesn't include all that one might expect, as a standalone, it is a film that is is quite entertaining.

GHOST STORY, although shot in the 80s, has a very classic look and feel to it, so it's kind of only fitting that it is a UNIVERSAL film. And further adding to it, is that it features 4 prominent, well known Hollywood actors of their time - three of whom, here starred in their final theatrical role. Fred Astaire, Melvyn Douglas, Douglas Fairbanks Jr, and John Houseman, are all nice additions here. It's a lot of fun seeing them in a classic themed haunt film, one that could also be compared to the similar CANNON film, HOUSE OF THE LONG SHADOWS, which starred; Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, and John Carradine. Told in part, in the present, as well as with flashbacks, Astaire, Douglas, Fairbanks, and Houseman, of course, represent the present Chowder Society while, a group of younger actors represent them in their youth. The past eventually parallels into the present, combining to create a well formed story. I felt that the film had very nice buildup, as it is one that isn't so revealing from the beginning. Initially, we sense that something is troubling the men of the Chowder Society, however, we are not sure what. But as more, and more is revealed, the film does a fine job of emphasizing just how the secret that the men share, effects each of them individually. With this, the characters become more interesting as the story moves along, as does the story itself. Something that I have seen people say online about the film is that GHOST STORY is a film with plot holes and what have you, but to be honest, I was enjoying the film too much to note such, missteps, if in fact there are any.

Yes, the film isn't perfect, nor is the acting, especially from the film's 4 leads. However, to be fair, the guys were at the time, in their 70s and 80s, so of course they aren't always perfect in their performances, but their spirit, more than makes up for it. It's great to see them here. Both Craig Wasson() and Alice Krige are also great, as they both take on dual roles, which is something unique in itself.

The film is a fun, high-spirited take on the classic ghost story. I loved many aspects of the film, especially that the film centers around a group of old friends, a "society", that relishes in a good Horror tale. This, along with a nice progressive pace, makes for really fun entertainment. I really liked it.

The Blu-Ray from SCREAM FACTORY features several featurettes. Some details are as follows.

"GHOST STORY Genesis" (39m 42s) : This featurettes features Novelist Peter Staub, as he describes how his novel "Ghost Story" came about. Includes the reading of passages from the book.

"GHOST STORY Development" (29m 9s) Another featurettes with Staub,where he explains the origin of his story. It also features Screenwriter Lawrence D. Cohen, Producer Burt Weissbourd, as they explain how they approached the material for the film.

"Alice Krige : Being Alice and Alma" (28m 52s) Actress Alice Krige, talks about how she came to be cast in GHOST STORY, what it was like to work with so many screen legends in one of her earlier roles, the portrayl of 2 roles in the film, and of course the nudity.

"Albert Whitlock Visual Effects with Bill Taylor" (28m 51s) The film's Matte Photographer, Bill Taylor explains both his approach to the film, as well as the process used in the style of the film.
6.5/10 Various scenes of morbid imagery created by effects legend Dick Smith. Not really gory per se, yet visually great. My rating is for the effects.
6/10 GHOST STORY features a nice orchestral score that is both at times classically suspenseful and atmospheric.
As I said above, I really enjoyed GHOST STORY, despite only having heard of it beforehand. It is the type of film that seems to get better as it goes along, as it takes some time to fully reveal itself. I felt that both the characters and atmosphere were both pretty fun. Again, it was entertaining to see the likes of Fred Astaire in a film like this one. It's definitely unique in that sense. I recommend.

Special Features include :

- NEW Audio Commentary By Director John Irvin
- NEW Interviews With Author Peter Straub, Actress Alice Krige, Screenwriter Lawrence D. Cohen, Producer Burt Weissbourd And Matte Photographer Bill Taylor
- Vintage Theatrical Trailer, TV And Radio Spots
- Photo Gallery


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