Tag Archives: Ghost

#138 – In Lamplight or Candleflame

(1977, GB, 69 min) Dir Eric Conway Bryce. Cast Thomas Pretton, Billie Whitelaw.

In Lamplight or Candleflame was supposed to kickstart a series of annual films that would rival the BBC’s A Ghost Story for Christmas but despite being perhaps Conway Bryce’s best film (and definitely his last) hardly a soul watched it upon broadcast and those who did found it, in the words of the Times’ reviewer, “turgid and murky”. Despite not being held as fondly in the public consciousness as A Warning to the Curious or even Schalcken the Painter a lavish reissue was mooted in recent years until it was discovered that the only remaining copy had somehow been spirited from the vaults. Despite this there are those, like I, who had the exceptionally good fortune to have seen it on first broadcast who will attest, in defiance of the opinion of the time, to how terrifying a watch it really was, despite the fact that, like those who I have discussed the film with, I can’t recall exactly what it was that I saw in the film’s flickering candlelight that frightened me so. Pretton plays a reclusive lord rattling around his vast country estate with only the imagined voice of his mother (Whitelaw in voiceover) for company though the speed with which she alternates between love and anger makes her uneasy company at best. As time wears on in his dark midwinter house he begins to perceive that perhaps there may be a figure out in the fluttering darkness beyond his meagre illuminations and while she’s not telling he begins to suspect that figure may be that of his long dead mother…

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Twitter: @MadeUpFilms

#111 – Christmas Ghost, The

(1995, US, 92 min) Dir Andy Farmer. Cast Christopher Lloyd, Lizzie Phillips, Dan Aykroyd, Eric Idle.

Big budget screen version of the 1960’s short lived animated TV show with Christopher Lloyd as the voice of the Christmas Ghost. It’s December the 24th and young Patty and her father (Phillips and Aykroyd) are moving into their new house, Gotspold Manor. On the first night the Christmas Ghost appears, initially frightening Patty but she gets to know him and vows to solve the mystery of his death before he disappears for another year on Boxing Day. There are the obligatory moments of wacky slapstick but for the most part the tone, bizarrely, is one of melancholy. It seems that mediocre director for hire Farmer was experiencing some personal difficulties at the time of the making of this film which seems to have permeated the entirety of the film from the script to the performances to the music, which is a kind of treacly minor key dirge. Fans of the original show (of which it seems there are a surprising amount) were so vocal in their displeasure at the film that Farmer put an apology in the Hollywood Reporter. Besides all of that the film, seemingly by virtue of it’s title alone, can be seen filling up an hour and a half in the schedules on some channel each Christmas. A mo-cap update is in the pipe for next Christmas with Johnny Depp playing everyone so I guess we have that to look forward to.

www.imaginaryfilmguide.com

Twitter: @MadeUpFilms

#69 – Boo Dat!

(2008, US, 100 mins) Dir Keenen Ivory Wayans. Cast Tracy Morgan, Marlon Wayans, Kerry Washington, Vivica A Fox, Eugene Levy.

From the director of White Chicks and Little Guy and if that pedigree doesn’t scare the pants off you then settle down and prepare to be terrified by… No, wait – apparently this is a comedy! Who knew? Morgan and Wayans are typical bros sharing a flat in LA when a gas leak kills them in their sleep. The next morning they wake up to find firemen in the apartment who can’t see them and when they try to leave they find that they can’t. Fortunately an afterlife official (Levy) is at hand to ease them through their “post-life transition phase”, informing them that because of their unquiet death they are now doomed to haunt their former abode. Neither takes it well, both wishing that they could get on to the afterlife where the life is easy. Their initial funk wears off when their shady landlord rents out their apartment to attractive young lady friends Washington and Fox and hilarity ensues, with poltergeist gropings and flying ectoplasm jokes the order of the day. Oh, and a cruelly extended bout of obvious Exorcist riffing. Lots of fun for those with a high offense threshold and low comedy standards.

www.imaginaryfilmguide.com

Twitter: @MadeUpFilms