A story about ghosts. Some ghost stories feature gruesome bloody ghosts, ghosts that seek revenge, ghosts that want to do the right thing. Some are Ladies in White, some are Headless Horsemen, some look like normal people, some are invisible, some are translucent shades. Sometimes, ghost stories are admitted works of fiction, and sometimes, it is claimed that they are true stories.


Ghost Story.

1994. A cold December in Scotland, and I'm at my parents for food, heat and love.

5pm; I'd fallen asleep upstairs in the attic, in my old bed, and awoke to my mother, calling me down for dinner.
It takes me a minute or two to come to, put my trousers on, and wander downstairs, through the house I grew up in. I know every step of the way, so no need to put on any lights.
Down 3 flights to the darkened hall ground floor- turn slightly to the right, see Dad leaving the living room- I hear his footsteps behind me as I turn to the right and push open the kitchen door...
confusion, as Dad is sitting there, eating dinner.

I turn to look behind me- the footsteps stop.

Shaking my head, I sit down for dinner, and tell them what I think I've seen.

Mum just laughs- "I've been seeing that man in this house for years", she says. "He's never bothered me, so I've never bothered him."
But I'm bothered- a ghost in the house I never knew about? That shakes things to their core.

A month or so later, and I'm back there again, for an overnight stay this time. But I'm ill at ease, can't relax. It shows when I go to bed later, and I dream:

The four of us- Mum, Dad, brother and me- are sat around a bare table, in a room devoid of detail, except for a lone, bare bulb hanging down. We're talking, discussing him, and what we all want to do about him. One by one, we offer our opinions- I'm last to speak, and I'm aghast that no-one seems troubled by his presence- except for me. "There's only one thing to do if you have a ghost", I say. "You must have it exorcised".
The light bulb, hanging on bare wire, suddenly begins to glow more brightly, and continues to brighten until the glare makes us shield our eyes.

at that moment...


There's a crash of something heavy landing on my bed, and I'm suddenly wide awake, staring at the snapped-on ceiling light. And the crash on the bed- it's my brother, 20 years of age, almost in tears as he desperately tries to get in bed beside me. Between the adrenalin surging through me, and his stifled sobs, he manages to tell me what happened. He fell asleep downstairs, watching (of all things) Spinal Tap on the T.V.. Woke up in the dark to find something unseen dragging him along the floor by his ankles. Somehow fought it off; made it up three flights of stairs in the dark to find another human being and safety.

"But the weirdest thing of all" he says, calmer now, "is the dream I was having just before I woke. We were all of us sat round this table, and there was this bare bulb hanging down..."

And yes, before you ask, it really happened...

Horror movie released in 1981. Directed by John Irvin, the movie starred Fred Astaire, Melvyn Douglas, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., John Houseman, Craig Wasson, and Alice Krige.

The movie is based on a book by Peter Straub and tells the tale of four old men who live in a New England town. The four calling themselves the Chowder Society shared a gruesome secret for many years which comes back to haunt both them and their sons. For those who have read Straub's story, the movie does take liberties with the original work, not including the manatou aspect that he includes, but is still a fine adaptation of the original novel.

The four lead actors are all veterans of film and the movie is a joy to see just for their presence in the film. Ghost Story ended up being the last film for Fred Astaire who passed away soon after it was shot. Craig Wasson does a fine job in the dual roles of Don and David Wanderly, twin sons of Fairbanks' character. This was the first film in which I saw Alice Krige and after her other roles in Sleepwalkers (based on a Stephen King short story) and as the Borg Queen in Star Trek VIII: First Contact, my original impression of Krige still holds: this woman is one freaky individual.

One of the best aspects of the story is how inescapable the plight of the characters is. In many stories, escape is available by either getting out of the house or running away from the killer. In Ghost Story, half of the tension comes from the fact that there is no place to run from what stalks the heroes.

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