Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Stephen Weeks' Ghost Story

I’m pleased to announce that next month, on 26 October, Nucleus Films (UK) will issue Stephen Weeks’ 1974 chiller Ghost Story as a special edition double DVD set. Three years ago next month, Stephen visited Becky and me here in Kearney for several days and I managed to get him to sit down and watch Ghost Story with me and do an audio commentary, on the assumption that someday someone might want to use it. Happily, earlier this year, Marc Morris, head honcho at UK’s Nucleus Films, emailed me asking for Stephen’s contact information, and I used the opportunity to mention to him that I had Stephen’s commentary on Ghost Story as well and that he was welcome to use it. I’m pleased to say that he decided to use that commentary on the forthcoming DVD set. Stephen did a splendid job, and my task was an easy one, as I simply had to provide him with a prompt now and then. Here is the text of the official announcement released yesterday from Nucleus Films:

Revered, misunderstood and oft-discussed, Stephen Weeks’ rarely seen 1974 dreamlike chiller is the very definition of a cult British Horror film. Set in 1930s England, it tells of three former public schoolmates, Larry Dann (The Bill), Murray Melvin (The Devils) and the enigmatic Vivian Mackerrell (the inspiration for Bruce Robinson’s creation Withnail, of Withnail and I, seen here in his only major screen role), who reunite in a country mansion haunted by the spirit of insane former resident Marianne Faithfull. The haunting transports them to a surreal world of demonic dolls, sadistic doctors, incest and murder. Hammer fans will see Barbara Shelley (Dracula Prince of Darkness) and Leigh Lawson (Hammer House of Horror), among the cast, cult TV enthusiasts will recognize Anthony Bate (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy; Beasts), and sitcom lovers will enjoy a cameo from Penelope Keith (The Good Life; To The Manor Born).

This combination of 1970s Britsploitation and 1930s quaintness, realized perfectly by Weeks and soundtracked by Pink Floyd collaborator Ron Geesin, have made Ghost Story legendary. Now, for the first time on DVD, Nucleus Films proudly presents this pristine 2-disc collectors edition including “Ghost Stories,” an in-depth featurette about the curious tale about the making of the film, an audio commentary, a trailer and a selection of Weeks’ fascinating early shorts and commercials including the rarely seen Tigon film 1917. This latter film, set in the trenches of World War I, led to Stephen being offered the chance to direct his first feature film at the age of twenty-one, I, Monster, starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.

2 DISC COLLECTOR’S EDITION – with booklet and essay by Darius Drew Shimmon

DVD Extras include:

  • Ghost Stories – an all-new 60-minute featurette including interviews with Director/Producer Stephen Weeks, Actors Larry Dann and Murray Melvin, British Horror Icon Barbara Shelley, composer (and Pink Floyd collaborator) Ron Geesin, with comments from UK critic Kim Newman
  • Audio Commentary with Stephen Weeks, moderated by Sam Umland
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • The Chelsea Cobbler store commercial
  • Alternate opening credits sequence
  • Stephen Weeks' The Making of Ghost Story (.pdf)
  • 7 early previously unseen short Stephen Weeks films:
  • Owen’s War (1965 / b&w / 10m)
  • Deserted Station (1965 / b&w / 7m)
  • The Camp (1965 / b&w / 4m)
  • Moods of a Victorian Church (1967 / Color / 9m)
  • Two At Thursday (1968 / b&w / 10m)
  • 1917 (Tigon, 1968 / Color / 35m)
  • Flesh (1969 / Color / 3m)
Additional information can be found at Nucleus Films’ website.

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