Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Ghost Stories by MR James

Those of you that have been reading my blog know my love of horror films and books.  Recently, I went on a quest to find some really good ghost stories.  During my search, I came across three short stories by MR James, an English Archaeologist and a great storyteller in his time and even now.  I like MR James because he writes supernatural books that are realistic and coherent, while most are just a bunch of gibberish and foolishness.

Anyway, back to it.  These three stories that I found were apart of "A Ghost Story for Christmas,"  TV series in England in which ghost stories are shown on TV during the Christmas holiday season.  I really admire that the British seem to make a tradition out of doing this, and I've always thought that ghost stories are appropriate for Christmas.  They are comforting, yet scary, and warm.  Imagine, sitting near the fireplace drinking tea or cocoa with family and friends, and  watching a ghost story that scares you, but remembering that you have those people close by to lean on and help you through the fear - that really brings you all closer, which is what Christmas season is all about - closeness.  Scary stories work in favor of this. 

The three stories from the series that I really liked are listed below.  Please check these out if you are looking for a great ghost story.  Two of these - "A View from a Hill" and "Whistle and I'll come to you" can be streamed on Amazon Prime Video for free. The other one, "The Tractate Middoth" can be watched on Youtube.

A View From A Hill 

How different Fanshawe's holiday might have been had his trusty binoculars not broken. The Squire's archaic pair prove strangely bewitching, but is everything they see to be believed? And why does their very mention fill the elderly butler with dread? He looks like he's seen a ghost, or worse. Perhaps Fanshawe should have consulted the old man before venturing up Gallows Hill. Some stones are better left unturned, and questions of the dead should remain the secrets of the past, because sometimes the dead answer back.   -Review from IMDB

For this next film, there have been two adaptations of it - one in 1968 and one in 2010. The 1968 adaptation is entirely like the story written by MR James, but the 2010 version takes a total spin on it.  For me, both films were great to watch, as the acting was good (I am a fan of John Hurt (2010 version) ever since "Merlin") and the stories both were frightening.  However, I would have to say that the 1968, the true account of what MR James wrote, is by far my favorite.

Whistle and I'll Come to You, 1968


A university professor, confident that everything which occurs in life has a rational explanation, finds his beliefs severely challenged when, during a vacation to a remote coastal village in Norfolk, he blows through an ancient whistle discovered on a beach, awakening horrors beyond human understanding. -Review from IMDB

Whistle and I will Come to You, 2010


After placing his ailing wife Alice in a care home, elderly academic James Parkin goes to stay at a wintry out-of-season hotel which they used to visit together. Walking on a deserted beach he finds a ring with a Latin inscription,which translates as Who Is This Who Is Coming. He takes the ring back to the hotel but at night he hears loud banging on his door,even though he is the sole guest,as well as seeing a white-clad apparition on the beach.He is seemingly the victim of ghostly revenge - but who is the avenger?  -Review from IMDB

Finally, we arrive at the last of my favorite of the series.  I can say that BBC did a great job with this one.  It was more like a movie than a short story.  I really enjoyed this mystery behind this one.  It kind of reminded me of the Twilight Zone a bit!  :) The ending is very creepy.

The Tractate Middoth

On his deathbed vicar Rant makes a secret confession to his niece Mary Simpson about the location of his Will. Some twenty years later young librarian William Garrett is asked by elderly John Eldred to locate a book called 'The Tractate Middoth' but a mysterious cloaked figure takes the book from the shelves as the librarian goes to fetch it.  Who is this ghastly figure in the cloak?  And, what does it want with the Tractate Middoth?

No comments: