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  • Warning: Spoilers
    The cast alone makes this film worth viewing at least once. It is always pleasing to see distinguished veteran prayers get together for an effort such as this one. In this sense it reminds me of 1982's House of the Long Shadows. Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Melvyn Douglas, John Houseman and Fred Astaire are the aforementioned players and Craig Wasson, Alice Krige and Patricia Neal are among others in a first rate cast. Taken from a novel by Peter Straub, Ghost Story suffers the fate that many ghost stories put to film do in that it has lost much of the mood and nuance of the written word. Still, Ghost Story is a fine film and very enjoyable if you remember that it is not a masterpiece and do not expect more than it can deliver. Four elderly gentleman, the entire membership of the Chowder Society, get together periodically to share ghost stories. It is indicated early on that these gents have been doing this for a long time and quickly we learn there is a sinister reason why. We do not learn until well into the film what that reason is, and the leading up to it is the meat of the story. Set against a wonderfully atmospheric New England backdrop, it is revealed too late for the distinguished membership of the Chowder Society the four had accidentally murdered a young girl they were all smitten with 50 years earlier. The girl, brilliantly played by the enigmatic Alice Krige, has come back in the form of a ghost to exact terrible revenge. Ghost Story ends with several of the Chowder Society members dead and the secret of her death revealed.

    It is a pity that this film cannot be viewed as Straub wrote the story, but that is the chance one takes when producing a ghost film, the main reason why there are precious few truly good ones. Ms. Krige, more than any woman I have ever seen on screen or indeed, known personally, combines an earthiness and elegance in her being that is fascinating. It is she that establishes the mood of this film and that is saying a lot, considering who she was cast against. Ghost Story is almost biblical in it's vengeance to the second generation, Craig Wasson as the son of one of the society members. It is interesting to note the presence of Melvyn Douglas, who starred in horror films such as The Old Dark House and The Vampire Bat in the early 1930's and in 1979's The Changeling in addition to Ghost Story. What a way to bookend a rich career! We didn't get to see enough of Doug Fairbanks, as his character died early, and John Houseman added his usual solid performance. Fred Astaire had the most screen time and his character added much needed touches of light comic relief. Patricia Neal as his wife had little screen time. It was Ms. Krige who carried the film and if you are not familiar with her or her body of work, you should be. She is unique and vastly underrated.

    Catch this one on video late on a cold, snowy night, best with a tumbler of brandy in hand. Expect an interesting if not great film and savor the screen presence of the performers. When a group such as this comes together for any kind of film, it is worth viewing at least once. Ms. Krige makes many of the scenes truly frightening, but mainly Ghost Story is to be appreciated for what is, a tribute and last hurrah for several screen legends.
  • I read Peter Straub's book and was quite pleased with the result of the movie. First of all, like many, I loved the cast. They are all great men of the world cinema and the pull off the story with great aplomb. The movie is about something someone does in his or her youth and then must live with forever. In a good ghost story, the characters get no points for being once youthful and reckless. The fact that they meet and share their stories means that they never seem to intend closure. They never allow themselves to face the music and, hence, the revenge of the spirit is acceptable in the world where they find themselves. I just thought that a society devoted to the telling of ghost stories was a great idea. Anyway, while the plot does wander around a bit and it takes time to get to the point, it still works great. It was nice to see that Fred Astaire could still act (because he was such a great dancer we forget that he had a great comic talent and, in this case, a dramatic talent). The others are equally formidable. There are also some pretty slimy, putrid visions that appear and make for a pretty good rank on the jump scale. The actually scene that explains everything (I won't spoil it) is both sad and revealing. While not the greatest movie, it works very well and I would recommend it.
  • I will take you places you've never been. I will show you things that you have never seen and I will see the life run out of you. ~ Eva, in the film Ghost Story

    The movie centers on a group of elderly men who have formed an exclusive story-telling group called The Chowder Society. The men meet regularly, sit around a fire in a dark room and share their best ghost stories. Under the surface, however, lies a ghastly secret they all share - a real life, true ghost story of their own that they dare not speak of.

    When one of The Chowder Society member's twin sons dies in a very strange and inexplicable accident, the other twin returns home to mourn with his father. That is when a series of horrifying events begin to unfold, forcing the men of the Chowder Society to come to terms with the shocking and dreadful event that has haunted them for the past 50 years.

    I personally love these types of stories. They do not feature masked- maniacs hunting down unsuspecting teenagers and hacking them to death. (Although there are a few good ones in that category!) What this story does provide is a genuine chill-running-down-your-spine sensation that brings you to a terrifying place without ever forcing you to close your eyes.

    A star-studded cast includes Fred Astaire, Melvyn Douglas, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., John Houseman and Patricia Neal, Jacqueline Brookes, Craig Wasson and Alice Krige. Having a cast with such experienced and talented actors creates a believable and authentic film making it a worthwhile, scary little gem of a movie.

    If you like genuine ghost stories, watch this movie. Based on the novel by the gifted Peter Straub and skillfully directed by John Irvin, this film is a top pick for me.
  • I watched this film with a friend who described it as `one of the scariest movies he had ever seen.' I will agree with this assessment because the thrills are not cheap ones – they are genuine scares. Ghost Story stars Fred Astaire, John Houseman, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Melvyn Douglas as members of the `Chowder Society' a group that gathers around the fireplace to drink brandy and tell ghost stories. The problem lies in the fact that they also share a long-kept secret that is now coming back to haunt them.

    While it was novel to see these great actors in action, particularly in a genre where they are not normally known, this film is great because it does not rely on gore or special effects to scare the pants off the viewer. The horrors come from lower scale thrill, like a spooky house, an eerie soundtrack and quick flashes of horrific images that are sudden and impactful enough to make your heart leap into your throat.

    This is a small, fun movie that isn't without its faults; (you can see the `secret' coming from a mile away) but the buildup to the unveiling of this secret is pure fun.

    --Shelly
  • Watched this one in the theater when I was a kid, still enjoy it to this day as one my all time favorite movies. Yes, it does have holes in it and sparks some questions as to why the one seeking revenge is doing what they're doing. There are solid performances from ALL the cast members, especially from Craig Wasson and Alice Krieg If you've ever read the book by Peter Struab, you'll know why there's holes in the movie as the book is very much like a 'Stephen King' book, in that it is so rich with information and atmosphere that the film producers and John Irvin just could not get all of it into a 2 hour film. I actually a couple of years ago that they might be re'making this one, but as a Mini-Series on TV

    I give it 8 out of 10 stars

    Enjoy
  • I just finished viewing this film, sadly a faded print, little treasure for the fifth time, since its release in 1981. Its worth your time and attention. The cinema-photography is excellent. The film's musical score is excellent. Performances are often brilliant, as only seasoned actors can be. It must have been fun to work on this project. The new actors are equally great, especially Alice who plays Alma, the starring role.The young man who is the male lead, went on to become famous, as you will see in the famous faces of the other young men as well. What a great break for them all, to work with such seasoned legends. Alice is a rare flower, English actor who is now a major star.

    This film was a work of love and you can feel it. The camera angles make the film spooky and scary. Even after five times, I was still surprised and jumped again. Bravo. Worth buying this film as a classic for your collections. "The Haunting of Hill House" comes to mind here.

    The music is first rate and added so much to the plot and its eerie story. With the camera work, clever original shots, the story takes on a great level of artistry. BRAVO on the little jewel. SARGE IN Colorado
  • I initially wanted to rate "Ghost Story" a fine 7/10, but I figured since I (voluntarily) had to endure watching such heavy rubbish earlier this week, I'd just chip in an extra point. I feel no shame about this, as the film is actually very good. At the start of the '80s, the horror landscape was changing. Films got a lot crazier, partly due to many great sfx artists rising to the scene and otherwise because of the mindset of that era (fashion, trends, etc). Often filmmakers cared less about telling a coherent story and more about making their films go over-the-top in any way they'd see fit. So in a way "Ghost Story" really feels like if it was one of the last 'classic' horror movies at the time. From the orchestrated soundtrack over the slow pace of the film, relying more on mood, tension and atmosphere to the splendid performances of our veteran foursome Fred Astaire, Melvin Douglas, John Houseman and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. The film is ingeniously structured, with various stories within the main story, nightmarish dream sequences and a great flashback story to the 1930's era. The settings provide some classic horror elements too, like the isolated snowy town, grisly frozen lakes and an old ramshackle haunted mansion. Sporadically, the film is also injected with some amusing scares provided by ghostly rotting appearances and the special visual effects by master matte artist Albert Whitlock are outstanding. Gorgeous actress Alice Krige has that icy cold mysteriousness over her that is fitting for her role. On top of that, she has more scenes with her clothes off then on. There are a couple subplots that could have been altered to make it an even better movie, but these are only minor problems. If you want a decent scary movie double bill with a classy feel to it for a dark & stormy night, I think teaming up John Irvin's "Ghost Story" (1981) with Peter Medak's "The Changeling" (1980) might work wonders.
  • A condensing of Peter Straubs' more complex, more intriguing novel, the film adaptation is no great shakes but it's certainly not bad at all either. It does have the appeal of a spooky yarn one might spin by a fireplace in the dead of winter. The simplified story deals with four elderly New England gentlemen who get together and tell horror stories, but who in fact share a tragedy from their long-ago past. Now a revenge-minded spirit is out to make their lives miserable - and strike out at the two sons of one of them, to boot. The film does speak of quality - Jack Cardiff did the cinematography, Albert Whitlock and his team supply some beautiful matte shots, Philippe Sarde composed the stirring music score, and Dick Smith creates the plentiful hideous apparition effects - but the powerful main attraction is the assemblage of talent in the four main roles - Fred Astaire, Melvyn Douglas, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., and John Houseman - who are a delight, although Fairbanks exits the story much too soon. Craig Wasson plays the twin sons, and is likable as usual and manages to hold his own opposite his legendary co-stars. Patricia Neal is utterly wasted as Astaires' wife, but making up for that is the showcase given to the beautiful South African actress Alice Krige, who's extremely alluring and enigmatic as the mystery woman to whom both sons become attracted. There's a real sexual charge in her scenes with Wasson. This is one element that may concern some viewers, when they think about Astaire, Douglas, Fairbanks, and Houseman acting in a film that has violence and nudity (male as well as female), but for other horror fans a sufficient amount of atmosphere is built up and there are definitely some memorable scenes. Things are sometimes told in a flashback style, as first Wasson tells of his association with the not-so-subtly creepy Krige, or Astaire and Houseman finally break down and tell Wasson their whole sordid story. Overall, it's just compelling enough to work, and it does have some mighty fine moments, especially an iconic one involving a lake and a sinking car. It manages to be pretty eerie on a fairly consistent basis if never very scary. It marked the final feature film appearance for Astaire, Fairbanks, and Douglas. Seven out of 10.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The movie shows signs of severe post-production editing (probably when the studio discovered that the film was something of a mess). There are actors listed in the credits who never appear in the film (the whole poltergeist incident featuring the Dedham sisters - gone! Ricky's parents - gone!). Watch out for the re-use of Astaire's early line to Houseman, "We have to help the boy" in the very late dredging the pond scene (it makes no sense there, but what the hell, they never explain why Astaire suddenly realizes that exposing Eva's body to the light of day will rout her anyway). I just bought the thing on DVD (it was marked down to $9.99!), so I have to admit I love it on some level. Craig Wasson's performance seems to have been sabotaged by editing that places his reactions a beat off every time - either that, or the editors saw no reason to tighten his scenes - in either case, it's an odd portrayal, not helped by a screenplay that makes him the most passive horror hero you ever saw. Aside from the shock cuts to Dick Smith's masterly variations on a corpse theme and Krige's bathtub scream, the movie is eerie rather than scary (see Krige's ghostly wedding dress promenade at the climax). The Gregory and Fenny Bate subplot (Straub's take on THE TURN OF THE SCREW on the novel) should have been handled (or cast) better, or eliminated entirely. In fact, at times the casting seems to be as amateurish as an Ed Wood classic - Gregory, the embarrassed waiter in the restaurant scene, the oddly accented secretary at the school (listen as she turns "Mr. Wanderley" into something like "Wanderlah")- they all seem to be relatives (or dates!) of the production team.

    In response to the earlier post concerning Wasson's nude blue-screen jiggling, there was indeed a photo published in CINEFANTASTIQUE documenting his discomfort - and that must be a stuntman who does the naked flop onto the poolside tiles - someone send that man a "Buns of Steel" tape immediately! Phillipe Sarde's over the top but evocative score has, by the way, been turning up on various American soap operas and Spanish telenovelas for years.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is one of my favorite scary movies along with George C. Scott's "The Changling", both rely on atmosphere and story to scare you instead of blood and gore, cheap tricks and special effects that are the norm these days.

    Granted, Peter Straub's novel was superior to the movie but how often do you see a good book translate well onto the screen? They did a passable job here and the movie stands on its own as an entertaining and chill inducing work. In fact, this movie contains two scenes that I've never forgotten since I saw it in the theatre and that still scare me whenever I see them; the hem of Alice Krige's wedding dress slowly swishing down the hallway toward her next victim, and her turning to look at Fred Astaire as he opens the door to the car after it's pulled from the lake, turning to look at him from the back seat where she's sat, dead, festering, brooding, plotting, and haunting, for the past 50 years.

    It also keeps some of the great lines from the book; "I will show you things you have never seen..." and "Dance with me you little toad".

    It has some faults and if you're a huge fan of the novel you may want to just pass on it, but it's still one of the best scary movies I've ever seen. If you like a good ghost story I highly recommend it, watch it on a dark winters night while the wind howls around the eaves of your house.
  • Four elderly men members of The Chowder Society fall victim to a vengeful ghost (Alice Krige) who seems to be connected to something they did decades ago and who once dated one of the member's son (Craig Wasson) from beyond the grave. Old fashioned, entertaining film features possibly the best cast ever gathered to star in a horror film. The film itself has a very atmospheric feel to it and generates some suspense, but never really scares the auidence.

    Rated R; Nudity, Sexual Situations, Violence, and Profanity.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Let's put aside for another review the broader issue of how successful Hollywood has been adapting Straub's work, generally. Because in case of this work, specifically, they pretty much knocked it out of the park. This film is genuinely creepy and this reviewer can list on the fingers of one hand (maybe two) the number of times a so-called "horror" film had got under my skin (the original Exorcist, the original Living Dead, the original Hill House, come to mind). This film made that list. Next is the casting. I am going to give credit to John Irvin for (presumably) saying, this is a film about a bunch of old guys but I don't want to get just any old guys, let's get the best-known bunch of old guys money can buy... Wow -- Fred Astair, Douglas Fairbanks, I mean, does it get any better than this? Finally, this is the film that introduced the mass audiences to Alice Krige, a very capable actress whose work has been keeping us glued to our seats for decades since (Borg Queen, anyone?). The IMDb rating, as always, is much too low. A true classic, bringing together many unusual features in one production.
  • buckikris21 January 2012
    Warning: Spoilers
    Hello everyone, I don't remember seeing this movie ever coming out at the theaters, but I was only 9 years old at the time. The first time I saw this movie was on TV and after I watched it I had to buy it. I thought it was a great horror story without all the gore. It had a great cast with a few of the classic actor's as the Chowder Society. I don't know what it is about revenge movie's but some make great movies that are hard to stay away from.

    This is not you typical horror flick, in fact it has a plot. I liked the fact how the story was told, it takes place somewhere in the northeast, with beautiful Winter scenery. The Chowder Society, getting together in their 70's and telling spooky stories. They never discuss don't discuss what happened in the thirties until, Don finds them. After the death of his brother and father from the hand's of this woman, he know's is not who she appears to be.

    Don finds the rest of the Chowder Society were his father was once a member and tells them he thinks this is a ghost story and the woman is back for revenge. He explains what has happened when he met her and the story begins to unfold, with more of the Chowder Society meeting their fates with Alma Moberley, the woman back for her revenge.

    The truth eventually comes out, with the story going back to the times where the Chodwer Society was in their prime. We discover who they were and what the did so wrong to Alma. To save the last remaining member of the Chowder Society. Don with the help of Fred Astaire's character begin to unravel the mystery and unlock the crime they were responsible for back in the 1930's.

    This movie is a great thrill without all the blood and guts that come with some horror stories. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone under age ten though, but it is still a great story. It's a great movie to rent and one that you can watch over and over again, especially around Fall/Halloween.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is the perfect horror movie - I cannot understand that I, being a horror addict, have not run into it before..! The story in itself is not very original; there are many ghost stories on the same theme, for example "Stir of Echoes". A group of friends, young men, kill a young woman by mistake. They do not want to go to jail - especially as they have so much going for them. So they hide the body and try not to think of it anymore. (Although in this movie, "Ghost Story", there is another twist to the hiding and the actual killing.) But in time the dead woman, who also has a couple of living people as her helpers, comes back to get her revenge...

    "Ghost Story" contains _everything_. Immensely good scares. Exciting plot development that keeps you on edge all the time - there are no dull moments! Also, I think it is so good because there are several different things to be scared of in the same movie, at the same time as they are all well entwined. The ghost itself of course, her human helpers who are very unpleasant lunatics on the run from a mental asylum, the horrible way in which the woman dies, and last but not least the now old men who have lived a good life and enjoyed good careers, family, beautiful homes etc., while their young victim has been lying in her wet grave, deprived of everything...

    I think the movie was also psychologically excellent. Because one understands how a thing that this can happen in reality (not the haunting, of course!). When young men are sexually frustrated, and at the same time attracted to and shy in the company of a young woman that they do not really respect... And the alcohol and peer pressure make them do things they would never do alone, being nice and well-behaved boys normally....

    Last but not least I must mention the cast. All of the actors are VERY good; real character actors. Even those in small supporting roles, such as the wives of the old men. That is very unusual in horror movies I believe, and that is one of the reasons that it turned out so good. Not only because these actors act well, but because they give more credibility to the movie. By the way, I had no idea before that Fred Astaire did real, "straight" character roles - I mean without any singing and dancing - when he was old. I now admire him even more!
  • Atmospheric horror film that doesn't excel, but is worth a view none the less.

    This movie must live down a very early scene where a fully frontal nude Craig Wasson plunges out of a high rise window to his death. The scene has a real phony look to it and conjers up images of just how fun it was for Craig to shoot it in front of a blue screen.

    The four great and distinguished older actors do a good job in elevating the movie. Alice Krige is great as the tormenting and tormented lady ghost.

    The musical score is INCREDIBLE, one of the best I've heard for this type of film.

    Makeup artist Dick Smith comes through again with the many visions of the rotted ghost.

    A good horror film, give it a shot if you haven't already.
  • I love a good scary story, and in spite of the large selection in both the film and book industry, good ones are very rare indeed.

    This is not one of them. Like the adaptation of The Shining, Ghost story takes every bit of intrigue and plot that the book was overflowing with and tosses it out the window. Unlike The Shining however, Ghost story doesn't even manage to be a good scary movie on its own.

    Whoever composed the musical score should be shot. It's overbearing and loud in scenes that call for a low key to enhance suspense, making all the "tense" scenes appear comical or inappropriate, like playing polka at a funeral. The acting is competent but since I'm not made to care about any of them the movie plays like a trailer instead of an actual film. The makeup and special effects were definitely the work of talent, but a lousy substitute for what it should have been. The only thing about it I really liked was Fred Astaire because I couldn't have picked a better Ricky Hawthorne myself.

    Basically this movie replaced one of the most intriguing villains I've ever read about with a sloppy ghost woman, sacrificed suspense for an incoherent slap-together plot and some nudity. The scariest thing about this movie was Craig Wasson's full frontal nude scene less than ten minutes in, and Alice Krige's soggy boobies for the remainder of the film. The book isn't the greatest thing you'll ever read, but it is still a good book and didn't deserve this canker sore of a film. Why can't they remake stuff like this instead of the karate kid?
  • When his brother David (Craig Wasson) dies on the eve of his wedding, Don travels back to his hometown in New England for the funeral services. He meets his grieving father Edward Charles Wanderley (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.), who has a weekly meeting with his old friends Ricky Hawthorne (Fred Astaire), Dr. John Jaffrey (Melvyn Douglas) and Sears James (John Houseman) to tell tales of horror, and together they form The Chowder Society. When Edward and John die in mysterious circumstances, Don sees the picture of Eva Galli (Alice Krige) from the 20's and he joins Rick and Sears to tell a ghost story about his romance with Alma Mobley. Then, the survivors of The Chowder Society disclose a tragic story from their youth, when they accidentally killed their friend Eva, and they conclude that Eva and Alma are the same woman and her spirit is seeking revenge.

    Today I have just watched ""Ghost Story", which is one of my favorite movies of ghost story, maybe for the fifth or sixth time and for the first time on DVD. I have never read the best-selling novel of Peter Straub, but I really love this tragic and sad tale. Alice Krige is sexy, hot, beautiful and also scary in her double role of Eva and Alma. It is great to see the veterans Fred Astaire, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Melvyn Douglas and John Houseman together in one of their last works. Craig Wasson was in evidence in the 80's and has also good performance. The cinematography is very beautiful and highlighted by the DVD that unfortunately is very poor, without any special feature or subtitle. My vote is eight.

    Title (Brazil): "História de Fantasma" ("Ghost Story")

    Note: On 03 Jun 2017 I saw this film again.

    Note: On 12 Feb 2019 I saw this film again.
  • "Ghost Story" charts two generations of men who find themselves being stalked by a mysterious woman with sinister intentions, her presence originating between four elderly New England plutocrats who share a fifty year-old secret. When one of the men's sons returns to town after his brother's mysterious death together, they unravel the story behind her.

    Based on Peter Straub's wildly successful novel, "Ghost Story" came about during the peak of the slasher film and is one of the few remembered supernatural horror films of the eighties. Straub's source novel is probably one of the greatest American ghost novels ever written, and some people have found the adaptation unforgivable, as it does excise a great deal from the book; I personally am able to get past this.

    What "Ghost Story" really is is a dark drama with a splash of horror, and this also has been a point of contention for genre fans. The film moves at a leisurely pace, and the scares are few and far between, but what director John Irvin does supply the audience is a profound atmosphere and general weirdness that is unforgettable. The wintry upstate New York landscape, the stuffy drawing rooms of the old men, and the abandoned mansion on the hill all provide a somber and pastoral backdrop that lend to the film's classic feel, and comparisons to "The Woman in Black" are well-earned.

    The cast is one of the major selling points here; Fred Astaire, Melvyn Douglas, Douglas Fairbanks, John Houseman, and Patricia Neal round out a roster of classic Hollywood stars in their old age (for many, this was their last film). Craig Wasson plays two roles of the second generation, with Alice Krige as the haunting woman that runs between them. The acting is good overall, though some of the older cast feel a bit underused; I think that may have to do with some wonky editing in the film, which is one of its few downfalls. It also feels dated at times, though not to its detriment.

    Overall, "Ghost Story" is a well-made film with a classic, ghastly edge to it. It is a slow film in many ways, but the subtlety employed here combined with the bleak and picturesque New England winterland really made this an enjoyable experience. There are some phenomenal Gothic images throughout, and the story itself has a certain timelessness to it in spite of the film's more dated qualities. Memorable and atmospheric for a variety of reasons. 8/10.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is one of my favorites. My first apartment, my first year on my own, my first HBO subscription. I watched this movie over and over again. Ghost Story is very atmospheric. Dark, dismal weather in the form of downpours and never ending snow. The weather was the perfect backdrop for the mysterious Eva Galli. Houseman, Astaire, Douglas,and Fairbanks, Jr. slip effortlessly into their roles as small town figureheads and Chowder Society members steeling their nerves with brandy in the coziness of their studies, trying to hold back the cold, the darkness, and Eva Galli's pent-up fury. Choate, Chamberlin, Johnson, and Olin play the Chowder Society's younger selves in the sweetness of their youth. Eva Krige plays the dual roles (or are they?) of Alma Mobley and Eva Galli, exhibiting a perfect blend of innocence and sensuality. The tragedy of Krige's Eva is inescapable. Craig Wasson also has a dual role as twin brothers Don and David Wanderly who become the avenue of attack for Eva Galli's vengeance against the Chowder Society. Ghost Story has few in-your-face shocks. Instead it is a slow simmering of genuinely creepy moments climaxing with Galli's rustling walk down the hall of her decrepit house to meet the trapped Don Wanderly. Will Eva have her revenge?
  • nickzbekool23 May 2012
    A classic haunted house film that is a creepy story you would talk about at a campfire. Smart, scary, thrilling, and masterful ghost tale. The terror begins as a group of 4 older men all having horrible nightmares related to their pasts become targeted by a vengeful spirit. It all began when they were teens and all 4 men fell for the same beautiful girl and after a tragic accident... they slowly move on with their lives. That is until as old men they beginning to get killed off and there's no escaping this evil as it gets stronger and stronger. Eerie, chilling, and pure horror movie fun! A real trip from the 80's that you really enjoy.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Quiet and understated but very effective, this is a genuinely creepy horror movie.

    The story concerns four old men, who have lived their entire lives in a small, almost permanently snowbound American town. They're played by legendary movie veterans Melvyn Douglas, Fred Astaire, and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. (it was the last film for all three of them) and John Houseman (who despite being in his sixties had only started acting several years earlier, making him a relative newcomer). Fifty years earlier, when they were young, proud and arrogant, they'd befriended a free-spirited and independently wealthy heiress named Eva Galli (played by South African actress Alice Krige) who was spending the summer in the town. However, after drunkenly inviting themselves to her house late one night, they accidentally killed her, then panicked and dumped her body in a lake.

    In the five decades since, all four have been riddled with guilt, their sleep constantly interrupted by vivid dreams in which Eva's death is endlessly repeated. Their lives also effectively ended that night: one of them was a high-flying medical student who planned to become a surgeon, while another had political ambitions and hoped to eventually run for senator and perhaps even president. But the two of them achieved no more than respectively becoming the local G.P. and the town's mayor. All four men are trapped in the town by their own consciences, unable to leave the scene of the crime.

    And then, half a century after she died, Eva Galli returns...

    The most chilling part of the movie that Eva has waited fifty years before seeking her revenge. Her killers have grown old and frail, and are already close to death themselves. They've had long, miserable, wasted lives, and the only possible single luxury they have left is dying peacefully in their beds. But Eva is going to make sure they don't even get that...

    Despite fine performances from her elderly co-stars, it's Krige who steals the film as the vengeful spectre. Although highly talented and breathtakingly beautiful, Krige never subsequently had the career she deserved. There's an undefinable otherworldly quality about her, and therefore Hollywood never quite knew what to do with her. She's kept working, but unsurprisingly her best known roles have been in other fantasy projects - Sleepwalkers, the Silent Hill movie, and playing the Borg Queen in Star Trek: First Contact, the final feature length episode of Star Trek: Voyager, and several Star Trek computer games.

    Ghost Story is mostly forgotten now, but was a strong influence on films such as What Lies Beneath (2000) and practically the entire wave of J-Horror movies. The female phantoms of The Ring, The Grudge and their various sequels, remakes and imitators, all owe a debt to Eva Galli.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    While this is not considered one of the better horror films ever made it none the less is a fun one to watch and it's because of the great actors that lend their craft and screen persona. Story is about four elderly gentlemen in the New England area and they share a 50 year old secret that continues to haunt them. The four of them have formed a private club called the Chowder Society and they have known each other most of their lives. The four are Sears James (John Houseman), John Jaffrey (Melvyn Douglas), Ricky Hawthorne (Fred Astaire) and Edward Wanderley (Douglas Fairbanks jr.) and Edward has a son named David (Craig Wasson) who mysteriously has died from falling out a window. Edward's other son Don (Wasson again) comes to the funeral and he thinks his brothers death is too strange to be an accident and he heard that David was involved with a woman that Don also knew. One day Edward dies from falling off of a bridge and now Don is convinced that the woman is responsible. Don gets with Ricky and tells him of his affair in Florida with a woman named Alma Mobley (Alice Krige) who acted very strange and this was why he would not marry her. Ricky gets John and Sears and the three of them tell Don of what happened 50 years ago. The four of them met a woman named Eva Galli (Krige again) and they would all get together and have fun. Eva and Edward have a more intimate relationship but one night they have a fight and Edward pushes Eva who falls and hits her head. They all think she's dead and decide to hide the evidence. They put her body in a car and push it into a lake but as the car starts to sink they see Eva still alive and trapped in the backseat. None of them can swim and are too drunk to save her so she dies trapped underwater. After Don hears this and presents a locket from Alma the four of them are sure its Eva who has come back for revenge.

    *****SPOILER ALERT*****

    This film was directed by John Irvin who is a competent director but he doesn't lend much to this film in terms of style. There are some genuinely spooky moments but these scenes only come sporadically during the course of the film. The big asset for this film of course is the great cast. But not only are the big four wonderful to watch, it's also a great opportunity to view a very young Alice Krige in a very good performance. There are some gratuitous nude scenes required of her and she exhibits some terrific raw sexuality with Wasson. We understand completely his attraction to her. She's mysterious and wild but we also understand why he won't marry her. She refuses to tell him about herself and he walks away. Krige has always been a terrific actress but she never really had another big role that made people stand up and take notice. The closest she came was in "Star Trek: First Contact" where she played the Borg Queen. One of the reasons this isn't considered a great horror film is that it's hard to swallow the fact that four of the great and sophisticated actors in history are in a film where there is a great amount of nudity. Fred Astaire and nudity, Houseman and nudity...they don't seem to belong in the same film. Another part of the film that was hard to figure was why Alma/Eva pops up in Florida to seduce Wasson. Why does she go all the way there? Why not just kill him? Why not just pop up in New England and get her revenge? And why does her ghost recruit the two lowlifes to help her? It's never really explained and this hurts the film in the way it tells it's story. But I do think there are some effective scenes and it's hard to shake the image at the end of the film where the car is dragged out of the lake and Astaire opening the car door where the corpse of Eva slowly emerges seemingly on it's own and falls to the ground. It's a chilling scene and there are enough of those moments to give this film an eerie atmosphere. Also, actor Tim Choate (The First Time) plays young Ricky in the flashback scenes. Not a classic but with this cast it probably doesn't need to be. Well worth a look by all.
  • chrissys_pony20 February 2006
    I don't remember the first time I saw this movie, but I own it and watch it when I feel like watching a good old scary movie that I can relate to so well. I also admire all the actors in this movie. Craig Wasson is awesome. I did not even realize that he played in so many other movies and series and has a movie in the process that I want to see. In Ghost Story he falls right into his role. Its great how he looked so scared when his could of been bride to be was walking towards him as she looked in her watery grave. I give it an 8 because there were people that could have been left out like the boy and escaped convict. This is definitely a great movie to watch with other believers.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This film gets a 6 on the scale of 1-10, only because it could have been much better. Special-effects are fascinating to watch (pause your videotape--if you rent--to check out Dick Smith-created scary corpses). A promising cast of veterans is wasted... Astaire, Houseman, Fairbanks Jr., Douglas and Neal are given very little to do except worry that the spectre from their past is quickly catching up with them. Fifty years ago, the four men (in the Peter Straub novel, five) unintentionally murdered Eva Galli (Krige), and now she's come back to cause serious mortal damage. One effective scene is when Douglas's character, sustaining a heart attack, is struggling to get his medication from a medicine cabinet, while Eva removes her hood; underneath it, she is a water-logged, drown victim. In closing, read the Straub book before viewing this film, and you'll better appreciate what the filmmakers tried to convey. "E" for "Effort."
  • Slurge-522 January 2005
    Maybe it's because I read Peter Straub's wonderful book before seeing the film, but I was terribly disappointed by this movie. In my opinion, the filmmakers removed everything that made the story interesting and unique, and replaced it with more common Hollywood-style elements.

    It's too bad, too, since this movie has a terrific cast, particularly Fred Astaire, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Melvyn Douglas, John Houseman, and the then-largely-unknown Alice Krige. They're just not given very much worthwhile to do.

    In fact, I was all for leaving halfway through, but a friend convinced me to stay to the end, as he was sure it had to get better. He apologised to me during the closing credits.
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