8 September 2008 | Prof-Hieronymos-Grost
Chilling ghost story
Mr Paxton (Peter Vaughan) has been a clerk all his life with an amateurs enthusiasm for Archaelogy. So when his business goes bust, he decides to take up his passion full time. His first venture is secured after he finds an old book that mentions an old Anglo-Saxon legend of the three fabled crowns that protect England from invaders. The first two are reported to have been lost, one during a war and the second at sea, that leaves one hidden, its resting place rumoured to be in Norfolk near the town of Seaburg. On his arrival in the misty Seaburg, he checks in to the local Inn where he finds the locals are untrusting and suspicious of him, his inquiries lead to the grave of William Ager, who it is said was the protector of the last crown, who died twelve years previously decrying his sorrow that he was the last of the line of protectors and that England was now at risk. Paxton also finds out that there was another archaeologist killed nearby on just such a treasure hunt as he was embarking on, putting two and two together he believes Ager must have been the killer. His continuing detective work leads him to Ager's former home where he learns that Ager spent his nights in the nearby woods, working on instinct Paxton begins his dig here and soon finds his treasure, but this is where his problems being, as what he digs up gives him cause for grave concern and fears for his life from forces unknown
..Dum Dee Dum Dum Dummmm! Paxton entrusts his thoughts with the only other guest at the Inn, a Dr Black, he tells him he believes he is being followed by some spectral figures, that never seem to take the same shape, Is Paxton's paranoia well founded? Paxton believes that he must replace the treasure where he found it, in order to stop these visions apparitions and nightmares that plague his every moment.
In 1971 the BBC launched its periodic series of A Ghost Story for Christmas, to produce a one off film that would be screened each Christmas and based on Britain's most famous ghost story writer, M R James. A Warning to the Curious was the second of these adaptations that was first screened in 1972. Lawrence Gordon Clark was the brains behind the series, of which he directed the first 7 films, while also producing and writing the scripts, he managed to put his style firmly on these films and capture the very essence of James' writings in a visual format. Warning to the Curious is a slow burner that builds up its characters backgrounds before getting to the scares with Vaughn's understated performance being quite exemplary, the fear growing on his face by the moment. All of this is framed around an atmospherically set coastal town, drenched in mist and surrounded by barren marshes and stunning yet bleak horizons, that has echoes of that town from The Woman in Black(1989). The scenes in the woods are pretty tense too, as every rustle in the bushes sends a chill down the spine as Paxton with his back to the trees digs for his treasure. As its made for 70's TV, its production values are quite low and because of this and its leisurely pace it may not be for the modern horror fan, but for those of a certain age and a discerning eye for good ghost stories, this is hard to beat.