IMDb > "ITV Playhouse" Casting the Runes (1979)

"ITV Playhouse" Casting the Runes (1979)

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ITV Playhouse: Season 11: Episode 9 -- Drawn from one of M.R. James's most frightening tales, Casting the Runes pits an innocent television producer against a fiendish alchemist.


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Clive Exton (adaptation)
M.R. James (from a story by)
View company contact information for Casting the Runes on IMDbPro.
Original Air Date:
24 April 1979 (Season 11, Episode 9)
Like NIGHT OF THE DEMON, this adaptation is based only very loosely based on the original ghost story by M.R. James. However, it does feature eerie scenic views and is directed by Lawrence "Ghost Story For Christmas" Gordon Clark | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
User Reviews:
Cheaply made, but still watchable James adaptation See more (4 total) »


 (Episode Cast) (in credits order)
Iain Cuthbertson ... Julian Karswell
Jan Francis ... Prudence Dunning
Bernard Gallagher ... Derek Gayton
Joanna Dunham ... Jean Gayton
Edward Petherbridge ... Henry Harrington
Christopher Good ... John Harrington
Patricia Shakesby ... Elise Marriott

David Calder ... John Marriott
Jane Lowe ... Joanna
Alan Downer ... Peter
Clifford Parrish ... Wiggin
Christine Buckley ... Housekeeper
Abdul Ali ... Doctor
Simon Prebble ... Newscaster

Episode Crew
Directed by
Lawrence Gordon Clark 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Clive Exton  adaptation
M.R. James  from a story by

Produced by
Lawrence Gordon Clark .... producer
David Cunliffe .... executive producer
Cinematography by
Peter Jackson (lighting cameraman)
Film Editing by
Peter Taylor 
Production Design by
Natasha Kroll 
Sound Department
Alan Bedward .... dubbing mixer
Barrie Box .... sound

Production Companies

Additional Details

47 min

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Movie Connections:
Version of Curse of the Demon (1957)See more »


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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful.
Cheaply made, but still watchable James adaptation, 9 September 2008
Author: Prof-Hieronymos-Grost from Ireland

The great Lawrence Gordon Clark returns to his favourite author, this time with a loose reinterpretation of "Casting the Runes" that had previously been filmed by Jacques Tourneur as Night of the Demon(1957). After a journalist writes a scathing review of a book by Julian Karswell, he soon begins to become paranoid and feels he is being followed, within a month he is dead in gruesome circumstances. Fast forward 10 years and a TV company are producing a TV series that outs charlatans, mystics, fortune tellers etc.. their latest episode concerns witchcraft and lampoons the now reclusive Karswell. Prudence Dunning (Jan Francis) is one of the producers of the program and soon she is plagued by strange events in her life, through some investigating she is able to link her plight to Karswell and the death of the journalist a decade previous. Soon she realises she has only a month to live from the time the events began, can she stop Karswell's spell coming true? I won't even try and compare this to the masterpiece of cinema that is Night of the Demon, as they bear only vague resemblances. This production suffers greatly from budgetary deficiencies that make it look like a poorman's episode of 70's Dr Who. The sfx are very very cheap, the film also switches between video tape for indoor scenes back to 16 mm film for out of doors. So does it retain any of James's menace? Well yes it does if you can forego the productions limitations, Clark has always had an eye for creating an atmosphere and he does so here, even if it is to a lesser extent than his "Ghost story at Christmas" series of films. Like Night of the Demon, this production also reveals its supernatural creature early on, why?… who knows? The performances are at times quite stilted and stagey, the silences between dialogue at time becoming excruciating, still though Iain Cuthbertson as Karswell does retain some menace, Jan Francis and Bernard Gallagher also put in decent showings. Not essential, but certainly worth a watch for devotees of either James or Clark.

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