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Ghost Stories: The Curious Tales of the Making of Ghost Story (2009)

An all-new 72 minute featurette including interviews with Director/Producer Stephen Weeks, Actors Larry Dann and Murray Melvin, British Horror Icon Barbara Shelley, and composer (and Pink ... See full summary »

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An all-new 72 minute featurette including interviews with Director/Producer Stephen Weeks, Actors Larry Dann and Murray Melvin, British Horror Icon Barbara Shelley, and composer (and Pink Floyd collaborator) Ron Geesin, with comments from UK critic Kim Newman. Written by Anonymous

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18 November 2009 (UK)  »

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Ghost Stories: THE CURIOUS TALES OF THE MAKING OF "Ghost Story" (V) (Jake West, 2009) ***
11 October 2011 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

Running almost as long as the film it is 'remembering', this is an exhaustive documentary on the behind-the-scenes vicissitudes of this minor but stylish British horror effort by a director (who had started at just 16!) who never quite fulfilled his early promise. With interjections by a fair share of those involved (including its creator Stephen Weeks, composer Ron Geesin and cast members Murray Melvin, Larry Dann – the protagonist – and Barbara Shelley) but also renowned genre critic/author Kim Newman (who recalls missing out on it back in the day, so poorly distributed was the film!), this proves an informative and enjoyable ride (more so, in fact, that the Audio Commentary accompanying the movie proper, which repeats most of what is said here anyway).

It goes from the project's genesis (some of which I mentioned in my review of GHOST STORY itself – such as the Amicus connection and the decision to shoot in India) but, along the way are several interesting and amusing anecdotes worth denoting here. Leading lady Marianne Faithful had been a "Swinging Sixties" icon (occasional actress, singer and Mick Jagger's girlfriend) but, by the early 1970s, drug addiction had rendered her destitute (some of the speakers recall that one of her arms was 'blocked' from the constant injections!); though she was thought to be clean when it came to make the film, this turned out not to be the case (Dunn describes her behavior as "vague"), with her current partner actually seeing to her 'needs'. An actress playing a bit part as co-star Leigh Lawson's girlfriend was advised by her father to don paper panties because the river Ganges was deemed to be dirty; when she throws away her latest bit of disposable underwear, the maid asks her if she can have them…only to later find the woman wiping the glasses from which the crew would drink with that very same article of clothing! On a similar note, the asylum inmates were played by actual hippies, which were looked down on in the community, so that the expensive plates from which they ate were summarily destroyed! Again, the fragile and all-important doll was treated with the utmost care throughout shooting but, as soon as they were done with it, the artifact was mysteriously found shattered (Melvin's car in the film, also a genuine model and scrupulously looked after by its real owner, also suffered damages)!

Other stuff relates to earlier proposed casting: Ronald Lacey (best-known for playing the villainous Nazi in Steven Spielberg's RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK {1981}) was supposed to play the protagonist but could not travel to India due to health problems and he suggested friend Dunn (incidentally, a number of the speakers remark about the physical ailments they endured on location), while future film-maker David Leland had been slated for the third lead, eventually played by Vivian MacKerrell (a flamboyant pal and room-mate of Bruce Robinson's and on whom the latter would base the protagonist of his cult movie WITHNAIL & I {1987}!) in his only movie role. The documentary then closes with a lengthy but fascinating section devoted to Geesin's musical expertise (he passionately looks at Music as an Art form and is, therefore, adamantly anti-Union – whom he believes that, amid all their good intentions to protect the musicians' interests, more often than not proceed to stifle their very creativity!); Geesin also recounts how he opted to work alone, as opposed to being part of an ensemble, after a terrible personal experience during the recording sessions of the 1970 Pink Floyd album "Atom Heart Mother"!


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