6.3/10
6,805
115 user 80 critic

Ghost Story (1981)

Two generations of men find themselves haunted by the presence of a spectral woman. When the son of one of the elderly men returns to his hometown after his brother's mysterious death, they attempt to unravel her story.

Director:

John Irvin

Writers:

Peter Straub (novel), Lawrence D. Cohen (screenplay)
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ON DISC
2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Fred Astaire ... Ricky Hawthorne
Melvyn Douglas ... John Jaffrey
Douglas Fairbanks Jr. ... Edward Wanderley
John Houseman ... Sears James
Craig Wasson ... Don / David
Patricia Neal ... Stella
Alice Krige ... Alma / Eva
Jacqueline Brookes ... Milly
Miguel Fernandes ... Gregory Bate
Lance Holcomb ... Fenny Bate
Mark Chamberlin Mark Chamberlin ... Young John Jaffrey
Tim Choate ... Young Ricky Hawthorne
Kurt Johnson ... Young Edward Wanderley
Ken Olin ... Young Sears James
Brad Sullivan ... Sheriff Hardesty
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Storyline

Four successful elderly gentlemen, members of the Chowder Society, share a gruesome, 50-year old secret. When one of Edward Wanderley's twin sons dies in a bizarre accident, the group begins to see a pattern of frightening events developing. Written by Jeanne Armintrout <jeannee@uwyo.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The time has come to tell the tale.

Genres:

Drama | Horror | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

18 December 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Cuento de fantasmas See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,105,729, 20 December 1981, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$23,371,905
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of two 1981 movies starring Craig Wasson, the other film was Arthur Penn's Four Friends (1981). See more »

Goofs

Just before Fenny moves toward Ricky in Eva's old house, Fenny's strap is down. In the next shot, it is up. See more »

Quotes

Sears James: It was as if she had never been here. As if it had never happened.
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Connections

Referenced in Dark Water (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

Sweetheart of Sigma Chi
Written by F. Dudleigh Vernor and Byron D. Stokes
Performed by Guy Lombardo and The Royal Canadians (as His Royal Canadians)
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Picturesque snow-covered Milburn. An old town with a dark secret.
25 July 2011 | by Vomitron_GSee all my reviews

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.


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