7.3/10
962
25 user 11 critic

A Warning to the Curious (1972)

An archeologist goes treasure hunting along the English coast in search of a lost, fabled crown that supposedly helps protect Great Britain against invasion.

Director:

Lawrence Gordon Clark (uncredited)

Writers:

M.R. James (story), Lawrence Gordon Clark
Reviews
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
Peter Vaughan ... Mr Paxton
Clive Swift ... Dr. Black
Julian Herington Julian Herington ... Archaeologist
John Kearney John Kearney ... Ager / Ghost
David Cargill ... Boots
George Benson George Benson ... Vicar
Roger Milner Roger Milner ... Antique Shop Owner (as Roger Millner)
Gilly Fraser Gilly Fraser ... Girl
David Pugh David Pugh ... Porter
Cyril Appleton ... Labourer
Learn more

More Like This 

The Stalls of Barchester (TV Movie 1971)
Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

While cataloging the library of Barchester Cathedral, a scholar finds a diary detailing the events surrounding the mysterious death of an Archdeacon some 50 years earlier. The first of the BBC's famed 'A Ghost Story for Christmas'.

Director: Lawrence Gordon Clark
Stars: Robert Hardy, Clive Swift, Thelma Barlow
The Ash Tree (TV Short 1975)
Short | Drama | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Man of leisure Sir Richard (Edward Petherbridge) receives notification that his Uncle has died, bequeathing him his stately country manor and all its lands. On his return to England he ... See full summary »

Director: Lawrence Gordon Clark
Stars: Edward Petherbridge, Preston Lockwood, Barbara Ewing
Short | Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

The Reverend Justin Somerton, a scholar of Medieval history, and his protégé Lord Peter Dattering are visiting an Abbey library. Studying a stained glass window they uncover clues leading to a treasure hidden by a disgraced Abbot.

Director: Lawrence Gordon Clark
Stars: Sheila Dunn, Anne Blake, Frank Mills
The Signalman (TV Short 1976)
Drama | Horror | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A lonely Signalman is visited by a stranger.

Director: Lawrence Gordon Clark
Stars: Denholm Elliott, Bernard Lloyd, Reginald Jessup
Lost Hearts (TV Short 1973)
Short | Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A young orphan, Stephen, is sent to go and live with his strange, much older cousin at his remote country house. Once there, Stephen experiences terrible dreams in which he sees a young girl and boy who are missing their hearts.

Director: Lawrence Gordon Clark
Stars: Simon Gipps-Kent, Joseph O'Conor, James Mellor
Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

After placing his ailing wife Alice (Gemma Jones) in a care home elderly academic James Parkin (Sir John Hurt) goes to stay at a wintry out-of-season hotel which they used to visit together... See full summary »

Director: Andy De Emmony
Stars: John Hurt, Gemma Jones, Lesley Sharp
Stigma (TV Short 1977)
Short | Drama | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

A young couple move into a remote country house in the middle of a stone circle. They employ workmen who disturb an ancient menhir, unleashing a supernatural force.

Director: Lawrence Gordon Clark
Stars: Kate Binchy, Peter Bowles, Maxine Gordon
A View from a Hill (TV Short 2005)
Short | Drama | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

In fact Dr Fanshawe is not on holiday. As an archaeologist, he has been engaged by the squire to catalogue a private collection of local artefacts.

Director: Luke Watson
Stars: Mark Letheren, Pip Torrens, David Burke
The Tractate Middoth (TV Short 2013)
Short | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

On his deathbed vicar Rant makes a secret confession to his niece Mary Simpson. Some twenty years later young librarian William Garrett is asked by elderly John Eldred to locate a book ... See full summary »

Director: Mark Gatiss
Stars: Louise Jameson, John Castle, Eleanor Bron
Number 13 (TV Short 2006)
Short | Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

In order to authenticate some historical papers in a cathedral town, Oxbridge academic Anderson stays at a local hotel in room 12, initially disregarding the lack of a number 13 as ... See full summary »

Director: Pier Wilkie
Stars: Greg Wise, Paul Freeman, David Burke
The Stone Tape (TV Movie 1972)
Fantasy | Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A research team from an electronics company move into an old Victorian house to start work on finding a new recording medium. When team member Jill Greeley witnesses a ghost, team director ... See full summary »

Director: Peter Sasdy
Stars: Michael Bryant, Jane Asher, Iain Cuthbertson
Ghost Stories for Christmas (TV Mini-Series 2000)
Drama | Fantasy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Horror legend Christopher Lee hosts and narrates a series of four half hour ghost stories all based on stories by M.R. James. 'The Stalls of Barchester', 'The Ash Tree', 'Number 13' and 'A ... See full summary »

Stars: Christopher Lee, Peter White, Matthew Wheatley

Photos

Edit

Storyline

An amateur archaeologist, Mr Paxton (Peter Vaughan), travels to the coastal Norfolk town of Seaburgh. His research has uncovered an old Anglo-Saxon legend telling of three fabled crowns that protect England from invasion. One is said to have been lost in a war, a second lost to the sea - but the third is thought to be hidden somewhere near Seaburgh. Paxton checks into a local inn where, despite the suspicions of the locals, he hears that another archaeologist searching for the crown was found dead more than a decade ago. His inquiries lead him to the grave of a local man, William Ager who was said to be the last of his line and a guardian of the crown. Paxton goes to search the woods near Ager's former home but his excavations will unearth something more than the fabled crown. Written by Mark_a_Wood <markawood@hotmail.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Horror | Mystery

Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The church used in the scenes where Mr Paxman is talking to the vicar about the coat of arms and sees a ghost figure is St Marys church, Happisburgh Norfolk. See more »

Connections

Featured in The Lost Ghost Story with Mark Gatiss (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

Density 21.5
by Edgard Varèse
See more »

User Reviews

 
"He was here, you see? He came to take it back"
4 October 2008 | by ackstasisSee all my reviews

I'm not the greatest horror fan you'll ever find, but I know what I find creepy, and this is it. Modern horror directors, most of whom rely on violence, gore and sudden shocks as cheap scare-tactics, ought to take a look 'A Warning to the Curious (1972),' a short made-for-TV horror story presumably produced on a shoestring budget. It seems an odd thing to be frightened about, but I find few things more unsettling than an anonymous person standing at a distance, watching purposefully in your direction. Watching and waiting, watching and waiting. This film was adapted from a story by M.R. James {whose writing also inspired the equally-wonderful 'Whistle and I'll Come to You (1968)'}, and was directed by Lawrence Gordon Clark, the second film in BBC's acclaimed "Ghost Story for Christmas" tradition. While not particularly faithful to James' original story (of which an audio reading is available on the British Film Institute DVD), there are certainly enough unsettling moments to keep you awake at night.

Mr. Paxton (Peter Vaughan) is an amateur archaeologist who, having arrived in the small town of Seaburgh, is set on unearthing an ancient Saxon crown, the last of three buried along the Norfolk coast to protect its inhabitants from overseas invasion. Despite the vaguely-intimidating behaviour of the suspicious townsfolk, Paxton eventually succeeds in locating and excavating the prized treasure, but soon discovers that he has also unearthed something quite unearthly. Wherever he treads, he feels as though he is not alone, a presence personified only by the flicker of a shadow in the corner of his eye, a spectre also perceived by those around him. This is the ghost of William Ager (John Kearney), the final member of an old family dedicated to protecting the secret of the crown, even after death. Ager, dressed in a silly black cloak, might have made a laughable villain, but creative camera-work and editing – shooting from a distance, obscured by darkness or fog, blurred photography – means that this mysterious phantom is always at the back of our minds.

'A Warning to the Curious' is not quite as subtle as 'Whistle and I'll Come to You' – the ghost is seen, however briefly, relatively early in the film – making it more accessible to the average viewer, though some may require a few minutes to come to terms with the unique, underplayed style of British low-budget horror film-making. The photography is suitably atmospheric, with subdued colours decorating the bleak Norfolk landscape, though black-and-white would undoubtedly have been even better. The soundtrack, which '2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)' fans will notice includes György Ligeti's "Atmospheres," is perfect for evoking the ever-escalating presence of the mysterious and increasingly-sinister unknown. The acting is excellent both from Peter Vaughan and fellow visitor Dr. Black (Clive Swift) in whom he confides. All this, through the steady craftsmanship of director Lawrence Gordon Clark, adds together to create an excellent British ghost story chiller. To avoid casting doubt on my mental stability, I'll refrain from describing the vivid Ager-related nightmare I experienced just last night.


8 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 25 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
Edit

Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

24 December 1972 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Ghost Story for Christmas: A Warning to the Curious See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series



Recently Viewed