Ghost Story - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Ghost Story Reviews

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September 8, 2017
Based on Peter Straub's novel, Ghost Story is a decent supernatural thriller that unfortunately suffers from lack or originality, and that fact that it's just not very scary. I've never read Straub's novel (although I intend to fix that), and that's probably why I enjoyed the movie more than most. The story is fairly routine...four friends cover up a crime from their past that literally comes back to haunt them. That's about it. I'm sure the novel is far more complex, but Lawrence Cohen's screenplay strips it down to the bare essentials. The movie's main strength is the casting of Hollywood legends Fred Astaire, Melvyn Douglas, John Houseman and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. They bring some much needed believability to an otherwise average script. Although it's Alice Krige, as the ghostly apparition, who nearly steals the show with her eerily hypnotic performance (she never blinks!). Sadly, you get the feeling the movie could've been so much more under someone familiar with the genre. Director John Irvin never really manages to conjure up any scares or suspense, and the slow pace of the film is a major issue. It's also disappointing that makeup effects masters Dick Smith and Rick Baker's work is barely given any screen time. Ghost Story has its moments, but this is actually one horror film that could use a remake.
August 10, 2017
Superbly well written and very spooky movie. Tries to cram what must be a long book into a movie, which is sometimes difficult, and which leaves viewer sometimes trying to keep up with what is happening. But it's worth the effort - there are some truly spooky moments and (given that the special effects are 1981 vintage) some horrific frights. Alice Krige in particular is absolutely chilling (whilst also managing to be totally hot, which is quite a thing to manage).
July 11, 2017
This movie was almost universally panned by critics, but %@#* them, I liked it, and I liked t alot... ;-) The movie at times seemed to rely too much upon the shock effect of sudden decaying faces, etc., but all in all, it is a good story, and features a great all-star cast set in a bleak New England winter that only adds to the creepy atmosphere... It's not a masterpiece folks, but it is quite a good yarn... Alice Krige's sublimely creepy performance alone makes this movie worth watching, in my humble opinion...
½ February 18, 2017
Scary for me as a youth.
October 7, 2016
ni parecida al libro
September 23, 2016
Great cast of talented actors makes this a classic horror story. Truly believable and very scary. Great for Halloween.
½ September 17, 2016
A classic camp fire tale.
September 7, 2016
Ghost Story is a 1981 (What a year!) supernatural horror movie. What this film lacks in a orderly and coherent plot it makes up for in strangeness and chills! There's a sense of dread and spookiness that only builds with every scene! Ghost Story also has some impressive and quite creepy makeup effects under it's sleeve. There are moments where characters and plot points float in and out of the movie as a haphazard break to the more stylish and visceral scenes (something I think could get on peoples nerves). I imagine in the Novel there are some spots that translate better. I would say check out Ghost Story if you're a horror fan looking for a ghost story (a-ha!) with atmosphere and style put ahead of story. Always see for yourself!
February 21, 2016
... nothing to do with the book
½ January 3, 2016
I have always liked Ghost stories and finally got around to this film. Shot by Master cinematographer Jack Cardiff and starring several classic stars, it really is a treat. There are also great practical visual effects. Worth a watch for horror fans.
October 27, 2014
I'm not sure whether the horror lies in the story itself (a vengeful female ghost returns 50 years later to destroy her killers) or in the fact that we can see how age has ravaged such popular matinee idols as Doug Fairbanks, Jr., Fred Astaire, and Melvyn Douglas or producer extraordinaire John Houseman. Indeed, such a fate lies in store for us! But hopefully not the vengeful ghost part. Nondescript Craig Wasson stumbles into the story which remains absorbing (if not frightening) for the first 2/3 and then, in the reveal-all flashback from the 1930s, the less than excellent acting (and the absence of our old leads) makes everything go flat. Overall though, the blend of schlocky horror and somewhat stately drama is pulled off (by the standards of the very dodgy horror genre where masterpieces are slim pickings indeed) -- but one would have hoped for better for these old guys ending their careers.
September 23, 2014

"I thought you'd be dying to see me."-Alma/Eva (Alice Krige)

A necrophilia story: Secret Of The Ooze

"Dance with me, you little toad."-Eva
½ August 3, 2014
This adaptation of Peter Straub's overrated but nonetheless entertaining novel has exactly three things going for it: the handsome cinematography by the masterful Jack Cardiff, the beautifully evocative score by Philippe Sarde, and the chilling performance of South African actress Alice Krige. These elements are almost enough to elevate Lawrence D. Cohen's muddled screenplay to a solid genre effort, but unfortunately the film completely falls apart in its latter half, finally becoming silly and predictable. Fred Astaire, Douglas Fairbanks, John Houseman, and Melvyn Douglas play four elderly upper-crust gentlemen in a tiny New England hamlet; friends for over half a century, the men, who refer to themselves collectively as the Chowder Society, meet every week in the dead of night and sit by a roaring fire in a handsomely-appointed study, trading ghost stories. When one of Fairbanks's sons dies in what appears to be a bizarre accident, a terrible secret from their past threatens to come to light. Meanwhile, Fairbanks's surviving son arrives in town. He knew the woman (Krige) that his now-dead brother was about to marry, because he dated her before. He always felt there was something strange about her, and believes she may be responsible for his brother's death. But when he learns that the mysterious woman from his own past may have a connection to the gentlemen of the Chowder Society, the characters begin to realize that they could be dealing with a supernatural threat. The film never quite comes together narratively, and by the time the woman's identity is revealed, the power of the atmosphere is all but spent, and we're left with a lame, predictable conclusion that completely betrays the rest of the film's measured approach. There are some brilliant visuals and the music is appropriately chilly, given the film's snowbound setting, but there are simply too many problems to make this one work properly. And while it's wonderful to see four old Hollywood stalwarts together in one movie, none of them, with the exception of Douglas, give especially memorable performances, and Astaire himself is miscast, as is Craig Wasson in the dual role of Fairbanks's twin sons. In the end, it doesn't work. But still, having said all that, the film is worth seeing, if only to soak in the exquisitely creepy atmosphere; just don't expect it all to come together.
June 17, 2014
Hard to review, but it seems that this deriviating adaptation of its source material of the same name is a horror film with old men, played by few Hollywood vets, as the story's victims. It's sort of creepy, with unappealing contents. (C+)
½ January 18, 2014
While it takes many liberties with the source material, it suffers many of the same faults, particularly a glacial pace and overly long flashbacks. However, the movie doesn't have Straub's rich prose to fill in the gaps. And whereas the novel eventually conveys a sense of urgency and danger, the movie is pretty bland through and through.
½ December 17, 2013
I wanted to revisit this old "scary flick" of the Showtime era just to be sure it was as dull as it was when I first watched it. An impressive cast is wasted by old age. You can see that these notable actors were not even having fun doing this movie. The story is decent, the special effect were just fine for the times, but there was nothing suspenseful here. And to top it off, logic was thrown out the window.
June 7, 2013
Watched this for the first time since my early childhood. Along with the profoundly twisted 'Burnt Offerings,' this is one of the first pay-channel horror flicks to freak me out when I was about six or seven. Throughout the movie my wife repeatedly expressed her disbelief in my mom actually allowing my brother and I to watch such stuff. After all, it's littered with gore and nudity, everything from full cock-n-balls during a falling-from-high-rise death opening to a revealing sex scene between a college professor and an English ghost (never knew that was possible). 'Ghost Story' isn't classic horror by any means (certainly not on par with 'Burnt Offerings); plus, the story is a bit of a mess. For example, the inclusion of the on-the-lame cult leader and his grimy-ass son doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Yet there is something haunting about the subject matter: old white men and their secrets, self-empowered women damned to be outsiders, families doomed to repeat history, etc.
May 16, 2013
As a horror film, "Ghost Story" was wonderfully old-fashioned upon its initial release, and with time that has only becomes more apparent. In fact, that really is the film's greatest asset, and looking back on it now, it's clear to me that this was really a meeting of old and new Hollywood, a film that pays homage to the past but also brings it into the present.

It gives a handful of great old school actors a marvelous swan song, and the look and feel of the picture is decidedly antiquated. But there are also a lot of modern touches, like the more modern sexual nature of the storyline and the unnerving special effects courtesy of Dick Smith.

The film is based an a terrific gothic novel by Peter Straub, and like most adaptations several things are lost in translation and a lot of the texture is simply missing due to the time constraints of a two hour film. The basic premise, however, remains intact and the finished product is a beautiful albeit slow-moving film with a great emphasis on storytelling. That's yet one more sign of an era of filmmaking that has sadly passed us by, but the tale is compelling enough to keep you watching.

Jack Cardiff's cinematography is crisp, and the New England setting is a perfect fit for the story being told. With as much build-up that went into this is is a shame that the ending wrap things up so neatly and briskly, but that's a minor complaint in a film that's as well made as this one.

"Ghost Story" is a chilly throwback to a glorious time before films were made on computers, even with the contemporary touches. It's a handsome looking, vintage horror film.
April 18, 2013
loved . classy and elegant.
½ April 12, 2013
An awful adaptation of a spectacular novel.
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