The Horror Honeys: Dance with me, you little toad!

Dance with me, you little toad!

A Supernatural Honey Classic Review

Ghost Story (1981)

Well, Valentine's Day is upon us and it seems like only yesterday it was Halloween. I hate this stupid holiday. It makes me want to destroy something. Then again, I feel like that most days. In honor of scorned lovers everywhere, I watched a little movie that most people have no love for, Ghost Story

Ricky Hawthorne (Fred Astaire), Sears James (John Houseman), Edward "Ned" Wanderley (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) and Dr. John Jaffery (Melvyn Douglas), old friends and the only members of The Chowder Society, get together once a week to drink brandy and tell ghost stories. That sounds like my kind of party! After Ned's son dies mysteriously, his other son, Don (Craig Wasson) returns home convinced that his brother was murdered by the same woman he once had a relationship with (Alice Krige). A woman who, Don believes, is not what she appears to be. After Ned falls to his death, Don buys his way into The Chowder Society with his own ghost story. This story brings to light a 50-year-old murder his father and friends have kept secret. 

Don's story is a retelling of how he met, fell in love with and intended to marry, Alma Mobley. Alma seems far too interested in Don's hometown in New England and refuses to tell him anything about herself. As the relationship deepens, Alma's behavior changes. She becomes cold, physically and emotionally. He decides she seems less than human and he calls off the engagement. She leaves and several months later becomes involved with Don's brother, who falls from his bedroom window.

The remaining members of the Chowder Society tell their tale of how, back in 1931, they met a young Eva Galli (also played by Krige). While all of the boys are smitten, Eva only has eyes for Ned. Unfortunately, when Ned attempts to bed her, but is unable, she mocks him in front of the others. Ned reacts violently. Believing Eva to be dead, they put her in a car and push it into a pond, realizing too late that she was still alive. Now she's back and busting balls.

Alice Krige is stunningly creepy. She conveys just the right amount of class and innocence when called for, but when she's looking for revenge, she is cold and vicious. Eva/Alma takes no prisoners. When she's done with Ned and his offspring, she guns for the rest of the Chowder Society. Speaking of, Houseman, Astaire, Douglas and Fairbanks, Jr. are everything they should be, pompous, thoughtful, intelligent and petrified, respectively. And let's face it, Fred Astaire is adorable, regardless of his advanced age.

Filmed in locations I know intimately, Saratoga Springs, NY and Woodstock, VT, it looks like an oil painting. The muted colors and victorian backdrop give this a true gothic feel. If you were to walk the streets of Woodstock, even now, you would feel like you stepped back in time.

Special effects by Dick Smith and Rick Baker are what you might expect from these geniuses. Eva is shown in varying stages of decay and all of them horrifying.

Based on the novel by Peter Straub, it is not a faithful adaptation so most feel it has little to offer. Obviously, these folks are mental patients. The four iconic actors alone are worth the price of admission. I love the book and while the movie adaptation is not as good, is certainly worthy of my affection. 

Is this movie perfect? Absolutely not. The acting is over the top at times. Craig Wasson seems to be the only one playing it straight. Eva's revenge is rather tame and most of the resulting deaths could be explained away as accidents, falling out a window, falling off a bridge, heart attack, nothing freaky or earth shattering. Aside from the rotting corpse of Eva, there really isn't any gore. Not that I would suggest you watch this with your Grandmother, regardless of how much she loves Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. 

There is some full frontal nudity of both Wasson and Krige. Unfortunately, Wasson comes up a little… short, but maybe it just really cold the day they filmed that scene.

Maybe it's nostalgia, maybe it's the familiar locations, but this movie is like comfort food for me. It's a love story, a revenge story and a classic ghost story. 

Supernatural Honey verdict - I give this 3.5 heart shaped boxes of candy out of 5.