Ghost Story 1981

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Peter Straub’s novel comes to the screen from director John Irvin, with an all-star cast of Hollywood greats working a familiar haunted-house trope. The Chowder Society, played by Fred Astaire, Melvyn Douglas, John Houseman and Douglas Fairbanks Jr, reconvenes when a long-kept secret comes back to haunt them. Craig Wasson is a reasonably personable lead, Alice Krige makes a haunting ghost, and Dick Smith creates some memorable effects. The pairing of venerable actors and new-fangled gore and nudity didn’t give Ghost Story much cultural cache in 1981, but its old-school plotting and visual inventiveness have plenty to offer genre fans, who’ll revel in the snowy atmosphere and the well-rendered 1930’s flashbacks.

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