CFF Collection: Scary Stories DVD
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Produced in 1974-85
Main Language - English
Countries & Regions - British Film
Containing James Hill's The Man from Nowhere, Haunters of the Deep and John Krish's Out of the Darkness, this is a quality collection with some outstanding storytelling, writes Graeme Hobbs.
Just as its title promises, there are some genuine scares in the films here, but what really stands out in this geographically diverse collection is the quality of the storytelling. Weaving children's adventures through local folklore and history, these are no off-the-peg stories.
The Man from Nowhere finds determined young orphan Alice confronted by a mysterious black-clad man who warns her away from Tower House, where she has gone to stay with her great uncle, her only surviving relative. The man seems to know her every move and his sudden appearances are as alarming for the viewers as they are for Alice - though thankfully (against the housekeeper's advice) she has befriended some local ragamuffins to help her get to the bottom of the mystery. Alice is well named as the young girl negotiating the unfamiliar, oversized surroundings of a manor house in the country - something which James Hill (Lunch Hour, The Home-Made Car, Born Free) understands well. And Sarah Hollis-Andrews is excellent as the wilful, occasionally terrified, girl, happy to accept her rich uncle's charity - but only on her own terms.
In its style and setting - a country estate where a person's arrival reveals latent, or here, threatened, forces - The Man from Nowhere resembles a Lawrence Gordon Clark BBC 'Ghost Story for Christmas' as it admirably treads the line between supernatural visitation and underhand goings-on. Music is from John Cameron (Kes, CCS) and the closing credits are delightful.
Haunters of the Deep takes us to Cornwall with a tale of a haunted mine. The American CEO of Aminco Mining Corp. wants to re-open the tin-rich Strangles Head Mine, despite the dire warnings of old local miner Captain Tregellis (Andrew Keir, who himself started his working life in a mine at the age of 14) whose childhood friend had lost his life there many years before. Warnings are ignored (there's local employment to think of too) and its is up to Josh, whose older brother has taken a job in the mine, and Becky, the CEO's daughter, to set aside their initial animosity and bring about a rescue when the mine walls begin to let in the sea. With its Cornish coastal setting and elements of the supernatural - Spriggans and Jack o'Lanterns and the ghost of young miner lost decades before - Haunters of the Deep makes effective use of its distinct local setting.
Finally, John Krish's Out of the Darkness takes us to a Derbyshire village, where a clairvoyant child is called upon by the ghost of an outcast 'plague boy' to lay his troubled spirit to rest. Inspired by the history of the plague village of Eyam, whose villagers isolated themselves in 1665 to prevent the spread of the disease, the film - typically for Krish - introduces notes that resonate more widely and darkly, such as the feral nature of mob mentality and the continuation of patterns of fear through the ages. As the young boy in the present age goes to 'the other side of the mist' and finds himself hounded into the hills in the way that another young boy had been centuries before, a present-day incarnation of the village mob assembles…
Anonymous on 28th August 2013
Author of 299 reviews
For over 30 years the Children's Film Foundation produced quality entertainment for young audiences, employing the cream of British filmmaking talent. Newly transferred from the best available elements held in the BFI National Archive, these much-loved and fondly remembered films finally return to the screen after many years out of distribution in this specially curated DVD release from the BFI. Contains The Man from Nowhere (James Hill, 1974), Haunters of the Deep (Andrew Bogle, 1984) and Out of the Darkness (John Krish, 1985).
The Man from Nowhere is a beautifully told Victorian gothic thriller from acclaimed director James Hill. Young orphan Alice has been invited by her rich uncle to live in his country mansion but she soon finds herself persecuted by the apparent visitations of an unsettling stranger. Who is this ‘man from nowhere’ and just why is he trying to scare her away?
The events in Haunters of the Deep take place along the dramatic Cornish coastline. Intent on re-opening a disused tin mine, an American businessman ignores warnings about the site’s grisly past. It’s left to his bored daughter and local lad, Josh, to attempt a daring rescue when history threatens to repeat itself.
In John Krish’s Out of the Darkness, a Derbyshire village is haunted by a tragic secret from the era of the Black Death. When the Neils decide to buy a run-down cottage they are unaware that it was once inhabited by a plague-stricken family. Soon, the Neil siblings find themselves in the middle of a thrilling adventure, assisted by their friend, Tom, and a local folklore expert (played by Michael Carter – The Keep, Return of the Jedi).
Length: 182 mins
Format: DVD Colour
Released: 23rd September 2013
Cat No: BFIVD969
- Brand new High Definition transfers of all films
- Fully illustrated booklet with essays by The Man from Nowhere writer John Tully, actor Michael Carter and Dr. Rachel Mossley.
“This 4th volume in the series could be better.”
by David1947 on 8th October 2013
This is the fourth volume in BFI's three CFF features on a DVD series. All the previous volumes have featured films remastered from the original 35mm negatives and hav... Read on
This is the fourth volume in BFI's three CFF features on a DVD series. All the previous volumes have featured films remastered from the original 35mm negatives and have looked marvelous. However, on this volume, only The Man From Nowhere (1975) has been remastered in 1.85:1 anamorphic wide screen from the original 35mm film negatives, while both the excellent Haunters of the Deep and the less than excellent Out of the Darkness have been remastered not from the 35mm versions, but from 4 x 3 ratio 16mm versions and it shows. Although they look as good as any 16mm film from the mid-1980s could look (which isn't saying much), they both have a softness of focus about them and look rather grainy. The difference in image quality between the 35mm The Man From Nowhere and the two in 16mm is very noticeable indeed. So what are the BFI saying by doing this? That the original 35mm negatives from Haunters of the Deep and Out of the Darkness no longer exist? And if so, why not, as they are both less than thirty years old. I was expecting a really clear image on the Haunters of the Deep transfer, but as it is, it looks no better than the bootleg copy I've had for years. 4 out of 5 for this one. Hide