Studio: British Film Institute
Length: 182 mins
Region: Region 0
Released: 23 September 2013
Cat No: BFIVD969
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CFF Collection: Scary Stories
Triple bill of British movies produced by the Children’s Film Foundation. In ’The Man from Nowhere’ (1976), a young girl goes to stay at... Read More
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…