‘The Halfway House,’ directed by Basil Dearden

Movie, 1944 A good looking, well-paced hodgepodge of a film. Ostensibly, this is a mystery with a supernatural twist, although there’s plenty of romance, dashes of family saga, comedy and a few odd scenes, which don’t seem to add much to the plot. The film ploughs in a huge chunk of propaganda in at the end, just for good measure. For all this, the positive … Continue reading ‘The Halfway House,’ directed by Basil Dearden

‘The Mist in the Mirror,’ by Susan Hill

Novel, 1992 Old-fashioned, but very effective ghost story, written in an almost ‘period tense,’ with a passed-on text from a mysterious protagonist and an array of phantom children, spooky characters, snowfall, spectres and some quite wonderful suspense. A book which may demand that its reader get in the mood and give themselves over to the generic thrills on show. Those who enjoy ghost stories should … Continue reading ‘The Mist in the Mirror,’ by Susan Hill

“The House in Marsh Road”, directed by Montgomery Tully

Movie, 1960 B-movie and British chiller-thriller, and a story of a poltergeist, infidelity, drunkenness, revenge and tragedy. While tame by any standards, this is an enjoyable film with some good atmosphere generated by moody shots, gloomy interiors and pleasingly over-the-top music. Hardly a classic, but effective and entertaining into the bargain, with an engagingly quirky premise and an opening which portrays a culture of living … Continue reading “The House in Marsh Road”, directed by Montgomery Tully

"Collected Ghost Stories", by MR James

Fiction, 1931 Supernatural tales, most of which stick close to established formulae (mysterious books and texts, eerie buildings) and can merge and blend a little into each other, but pepped up here and there with either humorous touches or the appearance and meta-fictional disruption of a narrator barrelling into proceedings. These are therefore stories to be enjoyed over a long period of time. More often … Continue reading "Collected Ghost Stories", by MR James

"The Woman in Black", by Susan Hill

Novel, 1992 Effective ghost story, packing suspense and creating an evocative, oppressive atmosphere. Much of this is probably attributable to the first person narrative, taking the reader into a world which is written in what appears to be very deliberately ‘olde worlde’, with a groaning bucket load of mist, marshes, haunted houses and phantoms. While the style occasionally threatens the power of the narrative, in … Continue reading "The Woman in Black", by Susan Hill

"The Sundial", by Shirley Jackson

Novel, 1958 A book which roars out of the traps, mixing Gothic sensibilities with dark humour, and which builds an intensity through looking at a family house whose inhabitants believe they’re going to be saved from purgatory. This is an offbeat and excellent idea for the narrative, which in the main, trips along nicely, although occasionally perhaps gets a little tongue tied and clumsy in … Continue reading "The Sundial", by Shirley Jackson