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DVD: Children's Film Foundation Collection – Scary Stories | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Children's Film Foundation Collection – Scary Stories

DVD: Children's Film Foundation Collection – Scary Stories

Shocks for children of all ages

Alice contemplates the identity of the stranger stalking her in ‘The Man From Nowhere’

A mine haunted by spriguns, an orphan menaced by a stranger who vanishes at will and the shadow cast over a village by the Black Death. Each is the backbone for the three films gathered on Scary Stories, the BFI’s fourth collection drawn from the archives of the Children’s Film Foundation (CFF). Although aimed at children, around an hour long and made with limited budgets, these subtle, well-crafted films sold no one short. All three are packed with shocks – and still pack punches for children of all ages.

The Man From Nowhere (1976) is Victorian-set gothic of the highest order. On arriving to live at her uncle’s isolated mansion, orphan Alice is immediately warned off by a threatening stranger who disappears as suddenly as he appears. In time, she finds all is not as it seems. Haunters of the Deep (1984) is a ghost story set in the mines of Cornwall where Josh and Becky set out to rescue their parents, trapped in an old working planned for reopening. History seems to be – scarily – repeating itself. Best of all is the densely atmospheric Out of the Darkness (1985), where adventure, folklore and memory intertwine for the children newly arrived in a village haunted by memories of the plague. Unusually, no plot device is used as a get-out clause to explain away the supernatural occurences. Out of the Darkness is – after the recent DVD release of the incredible Captured – further proof that director John Krish is an unsung hero of British cinema.

As is usual with the CFF’s films, there is ample opportunity to spot British greats with a lower profile than usual. The Man From Nowhere’s soundtrack music is by John Cameron, Donovan’s musical director. The fine Scottish actor Andrew Keir, as Tregellis in Haunters of the Deep, reprises the intensity of his portrayal of Bernard Quatermass in Quatermass and the Pit. Once again, this is a must.

Visit Kieron Tyler’s blog

Overleaf: watch an extract from The Man from Nowhere

 

‘Out of the Darkness’ is further proof that director John Krish is an unsung hero of British cinema

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