Ghost Story (1981)

8.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Gothic horror, all-star cast

Weak ending

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Ghost Story

Studio:  Universal Pictures

Genre(s):  Horror

Release Date(s):  December 16, 1981

MPAA Rating:  R


I need some moisturizer!

The Chowder Society likes to get together to tell ghost stories, but they are dealing with real horror.  When Edward Wanderley (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.) learns his son has died under mysterious circumstances, he realizes a past crime might have come back to haunt the Chowder Society.  Now, a mysterious woman (Alice Krige) is appearing to the members as they die horrible deaths.  Wanderley’s other son Don (Craig Wasson) has returned to dive into his father’s past and cover what is killing the members of the Chowder Society before it comes after him as well.


Heard any good stories?

Directed by John Irvin, Ghost Story is an adaptation of the 1979 best-selling horror novel by Peter Straub.  The movie was released to rather strong reviews and a big box office return.

I love a classic ghost story, and Ghost Story sets out to recreate a classic tale.  With an evil spirit and a hidden crime, Ghost Story feels like a tale of old horror…and the movie does a pretty good job doing it.


Guys…you’re not being very good friends!

I like the set-up and  framework of the film with the telling of ghost stories and the weird, unexplained (shocking) opening death of David with his fall from the window.  The unwrapping of the tale takes a while and you get a number of mini-stories until the main tale Eva Galli’s death is revealed in a flashback story.  The final showdown with Eva is a little anticlimactic, but I often found a lot of ghost stories really were.

The cast is stellar and some of the actors last roles.  Fred Astaire, Melvyn Douglas, and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. never acted in films again (Melvyn Douglas died before the film’s release).  Alice Krige stars as the mysterious Eva/Alma and Patricia Neal played the wife of Fred Astaire.  Craig Wasson also plays a duel role as both the ill-fated David and his brother Don.


Nothing is more beautiful than a rotting bride

The movie is very atmospheric.  The fill feel a lot like a Hammer horror film and even has some of that ‘70s style of graphic gore with ghost of Eva Galli.  With more of a classical style of horror film it made the opening scene all the more shocking with unexpected full frontal nudity in the window fall.

Ghost Story is a pretty enjoyable horror film with a classic feel, but with some story problems.  Halloween had been out a couple years and the horror world was about to turn into a world dominated by slashers.  It is refreshing to have a classic horror movie from a period of time where there are few genuine ghost stories.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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