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CASTING THE RUNES
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“No, no, Miss Dunning. You’ll have to be more clever than that.” With these words, Julian Karswell dismisses Prudence Dunning’s attempts to undo his satanic spell—a curse that terrorized and ultimately killed a writer a decade earlier.
Drawn from one of ghost-story master M.R. James’s most frightening tales, Casting the Runes pits an innocent television producer against a fiendish alchemist. While working on a piece exposing would-be mystics, Dunning brings unwanted attention to the reclusive occultist. In retaliation, he delivers a runic scroll that dooms her to a horrific fate, unless she can devise a way to turn the tables in her favor, at any price.
Iain Cuthbertson (Gorillas in the Mist, Children of the Stones) is thoroughly chilling as Karswell, and Jan Francis (Just Good Friends, Under the Hammer) plays the increasingly desperate Dunning to the hilt in this tense and atmospheric British thriller.
The M.R. James adaptation Mr. Humphreys and His Inheritance (20 min.) and the documentary A Pleasant Terror: The Life & Ghosts of M.R. James (51 min.)
Due to the age of these programs and the improved resolution that DVD provides, you may notice occasional flaws in the image and audio on this DVD presentation that were beyond our ability to correct from the original materials.
Top Customer Reviews
SUBTITLED feature begins with the same beautiful eeriness of early master paintings of Andrew Wyeth, neutrals in winter. The story name comes from an action of writing a spell onto a paper and delivering it to the victim; who then has the option to reverse the spell by personally returning the note.
The novel story of 22 pages is played satanically by Iain Cuthbertson (Painted Lady) as the bad guy; Jan Francis (Dracula) as the beautiful next victim; and tosses in several others who are well known on Brit film soil, like Edward Petherbridge (The Brief Complete Collection).
47 min. modernized 1979 adaptation, since the book appeared prior to TVs and jet travel.
Enjoy it for what it is.
Bonus (all subtitled) includes another film adaptation of M.R. James.
"Mr. Humphreys and His Inheritance" is introduced by the music composer and is a short film (20 min) about a spooky garden maze's secret.
"A Pleasant Terror..." is 51 min. about the author.Read more ›
Now we move on to this 1979 adaptation of this classic tale. It is an ITV Playhouse epsiode and at only 51 minutes is not as satisfying, though one needs to keep in mind that James' story itself isn't very long. This adaptation has been updated and in the process great liberties have been taken with the original storyline. Jan Francis plays TV producer Prudence Dunning, who earns the hatred of occultist Julian Karswell (Iain Cuthbertson) when she portrays his work in an unflattering light on one her productions. She comes to realize that the strange events plaguing her after the show goes on air has something to do with Karswell when she learns that another person had been plagued by mysterious events, a person who has since died under suspicious circumstances. When she learns from the victim's brother that the death might have something to do with a runic note passed to the victim some time before his death, she thinks that she might be a potential victim too.
The story moves along and the female lead does a credible job in her role though Cuthbertson's portrayal of Karswell is nowhere near as malignant or effective as Niall MacGinnis' portrayal in the 1957 movie. No comparison here between the 1957 movie and this short TV play, but I feel that it is quite decent and certainly worth a watch for ardent M.R. James' fans, if only to serve as a basis for comparison and discussion.
This DVD also contains 2 other noteworthy features, i.e.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The 1979 television airing of Casting the Runes was originally broadcast in the UK on ITV Playhouse, a comedy-drama series that ran from 1968 to 1983. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Russell Engebretson
The movie was just 47 min. long! Too expensive for such a short show. Padded with long, boring interview. Acting not great. Would recommend to those interested in the author.Published on June 19, 2014 by Linda L. Scott
The BBC's version of "Casting the Runes" is completely lacking in atmosphere, woodenly acted and accompanied by a very badly scored musical background. Read morePublished on October 22, 2013 by beagle2
I should have paid attention to the date this was made. It is quite old so the technology isn't what I've become accustomed to. Read morePublished on December 28, 2012 by T. Casteleiro