The chowder society, a group of elderly gentlemen played by screen legends FRED ASTAIRE, MELVYN DOUGLAS, DOUGLAS FAIRBANKS JR. and JOHN HOUSEMAN (THE FOG), gather on occasion to spook each other out with ghost stories. All of its members are beginning to not only have horrific dreams but also vivid visitations from a female spirit. The groups actual function may be for its members to silently commiserate about a dastardly deed they themselves committed long ago. The apparition is apparently feeding off their guilt while seeking vengeance for this unmentionable act. The son of one of its members (ELM STREET 3’s CRAIG WASSON) has hands-on knowledge of the ghost’s vendetta, not only because she killed his twin sibling but because he’s been playing dirty bath tub games with her himself. This movie is a real heartbreaker. It has elements that are absolutely sublime, like it’s gorgeous cinematography, bombastic BERNARD HERMAN-like score, not to mention it’s trump card, an other worldly performance by ALICE KRIGE (SILENT HILL), and yet every time it should be leaping, it frustratingly pulls back on the reigns. Based on PETER STRAUB’S novel, arguably one of the best modern supernatural tales in existence, one expects more. Sadly the script not only bites off more than it can chew but out of exhaustion, settles for gnawing on the plate rather than the meal. Ambiance goes a long way and there are some real chills to be found here, but you do have to wade through several very ineffective scare scenes as well. Sloppy editing, characters leaping toward the camera, and poorly orchestrated prat falls abound. But if loving GHOST STORY is wrong, I don’t want to be right. It’s got some major flaws, but every time I see FAIRBANKS take his fateful walk toward the town bridge through a blanket of all encompassing snow I’m in my happy place. Did I mention the gorgeous matte work of ALBERT WITLOCK is like a gift from God? Maybe when I’m dead I’ll come back to haunt the script writer and editor and I’ll finally feel fulfilled.
- WASSON‘s full frontal skyscraper fall
- When they were younger the chowderheads were so douche-y that one of them had to be played by KEN OLIN
- DICK SMITH’s awesome effects, though sometimes sloppily incorporated, consistently break the tedium
- FRED ASTAIRE carries a blade and he ain’t afraid to use it!