Sunday 5 February 2023

The Ice House

Wyrd Britain reviews 'The Ice House' from the BBC's  'A Ghost Story for Christmas'.
Directed by Derek Lister and screened on Christmas Day 1978, 'The Ice House' was the last entrry in the original run of 8 of 'A Ghost Story for Christmas'. It was the second to feature a wholly original story - following 'Stigma' from the previous year - and was written by John Griffith Bowen who had written a previous G.S for C 'The Treasure of Abbot Thomas' and who had also written / would write several other Wyrd Britain favourites 'Robin Redbreast' and 'A Photograph' for BBC1's Play for Today and 'A Woman Sobbing' for BBC2's Dead of Night.

Taking influence from the M.R. James stories that preceded it Bowen's story features a man - an academic, possibly a psychiatrist - out of place, in this instance newly divorced Paul (John Stride) at a health spa run by incestuous siblings Clovis (Geoffrey Burridge) and Jessica (Elizabeth Romilly), but that's where the similarities end.  

Wyrd Britain reviews 'The Ice House' from the BBC's  'A Ghost Story for Christmas'.
Poorly received on it's original transmission 'The Ice House' has fared badly over the years often regarded as the weakest of the 8 but for me I think it deserves reconsideration. As a ghost story it's a dead loss - there are none - and it probably should never have been thought of as such but with an ambiguous narative that owes far more to the strange stories of Robert Aickman than it does to Eton's master of the ghostly tale it's a subtly creepy and claustrophobic delight filled with a subdued, sensuous sexuality that rewards repeat viewings.



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