How About Some Alternative Festive Chills This Year?

Whether you’re in the mood for a classic film, a romantic comedy set during the holiday season, or a funny kids’ flick to get your whole family in the holiday spirit, there are dozens of Christmas movie options and sappy specials out there for you — even if you’re tired of watching this year’s Hallmark Christmas movies.

How about a handful of lesser known seasonal stories, but with a spooky twist?

Victorian Fancies – the nightmares of MR James

Although we can’t explain why ghosts can’t seem to let go of the Victorian era, we’ve long savored TV adaptations of MR James ‘antiquarian’ ghost stories that played as part of ‘Ghost Stories for Christmas‘ on BBC2 in the 70s and have since often been repeated, occasionally remade or hitherto unadapted stories produced.



Upcoming this Christmas – St Martin’s Close, starring Peter (Doctor Who) Capaldi:

What makes them so effective?

In an interview with the New Statesmen about how to write the perfect ghost story Mark Gatiss tells Robin Ince about his love of MR James.

Whereas the manifestation of the monster often takes the form of the folklore idea of the vagina dentata – a terrible moment of putting your hand under the pillow and finding something wet and hairy with teeth


To my mind 1971’s The Stalls of Barchester is one of creepiest adaptations….  Watch the whole thing below.



And of course the late Jonathan Miller directed a memorable version of James’ ‘Oh Whistle & I’ll Come to You‘ back in 1968, remade less effectively in 2010 with the late John Hurt replacing Michael Hordern in the lead role.



James’ Casting the Runes was brought to the screen in as classic 1957 cult horror picture Night/Curse of the Demon. Down-on-his-luck at this point in his career star Dana Andrews (Laura) was apparently zonked during much of the filming.



Stephen Arnell

Culture Comment Content Provider. Portrait courtesy of artist Darren Coffield. 'Non satis me tempo'