Kingsley Amis’ tale of sex and ghosts…
First broadcast in 1990, this adaptation of Kingsley Amis’ 1969 novel stars Albert Finney, perfectly cast as lecherous landlord Maurice Allington, whose investigations into the paranormal go side by side with his attempts to bed anything female that moves near him.
Malcolm Bradbury’s script gives appropriate weight to both sides of Allington’s character (and his alcoholic problems which may have more effect on them than he would like to admit), so the comedy bits really are funny, and the spooky bits occasionally have a real chill to them. It opens with a scene that could (and indeed does often) appear in many horror films, as a woman goes through a wood and is attacked by the trees themselves… but unlike most horror movies, it then cuts to Finney’s character washing up! There’s a lot of build-up to a ménage a trois featuring Finney, Linda Marlowe and Sarah Berger (with results that are rather predictable) and assorted sex scenes that feel like standard BBC for the time.
The ghostly side is on the whole done well – the occasional not-so-special effect aside – and it’s helped by strong sound design and a BAFTA winning music score, alongside a creepy performance from Michael Culver as the ghost of child murderer Michael Underhill.
Verdict: It’s not one of the absolute classic BBC ghost stories but certainly one that will provide a good diversion on a dark autumn night… 7/10