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MPAA Rating - R

    111 Minutes


Original Release Date:
    Mar 25, 1998

    John Irvin

    Fred Astaire, Melvyn Douglas, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., John Houseman, Craig Wasson

Movie Summary
This disappointing adaptation of Peter Straubs colossal novel discards the authors powerful multi-layered storyline in favor of straightforward spook-house fare. The central plot -- shared by both book and film -- revolves around the four elderly members of the Chowder Society (Fred Astaire, Melvyn Douglas, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and John Houseman), who gather in each others drawing rooms each winter to sip cognac and spin elaborate ghost stories. The four men also share a dark secret far more unsettling than fiction -- a secret which has literally come back to haunt them, as well as their own adult offspring. Each man is visited by a hideous specter bearing the likeness of a young woman (Alice Krige) they accidentally killed 50 years ago when spurning her mischievous sexual advances. While Straubs novel presented a profoundly terrifying adversary -- not a traditional ghost, but an ancient and powerful spirit capable of assuming different identities and forms -- the film resorts to cheap horror convention, with Kriges rotting visage practically saying boo! to various cast members. Fortunately, the luminous Krige is superb in her more earthly incarnation as the woman who attempts to seduce Fairbankss troubled son (Craig Wasson), by far the most effective portion of the film. Aside from superb photography and high production values, the only memorable aspect of the movie comes from the legendary leads, whose professionalism prevents them from embarrassing themselves -- though they are often left with little to do other than clutch their hearts in horror at the proceedings. ~ Cavett Binion, All Movie Guide


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