I have @SlasherTrash to thank for this. Or not, as the case may be. For the uninitiated, The Woman in Black is a novel by Susan Hill, which was originally published in 1983. The book was subsequently adapted into a long-running stage play, a number of radio versions, and a film starring Harry Potter. I’ve seen the latter, but the version I am talking about here is the 1989 television film starring Adrian Rawlings and Pauline Moran.
One thing I have only recently discovered, however, is that the screenplay was written by the late Nigel Kneale; he of the wonderfully creepy The Stone Tape, The Quatermass Experiment, The Witches, and the original script for Halloween III: Season of the Witch (though after alterations to his version, Kneale asked for his name to be removed from the credits).
For the record, I am a huge fan of ghost stories. I adore Ghost Stories for Christmas and make an effort to watch a number of these during the festive season. Something about the works of M.R. James make the hairs on the back of my next stand up in a way that more contemporary ghostly tales simply do not. E.F. Benson’s ghostly tales have a similar effect. With Ghost Stories for Christmas, much with a number of folk horror films – The Blood on Satan’s Claw, etc., I find the rurality and remoteness unsettling. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but whenever I find myself walking in the fields near where I live (extremely rarely with two children!), I can’t help the feeling that I’m being observed, even though I am quite alone. It’s as if flora and fauna are watching. There’s a sense of history to the land that has seen so much; war, famine, fire and flood – the scars of which remain forever indelibly etched in the earth. And the ghosts shall forever wander the land. Anyway, I digress…
Why haven’t I seen The Woman in Black? My excuse is a a slim one. I read the book a long time ago, I’ve seen the more recent Hammer version (always keen to support Hammer!), but the truth is this version was unknown to me until a couple of years ago and I simply haven’t managed to get around to it. It’s certainly on my list to watch this Christmas and I shall wait until then as ghost stories are best served next with the curtains drawn, a glass of wine, and just the twinkle of lights dancing mischievously against the walls of the room.