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Monday, 6 October 2008

Halloween Warm-up: Ghostwatch (1992)

Imagine a cross between Most Haunted and The Amityville Horror, broadcast 'as live' on the world's most reputable TV channel.

Cast genuine TV presenters as 'themselves' for that extra air of authenticity and you can only begin to imagine the controversy that was stirred up when this was originally broadcast on Halloween night, 1992.

Looking at it now the age lines are starting to show, the technology is dated and some of the supporting performances (particularly the in-studio parapsychologist and the mother) leave a lot to be desired, but there is no denying the creeping terror that can still be felt as the show gradually descends into supernatural anarchy.

The Early family claims it is being haunted by a ghost they have nicknamed 'Pipes' and the Beeb have come to investigate in a Crimewatch style.

They even have phone-ins, which now (obviously) come across as staged, but to the original audience must have been very convincing.

Sarah Greene wanders around the haunted council house with her crew and the family; Craig Charles is outside interviewing neighbours; Mike Smith is handling the phones back in the studio and Parky is co-ordinating the whole show.

All very 'reality TV'; establishing the template for the live editions of Most Haunted and Dead Famous, but with far more impact than those young upstarts ... mainly because things do actually happen! None of this 'oooh, we've just seen an orb' nonsense.

Like The Haunting, Ghostwatch is frightening not for what you do see (because you don't actually see that much) but what is heard and suggested.

However, be warned, with the crispness of the DVD image it is much easier to catch elusive glimpse of the evil Pipes - reflected in windows, hiding behind curtains etc

Although only a 12-certificate, Ghostwatch is not for those of a nervous disposition.

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