The film adap­ta­tion of Ghost Story is a bit con­tro­ver­sial in hor­ror cir­cles — and like any con­tro­ver­sial pro­duc­tion, it has an inter­est­ing sto­ry behind it. A lot of the details of that sto­ry have lain dor­mant for years but thank­ful­ly Scream Factory has pro­duced a reis­sue of the film for the blu-ray mar­ket that digs into those details.

GhosSt-bluThings start with an excel­lent trans­fer of a tricky title: Ghost Story was shot in a fre­quent­ly glossy style by the great Jack Cardiff and also fea­tures a ton of opti­cal effects that cre­ate the film’s win­try set­ting. The trans­fer used here keeps up with all the film’s visu­al com­plex­i­ties, respect­ing the film’s fre­quent­ly soft look while wring­ing out a lev­el of detail and depth that would have been unimag­in­able in its stan­dard-def incar­na­tions. The audio part of the trans­fer sticks to its orig­i­nal mono mix but it gets a loss­less pre­sen­ta­tion that adds a lot of punch, par­tic­u­lar­ly to Philippe Sarde’s dra­mat­ic musi­cal score.

Scream Factory has also packed the disc out with a spe­cial edition’s worth of extras. The first is a solo com­men­tary track by direc­tor John Irvin. He offers a low-key but infor­ma­tive stream of com­ments, cov­er­ing how he became involved with the project and warm mem­o­ries of his old–GhosSt-05Hollywood lead­ing men. More inter­est­ing­ly, he explains the the­me he built the film around is men’s fear of wom­en, which goes a long way towards explain­ing the film’s changes to the novel’s cen­tral ele­ments and themes.

Next up are a quar­tet of fea­turettes. The first is a near­ly 40-min­ute ses­sion with nov­el­ist Peter Straub, who describes his cre­ative process and the tech­ni­cal aspects of it, includ­ing an inter­est­ing bit where he dis­cuss­es the influ­ence of jazz on his writ­ing. His var­i­ous points are bro­ken up by moments where he reads excerpts from Ghost Story.

Development” edits togeth­er two sit­downs with pro­duc­er Burt Weissbourd and Lawrence D. Cohen. Weissbourd gives some inter­est­ing insights into how he worked with his writ­ers and direc­tors dur­ing the pro­duc­tion process and reveals why he ulti­mate­ly left the film busi­ness. Cohen reveals the moti­va­tions in how and why he pared down the source nov­el and is frank about its short­com­ings. He also talks about how Irvin’s real­ist approach softeGhosSt-06ned the super­nat­u­ral ele­ments of the fin­ished pro­duct. Both have inter­est­ing things to say but Cohen is par­tic­u­lar­ly live­ly and inci­sive.

The third piece is a 29-min­ute inter­view with Alice Krige, who tells the sto­ry of her involve­ment in the film in a classy and intel­li­gent man­ner. She talks about the whirl­wind nature of work­ing in Hollywood for the first time, prais­ing the kind­ness of her clas­sic Hollywood co-stars, reveal­ing her process for devel­op­ing the char­ac­ter and speak­ing frankly about the chal­lenge of doing the film’s nude sce­nes. She’s a plea­sure to lis­ten to.

The fiGhosSt-07nal piece is an inter­view with visu­al effects pho­tog­ra­pher Bill Taylor. He reveals that cre­at­ing the film’s snowy set­tings was the film’s biggest chal­lenge and also gives a detailed expla­na­tion of a few key visu­al effects. He has a great respect for his col­lab­o­ra­tors and tells warm anec­dotes about Albert Whitlock, who was his men­tor, and Jack Cardiff.

The disc is round­ed out by a selec­tion of pro­mo­tion­al mate­ri­al. A the­atri­cal trail­er and t.v. spot sell the spook­i­ness and star-pow­er of the film effec­tive­ly, with the the­atri­cal spot fea­tur­ing some inven­tive cross-cut­ting and sound edit­ing. A pair of radio spots use the same eerie style of GhosSt-08nar­ra­tion as the trail­ers, adding some new mate­ri­al about the con­cept of fear. Finally, an ani­mat­ed pho­to gallery offers near­ly nine min­utes’ worth of stills, lob­by cards, behind-the-sce­nes pho­tos and pro­mo­tion­al pic­tures.

In short, this disc of Ghost Story is a fine spe­cial edi­tion that offers a strong trans­fer and a rich set of sup­ple­ments that give the view­er an idea of the com­plex­i­ty involved in bring­ing the nov­el to the big screen.

To read Schlockmania’s film review of Ghost Story, click here.