Year:  1979

Movie / TV:   ITV Playhouse - Casting the Runes

Director:  Lawrence Gordon Clark

Others in the Cast:  Iain Cuthbertson, Jan Francis, Bernard Gallagher, Joanna Dunham, Christopher Good, Patricia Shakesby, David Calder, Jane Lowe, Alan Downer, Clifford Parrish, Christine Buckley, Abdul Ali, Simon Prebble

Plot summary:  In a field somewhere in Yorkshire, John Harrington is out walking his dog, when he becomes aware of something following him, fleeing in terror, he is struck dead. Years later, a local television producer, Prudence Dunning has just completed a documentary about the occult, including a critique of the mystic, Julian Karswell. Looking over the print of the film after broadcast, she discovers a mysterious reference to John Harrington has appeared on the tape, asking around she discovers that John Harrington had criticised Karswell, a month before his still unattributed death. Summary and more details here

Peth’s roleHenry Harrington

ReviewsFeaturing an unsettling performance from Iain Cuthbertson (Danger UXB) as the malevolent Karswell, and strong central performances from both Edward Petherbridge (The Brief) and Jan Francis (Bad Girls), this title is a must-have for all fans of suspense and horror.  - MovieMail

Starring Jan Francis and Ian Cuthbertson, this is a rather clumsy attempt to make the spooky original relevant to the modern world. Francis plays TV producer Prudence Dunning, caught up in the world of occultist Julian Karswell (Cuthbertson). The neatest conceit here (never really explained) comes when unexplained frames are somehow inserted into her completed documentary. - Total Scifi Online

Made for Yorkshire Television, the production has all the trademarks of televised plays from the seventies, what with the amplified sounds made by closing doors and rustling sheets and the intimacy of videotape rather than film. The script was a little repetitive in places, as characters told other characters things we had already heard, and there were one or two giggles at the fashions, especially a night-dress purchased from 'Nightowls'. This was of the night-shirt variety, brushed nylon, in red with white ribbon on the bodice. One of the cast held it up and said, "Oh, it's lovely," which prompted a loud laugh. It is in this night-dress that the Jan Francis character is destined to undergo what should be a terrifying experience. Karswell has a dolls' house set up to resemble the rooms in the girl's flat and places a spider on the bed. The hapless Jan hears a noise which has her searching through the flat, then returns to bed only to be confronted by a large, rubbery yellow arachnid. Clearly spiders were not the special effects department's forte, and they would have done well to have avoided this one! Again, what should have been a scary moment was spoiled, and it couldn't compare with the hairy-mouthed thing under the pillow from James's story.

Despite these shortcomings, the production does work fairly well, and Iain Cuthbertson is wonderfully creepy as a rather jolly Karswell. The snowy, outdoor scenes provide a suitably atmospheric background and there is a genuinely shuddery moment at Karswell's residence, which does not appear in the original tale. - Ghosts & Scholars

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