Tuesday 21 December 2010

"The Innocents" A Vintage Chiller

Martin Scorsese ranks "The Innocents" as one of the eleven scariest films of all time, and I have to admit that for me it's up there with "The Shining" and "The Woman in Black" as one of those films that I have to psych myself up to watch. There are certain scenes that just in the anticipation of seeing again give me the heebie jeebies.

Directed by Jack Clayton, it is a masterly adaptation of the Henry James novella  A Turn of the Screw. Centering around the concerns of a governess that the two children in her charge are being "turned" by the evil spirits that seem to inhabit Bly, the country estate where the plot unfolds with a truly creepy relentlessness.

The scripting credits on this film are a veritable who's who of recent literati, for in addition to James as plot weaver, there is also the hand of Truman Capote who reworks copious amounts of William Archibald's Broadway adaption along with a young John Mortimer who handles the additional scenes.

Here's just a brief excerpt, and as you can see even though the sun is shining and all the traditional Gothic props are conspicuous by their absence, this still makes for decidedly unnerving viewing.

The whole film is available on YouTube in eleven easy pieces - unfortunately somewhat compressed in terms of ratio.


  1. Brrrr... I can't bring myself to watch it! (And I haven't been able to face The Shining again for quite a few years now, especially having worked in a hotel, often on my own late at night!)

    Thought you might be interested in my brother's take on The Innocents:

  2. And all done without a drop of gore or grinding heavy metal. This is how things are done when talent is involved.

  3. I've just been over to Murray's site Garen - It's brilliant!!!

    Many thanks for the heads up and I couldn't agree more with you Mykal - it's the fact that it's psychological rather than physical that makes this stuff so terrifying.

    I'm still not sure I could manage another sitting of the Innocents, although we have got the Woman in Black down for Christmas viewing.

    I'm a little apprehensive about what the big screen treatment due for release next year is going to do with that story.