A Wonderfully Scary Little Movie

M.R. James was the best ghost story writer of all time, and among his very best stories is Oh, Whistle and I’ll Come to You, My Lad. It’s been published innumerable times in various anthologies.

What’s it about? Well, I don’t want to spoil it for you. Let’s just say it’s one of the scariest ghost stories ever written.

You can also watch it on youtube. Whistle and I’ll Come to You is a 40-minute adaptation of the story, made in 1968. It stars Michael Hordern (he plays Marley in the famous Alistair Sim version of “A Christmas Carol,” Scrooge) as a university professor on a short vacation by the sea.

Hordern gives us a character who is the epitome of the academic fat-head–there’s no fool like an intellectual fool–so in love with his supposed intelligence, so convinced of his vast superiority over everybody else, that he can’t even talk straight. To display his own cleverness, he twists and mangles every straightforward question put to him by anyone.

His vanity leaves him totally defenseless against the horror that is to come.

On one of his rambles, he finds an old grave partially exposed by erosion, and in it he finds some kind of metal cylinder. When he cleans it, he discovers it’s a whistle with a Latin inscription on it that says, “Who is this that is coming?” So of course he blows the whistle, and finds out.

I mustn’t tell you any more of the plot. If you enjoy a really good scare, you gotta see this!

It’s a short film, beautifully shot in black and white. One version has a very nice music track added by a fan. The original does not. Both are excellent.

By the way, there’s no sex, no blood ‘n’ guts, no cussin’ and swearing, no bodies flying all over the place.

It’s a very quiet little film, and it will creep you out but good.

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