Casting the Runes

1979 | United Kingdom

John Harrington runs across the fields, almost blind with terror. His dog, left behind, whimpering and cowering with fear, can only watch as the creature closes in on his master. Harrington runs for his life but instinct tells him that the creature is gaining on him and he trips, stumbles and falls. When they find him, grown men recoil in horror when they discover that something had broken almost every bone in his body...

A masterful, contemporary reworking of M.R. James' classic ghost story, Casting the Runes is adapted by BAFTA-nominated playwright Clive Exton and directed by long-time adapter of James' most chilling stories - Lawrence Gordon Clark. This play features an unsettling performance from Iain Cuthbertson as the malevolent Karswell and strong central performances from both Edward Petherbridge (as the unlucky Henry Harrington, for whom time is ticking away) and Jan Francis as television producer Prudence Dunning. 

Released commercially in 2007 by Network DVD containing Mr. Humphreys and His Inheritance: Possibly one of the rarest of the still-existing M.R. James adapations, this was made for the ITV Schools slot as a casebook example on how to use music in drama to evoke emotional response and A Pleasant Terror: The Life and Ghosts of M.R. James: A semi-dramatised documentary on the life and works of M.R. James, featuring contributions from Christopher Lee, Ruth Rendell, Jonathan Miller and James' biographer Michael Cox. 

Although ITV produced four black-and-white adaptations of James's ghost stories between 1966 and 1968, no surviving copies are known to exist and this 1979 version survives as an episode of the ITV Playhouse series.

Published on December 3rd, 2018. Network Online.