Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Television review: Ghosts of Hollywood

This is another brief review which appeared in the Newsletter of the Society for Psychical Research, in 1989. Such programming is ubiquitous now but was much rarer back then. I seem to have been mildly scandalised that the programme was so light-weight, but I expect such naivety was soon dispelled on further exposure to the genre.

SPR Newsletter No 31, October 1989, p.31.

Ghosts of Hollywood (ITV, 28/8/89): A Review

The main interest of this look at ghosts of Hollywood (on and off celluloid) was the old film clips. The serious element was lightweight, despite the presence of the oddly-termed “psychic researchers”, a CSICOP representative and (usually celebrity) subjects of hauntings thrown in to leaven the mix.

There were some interesting moments: A mysterious light captured on film in a Longleat corridor (the term “Hollywood” liberally interpreted!); the strange fogging of the middle frames in a roll of film; and photographs showing nasty-looking wounds to the people who inspired The Exorcist and The Entity. I would have liked to know more about all these. The rest was mostly unsubstantiated assertion.

Particularly unsatisfactory was the section on The Amityville Horror, which could have presented the case against the Lutzes much more forcefully (the Amityville episode is a horror, but not in the sense usually intended). The useful bits in this programme seemed to be dropped in at intervals, a pity, as examining Hollywood ghosts was a good idea. The result was, like the “medium” it was based on, two-dimensional.