How Was It For You? (The Haunted Airman)

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Hart Reaver
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How Was It For You? (The Haunted Airman)

Post by Hart Reaver » Wed 1 Nov, 2006 09:53:22

How thrilling to see the words "based on the story by Dennis Wheatley" on TV screens again, but ultimately how very disappointing an adaptation. The Haunting of Toby Jugg, like much of DW's output, is a gift to filmmakers interested in suspense and atmosphere; what we had here was a sluggish, ponderous, pale imitation of a cracking good read. And with three good actors in the lead roles, a decent budget and a talented film crew, what a wasted opportunity. I won't go into detail about how much was changed from the book - it differed so much, you get the feeling had DW been around he might have asked for his name to be removed, from fear of confusing people - you kind of expect that, but what was that ending all about? True, there were a modicum of thrills, but these were few and far between, and the whole thing had the feel of a run-through, rather than the finished article. I hope other people enjoyed it more than me, so it doesn't put anyone off trying to adapt DW in the future. I'm off now, to watch Hammer's Devil Rides Out again, to see how it can be done. :twisted:
Endure or escape

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Post by Nick » Wed 1 Nov, 2006 11:03:59

What a disappointment! DW would have been furious. The whole thing was reminiscent of a 1970's 'Tales of the unexpected' What on earth was the point of all the anti war dialogue and the inference that as Toby Jugg was already a killer he could be easily dominated by a Satanist and forced to kill his 'Aunt' while attempting to rape her. WHAT! At least ten minutes of valuable screen time was wasted in long ponderous shots of Jugg staring miserably out of a selection of windows at nothing in particular, the spiders were present but unexplained, Helmut (sorry Hal) was about as evil as Postman Pat, and the inmates evil cackleing confused things even more. What was the point of the dead returning to tell Jugg what a great time they were having on the other side?
The whole thing was a wasted opportunity. None of the youngsters who were attracted to the show are likely to seek out the book and read it on this showing.
I'll follow Harts example and go and watch DRO again to get over my bad temper. God bless the BBC don't we just love 'em. I ought to know I work for the buggers.

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Post by maisonvivante » Wed 1 Nov, 2006 20:57:21

I'm in the U.S., so I haven't seen this program, but it doesn't sound like I have missed much. I'm actually amazed. The book is so easily adaptable to a suspenseful supernatural thriller! I'm shocked they dropped the ball. I almost get the sense (from your reviews) that the BBC was sort of embarassed by the more overt supernatural elements of the novel.

Perhaps this should have been a feature film production? I'm at a loss to understand why Wheatley's work seems to be ignored in the film world. It's so ripe for adaptation, particularly in light of recent supernatural or fantasy films. Perhaps the powers-that-be never crack open a book?

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Post by Bob Rothwell » Wed 1 Nov, 2006 21:48:17

Oh maisonvivante, we have been lobbying the film/TV industry for some time now! The amazing thing is that everyone I speak to in the industry all agree that DW is the ideal material for filming/TV, but regrettably the film-makers no longer have the say. We need a strong champion based in the City (UK for Wall Street). I can no longer count on two hands the writers/producers who have come to me for added bits of advice re one or other of DW's novels, but without exception have not managed to get past the 'suits'.

I guess this is my main reason for the bitter disappointment re last nights BBC showing - done properly we would almost certainly have had a DW revival on our hands.

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Post by maisonvivante » Thu 2 Nov, 2006 03:40:56

Bob, that's really too bad. I actually live outside of Los Angeles, and my partner works in the entertainment industry in Hollywood. He was (believe it or not!) casually working on a "Toby Jugg" script (very faithful to the novel) when we got the news that BBC had beaten us to the punch. We were annoyed, but, like you, we thought that at least this would open doors to other possible Wheatley adaptations. Sadly, from the reviews, this doesn't seem the case.

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Post by Bob Rothwell » Thu 2 Nov, 2006 15:18:12

maisonvivante, please, please do tell your partner to continue with his project! As you will have gathered the BBC came nowhere near beating him to the punch.

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Post by Garry Holmes » Sat 11 Nov, 2006 12:11:55

Can anyone help? I set the recorder to tape an adaption of a Dennis Wheatley novel, but the machine seems to have recorded some strange psychological thriller about a WWII flier! Can anyone explain this mechanical failure?

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Post by Bob Rothwell » Sat 11 Nov, 2006 16:00:55

Seems to be a transmission fault Gary. Unfortunately it appears that the fault re-occurs on numerous occasions on the same channel. I just hope it isn't like a virus and spreads to terrestrial channels (or any future planned productions!).

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Post by Steve Whatley » Sun 5 Jul, 2009 14:08:25

I feel I should apologise even for bringing this up again, but recently seeing a number of DVDs of The Haunted Airman for sale on e-bay has reminded me just how awful this travesty of a production really was.

I recall my excitement before the original broadcast, which I must have conveyed to my parents, for they sat down to watch it at the same time as me. Then came my dismay as the adaptation (or 'based on' version) strayed further and further from the book, and finally absolute horror (but not the right sort of horror) at the rape scene which ended the miserable effort. I was accutely embarrassed even though my parents were watching in a different room from me(!), and I immediately rushed 'next door' to announce to them that "that scene wasn't in the book".

I don't know whether the DVD is a BBC release, but I find it hard to believe that any company could be so misguided as to think that anyone will want to buy the thing. But I suppose if they've never seen it, and they spot DW's name on the case (if it's there), they might be duped into thinking it is worth paying for.

I wouldn't even consider buying one for the sake of 'completeness' of my collection (not that it's anywhere near complete, but you know what I mean), and I trust that all our other Library 'members' will also be steering well clear of a thing of which DW himself - as others have rightly intimated - would have been justifiably horrified.

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Post by Jim » Tue 7 Jul, 2009 01:03:07

Steve Whatley wrote:I feel I should apologise even for bringing this up again, but recently seeing a number of DVDs of The Haunted Airman for sale on e-bay has reminded me just how awful this travesty of a production really was.
I think the current attraction is the presence of actor Robert Pattinson, of Twilight fame...

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Post by Steve Whatley » Tue 7 Jul, 2009 11:30:23

Jim, I'll take your word for it; I think I've heard of Twilight, but I've certainly never seen it and know nothing about it.

I remember The Twilight Zone, but think it was over-rated. I always preferred The Outer Limits, even if some of the plots were outrageous, and some of the aliens ridiculous. I still remember it fondly.

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Post by Jim » Sun 19 Jul, 2009 00:02:23

Steve Whatley wrote:Jim, I'll take your word for it; I think I've heard of Twilight, but I've certainly never seen it and know nothing about it.
So great is Pattinson's perceived appeal that the DVD is being issued in the U.S. in October! (I just learned this from Amazon...)

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Post by Charles » Fri 23 Oct, 2009 22:50:00

None of us may be huge fans of the 2006 production, but it has apparently sold 25,000 copies.

Now if a bad rendition of a DW novel can sell that many DVDs, think how many DVDs a good rendition might sell ...

I note what Jim says about its appeal being in no small part due to the appearance of Robert Pattinson (of whom I had never heard before Jim's post), but that just means a good star is needed for the next "proper" DW movie ...

Slowly but surely DW's profile is rising ....

All best as always !
Charles

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Post by Garry Holmes » Sat 24 Oct, 2009 23:04:13

I read the IMDB page for THE HAUNTED AIRMAN, and the comments on the forum suggest that any interest in the production is purely down to Pattinson. Even some of his more fanatical fans don't like the movie, though. Still, it is making money for the BBC, so maybe they'll do another one soon. We could see a version of the early chapters of THEY USED DARK FORCES. They'll probably remove Gregory Sallust, Malacou, Erika, Magic and the WWII setting. They could call it THE HAUNTED SPY!

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Post by Alan » Sat 14 Nov, 2015 16:00:07

Have just (belatedly) watched this movie in its entirety. What a wasted opportunity - it could have been a cracker of a movie. Instead, all I can do is echo what Hart Reaver says in the first post in this thread. So sad!

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