This unusual and clever thriller delves into the bizarre world of the supernatural with Alan Bates playing Charles Crossley – a man with a brilliant if unbalanced mind whose power over others is undoubted and horrifying.
We first see Crossley as an inmate of an insane asylum where he discloses that – having spent years studying magic with the aborigines in Australia – he possesses the primaeval power of “The Shout” (an impossibly loud yell that kills anyone within hearing distance).
He then recounts his life history to a visitor called Robert Graves (Tim Curry) who has arrived to act as a scorekeeper for a cricket match between the asylum inmates and the local villagers.
Against this backdrop of white flannels and green summer grass, Crossley’s story is incongruous and, ultimately, terrifying.
A frequently nude Susannah York plays Rachel, the wife of mild-mannered composer and local church organist Anthony Fielding (John Hurt), both of whom become involved in Crossley’s very bizarre happenings.
At first, Rachel distrusts him but later falls under his demonic spell.
Crossley literally takes over the house as he moves in and takes to Rachel’s bed. Anthony recognises the power the intruder has, and he sets out to find its source.
It’s anybody’s guess what the film actually means, but it did win a Jury Prize at Cannes in 1978. The cricket, by the way, is surprisingly accurate.
The “shout” scenes were filmed in the Braunton Burrows, one of the largest sand dune systems in Britain, which reach two thousand acres inland from the North Devon coastline. The cricket match and asylum exteriors were filmed at Hartland Abbey in Devon.
The film was innovatively scored by Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford from the prog rock band Genesis.
Chief Medical Officer
Fielder in cowpat
Harry the Shepherd