Friday, 10 September 2010

come back lucy

Pamela Sykes' 1978 children's drama, Come Back Lucy, (which gets the full background rundown here) is pretty creepy, nightmare-inducing fodder. Even for an era so overloaded with paranormal-flavoured popular culture that it seemed you couldn't move without tripping over sinister megalithic stones, having your house turned upside down by poltergeists, being possessed by demons, accosted by witches or woken up by things that go bump in the night (or ancient astronauts), Come Back Lucy's quaint ghost story has an unnerving uncanniness to it.

It begins in cosy enough, girl's comic style, with old-fashioned orphan Lucy struggling to fit in when she moves in with the loud, large, modern family of her aunt, uncle and cousins, and finding escape in befriending an attic ghost called Alice. Aw. And then it turns all dark and tales of the unexpected. Alice is really a parasitic bully of a ghost preying on Lucy's longing for the past by trying to draw her into her world. And eventually Alice tries to kill Lucy to get her own way, pulling her down through the water in an ice-covered pond.

From the opening titles where Lucy looks into a mirror and turns away, leaving a reflection with no face to Alice's manic laugh, staring eyes and homicidal tendencies, there's no comfort in an ending that suggests that Alice won't return because Lucy doesn't need her any more. Without a horror movie finale in which Alice returns again and again until Lucy is fleeing for her life, her whole family killed by the evil phantom, and Alice is exorcised (with maybe a bit of Linda Blair head-spin and ectoplasm in the process), it remains a nice bit of late afternoon terror that stays with the viewer long, long into the night.

1 comment:

  1. I was about 8 when I first saw Come Back Lucy it has stayed with me all these years. I have my well~read paperback copy I have looked for it periodically on the Web and AT LAST it has arrived. I managed to watch some of the clips that someone has kindly posted it took me back and I had forgotten how scary it was. I was so pleased to have seen it once more I never knew until yesterday that there was a sequel book but very rare!