Picks and Pans Review: Ghost Story

updated 01/11/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/11/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

All too soon this film gives up the ghost that is its main attraction and lets you know who is haunting four apparently likable codgers—Fred Astaire, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., John Houseman and the late Melvyn Douglas—and why. After that, the best thing to do is admire those wonderful old troupers, though you expect Houseman to finish every speech with a sales pitch for a brokerage house or a car. The young South African actress who plays the mean-spirited spirit, Alice Krige, is undeniably intriguing. She ranges from a zaftig voluptuary, who makes apparitions in something less than a sheet, to a skin-and-bones specter. But director John (The Dogs of War) Irvin doesn't wring much tension from Peter Straub's best-seller, and the ending is less scary than sickening. (R)

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