Souvenirs Of Terror

fiendish film & TV show tie-ins

R. Chetwynd-Hayes – Dominique

Posted by demonik on July 25, 2007

R. Chetwynd-Hayes – Dominique (Universal, 1978)

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This one began life as a short story, What Beckoning Ghost? by Harold Lawlor, published in Weird Tales (July 1948) and reprinted in Kurt Singer’s Ghost Omnibus (Nel/Four Square 1965, 1967). Edward and Valerie Abrahams then screen-played it for Amicus as Dominique, and RCH wrote the novelisation from their script.

In the Singer .. Omnibus, What Beckoning Ghost? runs for 14 closely-typed pages. Narrated by Don Haines, a chauffeur in the employ of widower Ballard Powell. Susan Powell committed suicide the previous year, convinced that she was losing her mind after a series of humiliating events culminating in her apparent theft of her sister-in-law’s bracelet. Now it is her husband who is losing his grip, haunted by Susan who seems set on revenge. But why should she terrorise him? Gradually, Haines learns the doomed Powell’s guilty secret …

Obviously, the story needed fleshing out to sustain a movie, and the Abrahams’ made a number of changes. The action is relocated from America to London in 1977 and all the principle characters have undergone name changes. The Powell’s are now the Ballards, David and Dominique, the chauffer is Tony and Ballard/ David’s sister, barely glimpsed in the original, has a meatier role as Ann, an aspiring sculptress. When the story opens, Dominique is still very much alive, although she’s recently sustained multiple fractures, seemingly as the result of an accidental fall downstairs. Husband David is all concern and understanding, but she already suspects him of trying to drive her insane, possibly in collusion with the domestic staff led by the openly hostile Mrs. Davis. The chauffer, obviously amiable Don Haines’ predecessor, also comes over as a conniving git. Unfortunately, Dominique is suffering from memory lapses, so maybe her suspicions are groundless and the effigy, made up to look like her and swinging from a noose, was maybe only a hanging basket after all. It’s not all bad news though: at least she has Ann to confide in …

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