Just like Showdown In Little Tokyo (1991), the blu-ray of which I reviewed this past summer, The Green Man is another “memory movie,” in this case, “memory mini-series,” that came out in 1991 that should by all accounts remind me of this girl I was dating, but it doesn’t. At least not directly. IMDB says it debuted here in the states June of that year, and what I can sort of recall is being in my bedroom and either hanging posters or pictures, or taking them down when it was on. However, there is a chance I may be confusing it with another memory I have of a couple of years earlier when my best friend from high school went into the army after which I decided to finally take down all the Dungeons & Dragons pictures I had up.
But I can’t for the life of me remember what it was I was putting up on my walls back in summer of ’91 when The Green Man was airing. I also have this vague notion it was airing in the late afternoon and I was watching it as I hung these photos. I wish I could remember why my girlfriend wasn’t with me too. This was at the height of our relationship and if it was the afternoon, any afternoon, we were together somewhere doing something, but apparently not this day. On the other hand I have a very vague memory of possibly mentioning the mini-series to her the next day and telling her how much I liked it, but I can’t be certain if that actually happened.
What struck me as unique about this adaptation of Kingley Amis’ 1969 novel was the almost out of place gory prologue and the sexual nature of the story. Not that I’m put off by these two things, it’s just movies that are gory and/or have some kind of explicit or even fleeting moments of nudity and/or sex are typically reserved for cable, more so back then than today. This is decades before the advent of BBC America here in the states where most UK movies and shows end up airing. Back in the early 90s anything made for TV in the UK that got ported over here was shown on PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) or the A&E (Arts & Entertainment) channel, though I don’t know if A&E was around back then. I’m going to say it was a PBS airing and PBS does not in any way shape or form air anything not palatable for the entire family, but that 16th century prologue with that woman wondering the woods at night and getting bloodily skewed by sentient trees more suited for an Evil Dead movie certainly got my attention.
Since The Green Man is a 3-part serial I also can’t remember if PBS aired the whole thing on one night or broke it up across several, at any rate when it was all done I found myself pleasantly entertained by it. It also helped that Albert Finney headlined it and that may have been the sole reason I wanted to check it out in the first place. Wolfen (1981) and Looker (1981) are my two favorite Finney movies.
(Note—as I write this review, I’ll be damned, I just happened to come upon a 1991 review of The Green Man on the web and I stand corrected, it aired on A&E on a Sunday night at 9pm! Making that memory of a late afternoon viewing all wrong. And apparently all three parts (3-hours with commercials) were aired on that one night too! Fantastic find! Too bad it couldn’t tell me what I was hanging on those walls or why my girlfriend wasn’t with me!)
I’ve never read the novel so I can’t tell you how different it is from the mini-series or if one is better than the other. All I can tell her for certain is I enjoyed this TV adaptation and have been dying to get it on disc in some form for decades.
Okay, so, what’s The Green Man about?
In the 16th century there lived a Dr. Thomas Underhill (Michael Culver) who liked under age chicks and dabbled in alchemy. He combined them both and used his alchemic powers to seduce them. So basically he was a pedophile. He was also married. And this wife met a terrible end (the aforementioned prologue) one night, which he arranged through occult means. After his death his ghost, and the ghost of his wife, are rumored to haunt this Inn called, The Green Man.
Cut to modern day (circa 1990) Britain where we meet the owner of The Green Man, Maurice Allingtone (Finney), his wife Joyce (Linda Marlow), fourteen-year-old daughter Amy (Natalie Morse), and his ailing elderly father (Michael Horden). Maurice has a couple of problems; he’s an alcoholic and a womanizer. He also has a friend, Jack (Nicky Hanson), a local doctor who’s taking care of his alcoholism, and Jack has a hot wife, Diana (Sarah Berger) who isn’t happy, he knows it and they’ve been screwing behind Jack’s back as of late.
To make matters worse, Maurice had another wife, Amy’s mother, who was run over by a car. Amy was with her at the time and saw it. Maurice doesn’t know how to handle Amy’s grief and because of that keeps her at arm’s length. If all that wasn’t bad enough, he has nightmares about this woman who was killed in the prologue, has even seen her inside the Inn and was even shoved by her while ascending the stairs.
Oh, and Maurice also has a grown son, Nick (Michael Grandage), who’s married to Lucy (Josie Lawrence) and both come to the Inn after Maurice’s father dies after seeing a ghost. Nick doesn’t believe in ghosts, but Lucy does.
He finally encounters Underhill’s ghost and they have an actual face-to-face where Underhill tells Maurice he can help with his sexual quests, this leads Maurice to a local University where he learns everything I previously stated about Underhill and where he’s buried. He and Diana dig up his grave and find an occult figurine that belonged to the man.
During this entire ghost-hunting venture, Maurice arranges a threesome with his wife and Diane who surprising both agree to, but it all goes wrong when the women decide to frolic amongst themselves and leave him in an attempt to teach him a lesson. This has unintended consequences in the end, where Joyce decides to leave Maurice for Diana at the end of the series.
It’s in the final episode where things get a little weird. Before he with Underhill again to give him this figurine and find out exactly what he wants of him, God actually pays him a visit. He stops time and appears as a normal well dressed Brit who wants Maurice to meet with this Underhill, but if things go wrong he gives him a crucifix to use in defense.
In their fateful meeting, Underhill assails Maurice with visions that go from nostalgia to sexual to pedophilic when he goes to find out who’s in the shower, and as he’s attempting to feel up the unknown woman she turns around to show him it’s his daughter. This shocks Maurice back to reality and to the realization, I assume, that Underhill is simply as depraved and evil as he was in life and simply wants to continue this trend.
I wasn’t quite sure why he drove Maurice’s daughter, Amy, into the woods with his powers. I assumed it was in retaliation for being weakened by the cross Maurice wielded. At any rate it’s obvious Amy is going to meet the same supernatural fate as Underhill’s wife, but Maurice gets smart in time to see that figurine he’s carrying, Underhill’s figurine he reclaimed in their previous confrontation, is the source of his power, and tossing it back in the graveyard saves Amy from being disemboweled by the sentient woods.
An exorcism of the house the day after finally rids the place of Underhill. Even though the ending is bittersweet where his second wife is concerned, he does reconnect with his daughter and plans are afoot to sell the Inn and start anew.
To date The Green Man has never gotten any kind of DVD release here in the states. It was released on VHS however. In the UK it was released once before in 2007 through 2 Entertain, but this DVD (no blu-ray exists) re-release came through Simply Media this past October 5th.
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1.33:1 full frame—English Dolby Digital Stereo—English subs only
The mini-series comes in three parts with each running anywhere from 49-51 minutes long. You have the option to play them all or one at a time. There’s occasional print damage seen in one of the opening credits, but generally the transfer is good looking throughout.
There are no extras.
Until we here in the states get a release of this on either DVD or blu-ray, Simply Media’s DVD is the best option you have at the moment, and that’s only if you have a region free player, for their DVD is coded for Region 2 playback only. If you would like to become regions free visit 220-electronics. And, yes, there is such a thing as a region free blu-ray player.