The Spiral Staircase (2000)
The Spiral Staircase started life as a 1933 novel titled Some Must Watch. Written by Ethel Lina White (who’s perhaps most notable for having also penned The Wheel Spins which became Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes), Some Must Watch is set on the Welsh border in the then-present day. In response to a recent spate of murders, the residents of a Victorian mansion are locked in one dark and stormy night — but is the killer among them?
Both of these adaptations keep the basic story of Some Must Watch, though one updates it to turn-of-the-century New England and the other to turn-of-the-millennium… somewhere (it was shot in Canada), and the latter adds a massive preamble and romance subplot. And apparently they both add the titular staircase. I’ve never read the novel so can’t comment on either of these as adaptations, but in comparison to each other one is vastly superior. The ’40s film is an atmospheric Gothic-noir treat, while the ’00s remake is a cheap TV movie that aspires to be little more than trashy romance welded on TV-friendly ’90s slasher movie. Risible.
For my full thoughts on each, please click through:
The good one is on BBC Two tomorrow, Friday 31st August, at 12:50pm. Record it and watch it on a dark and stormy night.