Today, Shudder, the premium thriller, horror, and supernatural streaming service backed by AMC Networks, released the BBC's infamous faux-paranormal documentary, GHOSTWATCH for the first time ever in the United States.
Produced as a part of the BBC anthology series Screen One, it was presented as a live television investigation of paranormal activity, not as a scripted TV movie. It was banned after the premiere as a result of disturbed viewers making an estimated 30,000 panicked calls to the BBC switchboard in a single hour. GHOSTWATCH was never re-aired on UK television, it never aired in the United States, and has never been made available on home video in the U.S.
The premiere of GHOSTWATCH on Shudder marks the second time in two months the streaming service has debuted a largely unseen piece of genre history for U.S. viewers; Shudder premiered Ken Russell's controversial 1971 masterpiece THE DEVILS in March, making it widely available for the first time in decades.
Directed by Lesley Manning and written by Stephen Volk, GHOSTWATCH, is a documentary style on-air of a house in Northolt, Greater London that's experiencing bizarre poltergeist activity. The recording of GHOSTWATCH was presented as live television causing a panic for viewers similar to "The War of the Worlds" in the United States.
GHOSTWATCH features actual BBC personalities playing themselves, adding to the confusion for an unsuspecting audience. The film was a clear precursor to THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY and the found-footage genre. The mock-umentary has a cult following, where an annual event, known as National Seance, occurs every year on Halloween night at 9:25 PM (the original broadcast time of GHOSTWATCH), where fans are encouraged to hit play on their own personal copies of GHOSTWATCH and live tweet the special.
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