DVD Review: Ruth Rendell Mysteries 1

Ruth Rendell Mysteries 1
Acorn media

The Ruth Rendell Mysteries(Acorn Media) are…mysterious. Sort of as if Stephen King and Agatha Christie had spawned. And the first two in the set, Master of the Moor and Vanity Dies Hard, are flat depressing. I mean stick your head in the oven AND cut your throat to be sure it takes depressing. Put my sixties paranoia into full bloom. They all seem so nice whereas they are sea-bags full of nuts and twisted psyches all living in sweet little towns. Yikes.

The pleasant looking young man in Master of the Moors (Colin Firth) spends all his time in the bogs and heath when he’s not sleeping with his bride of four years, which he never does we find out when she takes a lover, the new guy in town who runs the pet store. He began romping about the boonies when his mother took off when he was a sprout, she showing the best sense of anyone in the piece, turning he and his old man adlepated. Suddenly the bodies of young women who bear a striking resemblance to Mum start showing up in the heather as well and our boy comes under suspicion. Wonder why?

This one will keep you guessing, and you’ll probably be wrong…sort of.

A pretty good whodunit by most standards that is kicked up several notches by the introduction of the copper, D. I. Manciple, played by one George Costigan. Damn, this guy is good. When he first comes on the scene in part one you think: ‘OK, I have now seen the biggest horses ass ever put on film’ only to have him completely redeem himself thereafter. A remarkable bit of acting. This guy’s my new hero.
Directed by Marc Evans. More on him further on.

Vanity Dies Hard, starring Eleanor David and Mark Frankel, follow two old friends, one rich, the other bankrupt. When the poor one disappears, the rich one suspects foul play and starts snooping, suspecting everyone including her uncle and new (and much younger) husband. And so do you.

This one was directed by Alan Grint, who with the above mentioned Marc Evans, has what can only be described as an obsession with full screen close-ups of actors with no make-up. After about the twenty-third of these (each) you want to lob something heavy at the TV and book a flight to England to commit some murders of your own. No one can stand up under this sort of thing. Stop doing it or some night a stranger may step out of the shadows with a blunt object…hmm, might have a book of my own working here.

The Secret House of Death and The Double are shorter but in no way inferior. House finds Susan Townsend (Amanda Redman) stumbling onto a murder/suicide in the house across the way with unforeseeable consequences and Double (Camilla Power in a duel role)looks at seeing your twin and those reputed ramifications. Both a bit more conventional than the first two, with Secret House of Death having the most action.

Extras consist of a bio of Ruth Rendell and cast filmogrophies.
Lee Crawford
Click here to purchase Ruth Rendell Mysteries from Amazon.