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"A Creature From the Grave Bears Witness to Murder"
The film opens with an obviously terrified young woman Lucy Judd (Edina Ronay) running in panic through a nocturnal wood as the opening credits roll. She is finally tracked down and cornered by a figure in black who puts his hands around her throat.The scene then switches to daytime and a horse-drawn carriage containing Sir Richard Fordyke (Turner) and his new bride Elizabeth (Sears), who is being brought from London to meet her new father-in-law (Joseph Tomelty) for the first time. Elizabeth is nervous and anxious, hoping to make a good impression but worried that she will not pass muster. Sir Richard assures her that his father will love her just as he does, but warns her that his father is "a shadow of the man he once was", having been crippled by a stroke and now able only to communicate by sign language. A complicating factor is that the only person who can interpret his signing is the devoted Diane (Lynn), sister to Sir Richard's first wife Anne who died by her own hand four years previously after becoming deranged over her inability to bear a child.On arrival in his home village, Sir Richard is bewildered by his reception from his tenants. Having expected a warm welcome after his absence and marriage, instead he finds himself treated with rudeness and barely disguised suspicion. His coachman Tom (Derek Newark) asks a villager the reason for the sudden hostility towards his previously well-liked master and is told that shocking events have been taking place, culminating in the rape and murder of Lucy who, before she died, screamed out Sir Richard's name. Sir Richard and Elizabeth come to Fordyke Hall and receive an oddly stiff and formal welcome from the staff and Diane. When challenged, steward Seymour (Peter Arne) tells Sir Richard of wild rumours circulating in the village about Lucy's last words. Sir Richard points out that he was provably in London when the attack happened, but Seymour states that logic cannot assuage the primitive suspicions of the villagers, particularly as enquiries have established that there were no strangers in the vicinity at the time.