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Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Ghost (1963) - Horror Ghost

The Ghost (1963) - After watching the Slime People I immediately had to try something else from 1963 to be sure everything wasn't shit that year. Lucky for me the Riccardo Freda ghost mystery The Ghost, "Lo spettro" had just arrived from Netflix. It is a period piece set in 1910 in an old Scottish castle Starring the incomparable Barbara Steele as Margaret Hichcock a long suffering wife to Dr. John Hichcock (Elio Jotta) who for many years has been wasting away with some sort of muscular disease. 
  John is getting a treatment for his problem that is highly risky and ethically questionable. He receives a shot of a couple poisons and then before they kill him an antidote. This is supposed to shock the muscles back into working order and weaken the diseases hold. Administering this  poison is Dr Charles Livingstone (Peter Baldwin) who may not be the best person to take you to the brink of death every day. First because he would be willing to poison someone in an effort to cure them, but also because he is secretly having an affair with Margaret. Boy this is a common theme in film, the wife has an affair after the spouse ends up sick where is the loyalty? (Although I suppose cancer treatments are poisoning someone to cure them, so maybe that isn't a big deal).
 The plot centers around Margret trying to get Charles to use just a bit too much poison and ending her husbands life. After this is done she will inherit all his worldly possessions and she and Charles can be a couple. Also mixed in is the loyal housekeeper Catherine Wood (Harriet Medin) who acts a a medium in John's experiments trying to talk to the dead. John seems obsessed with death feeling his is coming too soon and through seance he wishes to know what is to come.
  There is an incongruity in the early plot. John is bouncing between wanting to recover and wanting suicide. His need to do seances later can only be seen as a show for his wife and Charles but since he is lacking knowledge of their behavior it makes no sense that this show is needed. It could be that his loyal servant Catherine has informed him of the relationship between the two. Certainly throughout the film John suspect something is going on. It means that John and Catherine are putting on an elaborate show, which seems odd because he could just call them on it instead of doing the incredible dance that happens in this film.
  Filmed in color but the print I received was not the highest of quality, still after watching The Slime People in black and white it is a pleasure to see  this film. It exceptional music by Franco Mannino that may be a bit overwrought but still beautiful it is a pleasure also to listen too. Director Freda who also directed the horror classic "I Vampiri (1956)" does a fine job directing as well as helping with the screenplay.
  When the cheating wife finally convinces her lover to do the deed the story really picks up. Soon after his death they see signs of his ghost. His call bell rings, his wheel chair moves on its own, and they hear his voice calling to Margaret through the medium housekeeper Catherine. Also the last will and testament is not what Margaret was expecting. John has changed it in his last days leaving the house and belongings to her but insisting that Catherine gets to stay as a servant until the end of her days. Surprisingly he then give two thirds of his wealth to the church and only a third to his wife.
I do want to point out the image above The director has blood drizzled down the camera lens. I have always found this a cool technique that does not get used very often but when I saw it I was like WOW! and this place in the film was a very effective place to use it.
  I am going to stop with a lot of plot points here because if you can find a good print of this film it is certainly worth a watch. The paranoia of fearing getting caught plays on Margaret, played exceptionally well by Steele. She grows more and more nervous and with that careless until finally snapping. It is a mystery around what is going on in the house after the murder and the twist and turns are well thought out and executed. In the end if you figured out the basic plot you will be hard pressed to see the final twist before that scene starts. This is a really entertaining film and here at Soresport Movies it gets a recommendation
Rating (6.0) 5.0 and up are recommended, some more recommended than others.

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