The Ghost (1963)

The GhostI dug this film out of one of my classic 50 horror movies box set. Those box sets are truly awesome, although the prints are very very bad. I highly recommend to pick them up if you have the chance. The film The Ghost has a slow start when it begins, but gradually lures you into the perfect atmosphere for it to work well. The always beautiful Barbara Steele is great as the conniving wife of Dr. Hitchcock (This movie is the sequel to the Horrible Dr. Hitchcock). She conspires with Dr. Hitchcock’s physician (who she is also having an affair with) to do away with her old, sick and wealthy husband, which leads to the old revenge from beyond the grave storyline, which for some reason I don’t think I will ever tire of. After that the haunting begins!Barbara Steel

Sitting in the parlor one night after the funeral, wondering where all the money could be, Margaret and Charles are surprised by the sound of squeaking wheels from upstairs…in the doctor’s study! They rush out to the stairway in time to see the door to the study open, and in a wonderful low angle shot we see the shadow of the doctors wheelchair creeping towards the stairs. Then in a scene that presages the pantaloons filling sequence from The Changelingby 17 years, the chair comes out, empty, squeaking incessantly, and barrels towards them down the stairs! It’s a wonderfully creepy scene, and done very very well. After a helpful tip from the housekeeper leads them to believe that the key to the doctor’s safe might have been buried with him, the lovers go to the old man’s crypt and defile his grave in the name of filthy shame fullness. It’s another moody, chilling set piece, and by this point I was totally into the flick, and very much anxious to see what would happen next. Once again the maid comes into play as she tells Barb that she found some of the Doctor’s jewelry in amongst Livingstone’s things, Ms. Steele starts to wonder whether Chuck is lying to her. Her nerves, already on edge, snap, and we get an amazing razor blade murder scene that literally has the blood flowing down the lens, in glorious Technicolor.

  While clichéd and (for the most part) predictable, this film remains a must see for fans of atmospheric horror and, in particular, Italian horror films of the 1960’s. Riccardo Freda’s excellent work combining lighting, sound and camera movement creates an eerie and foreboding atmosphere which overcomes the films weaknesses and gives a strong punch to the films shocks. This movie is well worth tracking down, and is certainly deserving of wider recognition than it has thus far received.

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