The Ghost

May 21, 2017 at 6:07 pm (6 Heads, Ghost, The) (, , , )

The Ghost – 1963 – Italy

Scotland, 1910: In a Gothic mansion, a doctor (Dr. John Hichcock) researches a treatment for his own crippling injuries. His questionable cure involves injecting himself with a cocktail of lethal poisons. He is depressed and suicidal, and constantly seeks pity from his assistant (Dr. Charles Livingstone) and his wife (Margaret Hichcock). When Margaret stops him from committing suicide, he says “Let me do it. I’m just a living corpse.” Eventually, Margaret and Charles hook up. Margaret nags her lover to kill her pathetic husband, so Charles gives the old man an extra helping of poison.

Dr. John avidly studied psychic phenomena. After his death, he uses “astral projection” to manifest as a ghost and haunt Margaret and Charles. A phantom wheelchair tumbles down the stairs. The housekeeper is possessed. Blood drips from the ceiling. A music box plays a Viennese waltz all by itself. John also donated his fortune to charity, which causes conflict between Margaret and Charles.

In The Ghost’s complex plot, no one is quite what they seem. Are Margaret and Charles in love, or are they playing each other to get John’s fortune? Is John dead, or is it an elaborate hoax to get revenge on his cheating wife? And where does the secretive housekeeper fit into it all? In The Ghost’s memorable climax, after a series of double crosses, everyone dies (in poetic ways) but Margaret. Instead, she is paralyzed by a dose of curare poison and can never again speak or move a muscle.

The Ghost is a Gothic supernatural melodrama. It is pretty generic, but benefits from clever plotting, particularly the finale. The 1960s saw many other Italian films in this style, many of them also starring Barbara Steele. Steele made a career playing beautiful, conniving, hardhearted women in Italian horror films. In fact, Terror Creatures from the Grave (1965) has a similar plot in which Steele’s character is again haunted by her dead husband after murdering him with her lover. Steele is one of the best at what she does.

Rating: 6/10 Shrunken Heads. I too would like to live a spooky, melancholy, aristocratic life in a sprawling Gothic mansion.

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