THE GHOST (1963) Reviews and overview

  

‘Horror…. sharp as a razor’s edge!’

The Ghost – Italian title: Lo Spettro – is a 1963 Italian horror feature film directed by Riccardo Freda [as Robert Hampton] (Murder ObsessionThe Iguana with the Tongue of FireThe Horrible Doctor Hichcock; et al) from a screenplay co-written with Oreste Biancoli [asRobert Davidson]. The movie stars Barbara Steele, Peter Baldwin, Elio Jotta and Harriet Medin.

Plot:

Scotland, 1910: The ailing invalid Doctor Hichcock (Elio Jotta) presides over a seance in which his housekeeper, Catherine (Harriet Medin), is the medium. Hichcock’s wife, Margaret (Barbara Steele), is having an affair with Doctor Livingstone (Peter Baldwin). She persuades her lover to murder her husband.

During the distribution of Hichcock’s estate, Catherine and Livingstone receive very little. Learning that the key to the doctor’s safe was buried with him, they secretly open his grave to retrieve it. The safe is empty.

Margaret and Livingstone hear Hichcock’s voice calling to them, and experience poltergeist phenomena. Margaret eventually learns from these encounters that Hichcock’s fortune is buried beneath his coffin. She returns to the grave but only an empty box is found beneath the casket…

Reviews:

“The role of the gothic heroine is so tightly circumscribed that an actress with Steele’s vibrancy will almost inevitably be wasted on it. Far better to cast her as a character with a pronounced bad streak, and give her more to do than faint, scream, and be rescued. What doesn’t get compensated for in the transition between The Horrible Doctor Hichcock and The Ghost is the wonderful open-endedness that arose from the former movie’s refusal to explain itself.” 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting

“Just when things start looking sloppy, a great shot will appear to revive our interest – an extreme color design or careful composition, or an interesting idea like having the lens drip with blood as Steele lacerates her victim (us) with a straight razor.” DVD Savant

“Thanks to Freda’s solid direction, along with a literate storyline, some good set design and music, the slow pace works in the film’s favour making the tense scenes genuinely scary and making this a must-see for all classic horror fans, particularly fans of the early Bava productions.” Mondo Esoterica

“Look out for: a bloody razor attack; a spine chilling exhumation; Harriet Medin’s gut-wrenching possession and, best of all, a wonderful scene involving a wheelchair with a mind of its own which must have inspired Peter Medak’s superior spooker, The Changeling.” The Spinning Image

” …this gothic ditty is cleverly plotted and has some solid direction from Freda (who helmed 1956’s I Vampiri). Not surprisingly, horror goddess Steele is terrific as the wide-eyed Margaret – and she alone makes the feisty, no-holds-barred finale a memorable turn of events.” The Terror Trap

“Contrasting primary colors used in the lighting complement the mood of the film — it is, overall, a dark film, but blood reds and deep blues confound the darkness. The whole film plays like a nightmare. The sights and sounds of the filmed world are exaggerated in a way that would make the viewer believe that they have a fever.” Where the Long Tail Ends

Cast and characters:

  • Barbara Steele … Margaret Hichcock
  • Peter Baldwin … Doctor Charles Livingstone
  • Elio Jotta … Doctor John Hichcock (as Leonard G. Elliot)
  • Harriet Medin … Catherine Wood, Housekeeper (as Harriet White)
  • Carol Bennet … Woman
  • Carlo Kechler … Police Superintendent (as Charles Kechler)
  • Umberto Raho … Canon Owens (as Raoul H. Newman)
  • Reginald Price Anderson … Albert Fisher

Image credits: Wrong Side of the Art!Zombos’ Closet

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