The Ghost (1963) : The Look of Boo Steele

Margaret (Barbara Steele) is the unhappy wife of the crippled Dr. John Hitchcock.  He has spent years researching both natural and occult remedies for the affliction thaya confines him to a chair.  He is convinced a regimen of poison followed by antidote will help, but only Dr. Livingston is shady enough to administer it. He's also having an affair with  Margaret, and she's fed up with her invalid hubby. Encouraging her Doctor beau to off her hubby, he only administers the poison. However, when strange occourances rattle the murderous pair, they begin to wonder if Dr. Hitchcock has returned as a vengeful Ghost.

If you enjoy seeing Barbara Steele's eyes in close up looking alternately suspicious and terrified, then, boy, oh boy, do I have a film for you. The Ghost, also known by its Italian name Lo spettro, was directed by Riccardo Freda who was a deciple of the German expressionist style. Freda directed a large chunk of the pivotal Gothic horror I, Vampyre before being removed from the project for failing to complete it in a promised 12 days..he was replaced by his cinematographer, Mario Bava. 

Freda does capture a moodiness in The Ghost, along with a million shots of Steele mugging in fear, but the atmospheric qualities of this Italian Gothic Horror are palpable. There are also a couple of moments in The Ghost that stand out. Whe. Hitchcock returns, as ghost or vision, and it feels strikingly similar to the sudden appearances of the dead priest in Lucio Fulci's The Beyond. These sequences were the highlight of The Ghost and kept me watching wanting more of that kind of creepy. 

However, in the end, despite a finish that finds Steele putting her shoulder into unraveling, it was overall little too staid from what I usually expect from Italian fare.  It reads more like a Hammer film with a more artistic style.  Steele was too fliat for me, and the plot, a take on the Tell Tale Heart, has been done better before and since. I wouldn't reccomend The Ghost except for hard-core fans of the subgenre, Steele completists, and anyone who, like me, has already exhausted most of the best of classic Italian horror cinema

Check it out on YouTube

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