My second ghost story this month after Journey to the Shore, which also featured corporeal-looking ghosts with appearances signaled by lighting changes. Widowed Mrs. Muir (Gene Tierney at her cutest, also of ghost film Heaven Can Wait) gets a good deal on a haunted house. She soon runs into financial trouble, but rather than get rid of the housekeeper (Edna Best, the Doris Day of the original Man Who Knew Too Much), she teams up with house-ghost Captain Gregg (Rex Harrison, the My Fair Lady/Unfaithfully Yours lead shouter at his shoutiest) to ghostwrite his uncensored memoirs.

The living Mrs. Muir and dead Mr. Gregg learn to tolerate each other and gradually develop deeper feelings, but Gregg disappears after she starts dating a children’s author she meets at her publisher’s, creepy George Sanders (Ingrid’s husband in Voyage to Italy). When that doesn’t work out because he turns out to be married, she stays home staring at the sea for decades until death, when she’s reunited with her beloved captain (he could’ve come back sooner and kept her company, but it’s still a nice ending).

One of Joe Mank’s earliest movies, two years before A Letter to Three Wives. The story was expanded into a late-1960’s TV series with Laura Dern’s mom from Blue Velvet as the lead, and an Irishman from Caprice as the ghost.

Halfway-decent haunted-house movie inexplicably appearing on a few lists of best horrors. I get annoyed with Medak, feel like he’s over-emphatic, harping on things, but at least he did this to a lesser extent here than in his headache-inducing The Ruling Class.

Well-off composer George C. Scott (year after Hardcore) loses his wife and kid in an accident, moves elsewhere to teach music and rents a huge haunted house from the historical society. Ghosts lead him to a boarded-up bedroom upstairs, and a combination of visions, a really well-staged seance, and good ol’ historical research in the city library lead him and his realtor companion Trish Van Devere (Scott’s wife and costar in Stanley Donen’s Movie Movie) to uncover the ghost’s identity. It seems the house’s owner in the early 1900’s killed his own sickly, crippled son and replaced him with a sturdier orphan, whom he raised as his real son and inheritor. That kid has grown up to be elderly Senator Melvyn Douglas (The Old Dark House star, quite active in his 70’s appearing in The Tenant and Being There and Twilight’s Last Gleaming), who doesn’t want any of this history brought up right now.

“Who you callin’ a changeling,” asks Melvyn:

Apparently it’s a based-on-true-events ghost story, but this is before filmmakers splashed these things across their posters and opening titles. Besides the cool seance (the medium writing, her assistant narrating, like a more efficient ouija board) there’s much generic ghost business with clanking noises, whispers on audiotape, a creepy music box and a discarded rubber ball repeatedly appearing. My main complaint is that the ghost succeeds in getting Scott to help him out, then repays him by burning down the house with all Scott’s possessions inside.

George and Trish at the microfiche:

Probably not interesting to anyone but me: John Colicos plays an asshole cop in this, and in the following year he was murdered by Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange in The Postman Always Rings Twice. Crap Italian filmmaker Lamberto Bava later made a movie called Per Sempre which was conceived as a sequel to Postman and released on video as The Changeling 2.

Apparently-wealthy London music critic Ray Milland (with The X-Ray Eyes) and his sister Pamela (Ruth Hussey, photographer in The Philadelphia Story) spontaneously buy a haunted house on the cliffs of Ireland from Commander Donald Crisp (a DW Griffith silent actor). The commander’s granddaughter Stella (Gail Russell, who’d drink herself to death at age 36) has a ghostly obsession with the house, keeps wanting to visit and then almost committing suicide on the cliffs. Ray’s got a thing for the girl, who is way too young for him (he even mentions this once) so they keep allowing her to come over, and Pamela tries to figure out the ghostly presence in the house, but the commander is unhelpful with family history.

Stella and Ray – lot of nice candlelight in this movie:

Turns out he had reason to be unhelpful, since Stella’s real mom isn’t his dead daughter but a model named Carmel hired by Stella’s philandering dad. Ghost-mom is trying to murder the girl, while ghost-bio-mom Carmel wants her protected. The ghosts are mostly conveyed by Pamela looking intense and commenting on some odor or sound in the room, but we get some light visuals at the end when Ray sees them with his x-ray eyes.

The whole mystery gang:

A seance is faked with the help of old doctor Scott (Alan Napier, also appearing with Ray in Ministry of Fear), who I suspect isn’t the best doctor, in order to convince Stella to stay away from the house (or something). This doesn’t work, and Stella keeps running towards the cliff (maybe they should build a guard rail). The Commander takes drastic action, has the girl committed to a nuthouse run by ghost-mom’s nut friend Holloway (famed writer Cornelia Skinner, with Ray again in Girl in the Red Velvet Swing). Escapes and rescues ensue, Ray ends up with Stella, and Pamela with the doctor (I didn’t see that coming).

L-R: Stella, her dead mom, her dead mom’s obsessive girlfriend:

“From the Most Popular Mystery Romance since Rebecca” – the book must have been racier than the movie since there was hardly any romance to be found here. IMDB says it reused sets from I Married a Witch, and F.S. Nehme says the censorship boards and decency leagues of the time decried the implied romantic affair between evil-ghost-mom and her evil madhouse friend.

A middling haunted-house movie, with none of Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s post-Cure style of evil lurking in the offscreen space. Some inspired moments, and some cinematic plot points (living shadows, a slide melting under a projector bulb, an actor melting in much the same way). Apparently the movie is most famous for having spawned a “survival horror” Nintendo game which inspired the Resident Evil series. Also the last time Juzo Itami (Japanese New Wave actor, more recently in Grass Labyrinth) appeared as an actor, having already turned to directing with Tampopo and a few others. I assumed that he played Old Man Exposition, the local crank who helps out at the end, but no that was Tsutomu Yamazaki, an actor in Tampopo, so I don’t know where Itami showed up.

not Juzo Itami:

A TV production talks their way into the long-abandoned mansion of a dead artist to document the murals he’d painted on his walls. Widower Kazuo (Shingo Yamashiro of some Kinji Fukasaku movies) is the show’s producer. He brings along his daughter Emi (pop singer Nokko – in her mid-20’s, but I bought her performance as a middle-schooler) and show director Akiko (Nobuko Miyamoto, also of Tampopo) – our family-unit heroes, which leaves the other two (driver/cameraman/comic relief Taguchi and melodramatic on-air personality Asuka) to be murdered by ghosts.

L-R: Asuka, Taguchi, surrogate mom, actual dad, “child”:

And murdered they are, with surprisingly good, goopy gore effects. First Asuka turns into a ghost, yelling “give me back my baby” then digging up an actual baby coffin. Then the shadows come to life, so they all have to hide in patches of light. Taguchi doesn’t make it, gets burned clean in half and Asuka finishes him with a wrench shortly before an axe falls on her head.

Akiko vs. furnace:

Old Man Exposition comes to the house and walks into the furnace to rescue Emi, kidnapped by ghosts. But either he fails or she’s kidnapped again, and her dad gives up, leaving Akiko to rescue the girl, proving herself a worthy wife/mother figure. I did like the evil-mother monster who fights her with lightning there at the end.

“The smell of the rooms… terrifies me.”

I should have known not to get too comfortable with Italian horror. After I unexpectedly loved City of the Living Dead, I ran out to get another Lucio Fulci movie. Can’t go wrong with this one, part of a trilogy with CotLD and The Beyond (which I remember enjoying a decade ago), right? Another bunch of nobodies getting inventively slaughtered by mysterious undead beings while all of humanity is threatened by something evil and inexplicable? But it was just a stupid haunted house movie full of detestable actors.

Opens on a mediocre note. A whiny, out-of-sync blond girl is yelling incessantly after her boyfriend Steve, until a knife through the head finally shuts her up. I didn’t hope this would set the pattern for the rest of the movie (people yelling someone else’s name incessantly for an hour then dying uneventfully) but it sure did.

Steve got killed:

I don’t think of five-year-old psychic creepy-eyed Scandinavian children as being named Bob, but this one is. Bob (Giovanni Frezza, who retired at age 12 after appearing in Demons) moves to a small town in Massachusetts (are all Italian horrors set in MA? See also CotLD and Ghosthouse) with his parents, beardy scholar Norman (Paolo Malco of New York Ripper, Escape 2000) and housewife Lucy (Catriona MacColl, lead screamer from the previous movie). Before they even get to the house, an also-creepy girl who may be a ghost tries to warn him not to go inside. But a five-year-old doesn’t have much authority within the family, so they do.

Shrill family:

Norman is picking up the research of a colleague who killed himself while staying in the house. So he’s a writer of some sort… in a house that drives people crazy… with a young psychic son. Very The Shining. But wait, there’s also an apparently evil babysitter straight out of The Omen – odd scene involving May and a decapitated mannequin warns us about her. But it turns out the babysitter (whom I immediately recognized from an early scene in Suspiria) never does anything evil and is eventually slaughtered by the leatherfaced monster in the basement.

Sexy babysitter:

There is some kind of plot intrigue which is never adequately explained. I like that about the Fulci and Argento movies of this era, that they suggest great mysteries and conspiracies of which we only learn small parts. The husband swears he’s never been to this town, but people recognize him. The girl who communicates with young Bob via the Shining roams around with her mom or somebody, staring at things and making vague warnings. And some realtors fret over whether they’ll be able to unload the Freudstein house (what an awesome name) in which the family is staying. I guess that one isn’t much of a conspiracy. Also there are zooms – lots of them. I don’t have a problem with that.

But the plot isn’t what’s important. What’s vital is that Bob seems to do most of the talking, and he is dubbed by an awful woman doing a shrill kid voice. And really, most of the movie is people walking slowly around calling somebody’s name. When anyone is evil, lying, or a ghost they act super obvious about it. And there are crying, whimpering sounds on the soundtrack all the time, even when Bob isn’t on screen. None of this is worth sitting through for a standard haunted-house movie. Admittedly it was still better than Ghosthouse, but if they’d lost Bob it could have been halfway decent instead of just not-altogether-terrible.

Freudstein:

There’s a cellar in the house, which is locked. And the lid to a tomb is in the hallway. “Wait a minute – if there’s a cellar, won’t that tomb just be sitting in the cellar under the hallway,” I thought, and sure enough the dead fellow (Dr. Freudstein: Giovanni de Nava, who played “Joe the Plumber” in Fulci’s The Beyond), looking somewhat like Baghead, is just lumbering around loose in the cellar. Stupid Norman goes on a goose chase to another town looking for Freudstein’s grave (didn’t CotLD also end with people looking for graves?) while the monster, having already stabbed a realtor (Dagmar Lassander, who went on to appear in Devil Fish) and beheaded the babysitter, threatens his family. But he makes it home just in time to prove totally ineffective, and I cheer as Bob gets permanent horrific psychological damage from watching his parents get killed by an undead maniac. Bob himself ends up in another dimension with the ghost girl, so maybe he got killed too, who knows?

Evil Dead connections: there is exposition via audio tape, and once while Lucy is alone, everything in the house starts making noise at once. Also: Bob calls his Curious George doll “Yogi” and someone says the line “I’ve lost all critical perspective!” Bob’s dad wastes some of our time in the library with Carlo De Mejo (surviving hero of City of the Living Dead – he was in Guardian of Hell this same year, which sounds like a better follow-up to CotLD than this turned out to be) and creepy librarian Gianpaolo Saccarola (who played “The gorilla” the next year in an Antonioni film – whether that was a character name or he was wearing a gorilla suit, it could only be a step up from this movie). Old Mary Freudstein (I assume that’s the woman with the little girl), Teresa Passante, had been in a Kirk Douglas flick called Holocaust 2000 which somehow never shows up on Turner Classic Movies.

With his pink gun and Curious Yogi, Bob prepares for battle:

Another Clive Barker story that was either badly adapted or bad to begin with. And another story about writers’ creations coming to life. This is all writers think about.

At first it seemed like it was headed exactly in the direction of “dreams in the witch-house” but it took a far more boring turn. The episode seems like the creation of a repressed network-TV writer… it exists just so dude can yell “shit” and “fuck” and we can show a naked girl on TV.

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Star actor Christopher Lloyd has little to do. Barker vet actor Tony Todd (candyman!) plays the beast. Whole thing is just terrible. Oh, our main guy turns into book pages and blows away at the end… he was a fictional creation, just part of the story all along!!!

Season 2 overall kinda sucked. Maybe my expectations were just high because s1 was half good, but it seemed like this one’s hit-to-miss was much lower.

I am not making this screen shot up:
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A novel plot (and supposedly based on a Lovecraft story, so no wonder). Ezra Godden (of Stuart Gordon’s Dagon) is a poor physics student who rents a room in a very crappy boarding house. After some fun about studying the angles of his walls, a hot nude witch appears with her rat-creature pet to take over his mind and make him do weird things like sleepwalk to the university library and kill his next door neighbor’s baby. After he’s arrested for the baby-killing, the cops find the remains of all the other babies that past residents of the room have killed, and the rat-creature sneaks into prison to bite our hero to death. Oh and the crazy old man downstairs kills himself.

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A lot better than the plot description sounds. Ezra is pretty convincing and the weirdness and atmosphere and pacing are all well held.

MOH trademarks: naked women, eye gouging (the witch’s eyes / ezra’s fingers), and our hero looks like Edward Norton most of the time (and Ben Affleck the other times).

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Katy didn’t watch this one. Katy wouldn’t have liked it.