Scotland, 1910. As a storm rages outside, the house of Dr. John Hichcock (Elliot) plays host to a seance, increasing the Doc's obsession with the paranormal and causing further unrest among superstitious locals. Back in the cold light of day, it's the complicated, bustling arena of life before death that occupies the mind of this wheelchair-bound ex-practitioner as Dr. Charles Livingston (Baldwin) administers regular shots of curare; a brand of poison which Hichcock believes will re-awaken his dormant limbs. Throw unfaithful wife Margaret (Steele) into the mix, and we have a classic, cliche-ridden pot boiler where the husband is bumped off, only to return seeking vengeance fromn beyond the grave.
While it's true that Freda's sequel to The Horrible Dr. Hichcock often treads a predictable path, it's an eventful journey as Freda juggles signposted plot twists with genuine surprises; particularly during a delicious closing act where Margaret attempts to turn the tables on her tormentor. Barbara Steele is simply terrific here, conducting a love affair with the camera lens in a manner approaching the late, great Soledad Miranda, and going through the full range of emotions to devastating effect. With solid support from Elliot, Baldwin and the excellent Harriet White Medin (who plays a housekeeper with a devious agenda), Steele consistently hits the high notes, suggesting Black Sunday may not be her finest hour after all.
It's worth pointing out The Ghost is a little-seen and little-read about film, and while it's not representative of Riccardo Freda at his best, there's more than enough to satisfy even the most jaded fan of Gothic cinema. 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.
So, how to obtain a copy of this film? Well, Brentwood Entertainment's Fright Night box set is the best route. F.N. contains a total of 10 films, including Kiss Me Kill Me, Pieces and The Night Evelyn Came Out Of The Grave - all the usual P. D. suspects. The Ghost is often plagued by scratches, splices, washed out colours, and picture quality goes to hell for 5 - 15 seconds when reel changes occur. Still, in lieu of a properly restored version , this is an acceptable, eminently watchable transfer, and alone is worth the asking price of the entire package.