Monday, May 13, 2013


The Prescott family, despite still living in the ancestral mansion, has fallen on hard times and is hoping that daughter Joyce's marriage into the millionaire Ebury family will allow them to continue living in the manner to which they are accustomed. The only problem is that the Prescott house seems to be haunted. Unexplained events over the past few weeks include pieces of coal scattered about the drawing room floor, a hat ripped down the middle, pictures on the wall tuned upside down, attic lights going on and off at strange hours, and rugs and curtains catching fire (and see the levitating apples pictured at left). The cook is constantly threatening to leave, and now news about the supernatural shenanigans is spreading in the village, possibly putting Joyce's marriage in jeopardy. One day, three people descend upon the house: Harris, an insurance man looking into possible claims involving a burned rug; Spencer, an investigator from the Institute of Psychical Research; and Ebury, hoping to snuff out the outrageous rumors about a ghost. Spencer decides that a poltergeist is to blame, and that the mischievous spirit has possessed Audrey, the younger sister. Everyone agrees to stay in the house that night while Spencer attempts an exorcism, but soon even stranger things are happening.

I pieced the above summary together, hoping to make sense of what was a cut and disjointed print of the movie; IMDb gives the film's length as 79 minutes, but the print I saw was just under an hour, so clearly there is stuff missing—one obvious omission is a song, "First of Forever" which is listed in the opening credits but didn’t appear in the film I saw. In the first half, the movie reminded me of THE UNINVITED, a serious ghost story told in a light tone, but eventually this becomes more like a slapstick comedy, even though the poltergeist and the possession are presented as real. No explanation is given for who the naughty spirit is or why it has descended on the house, and Joyce, the bride-to-be, is barely in the movie. The last 20 minutes, in which the poltergeist causes much humorous havoc, are fun though things never really get scary. Gordon Harker, who plays Harris, was a famous B-actor in British films in the 30s and 40s. The only other actor to stand out is Joan Young, who does a nice job as the cook.  [YouTube]

No comments: