The Headless Ghost (1959)

THE HEADLESS GHOST (1959)
Article #792 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-16-2003
Posting Date: 10-13-2003
Directed by Peter Graham Scott
Featuring Richard Lyon, Liliane Scottane, David Rose

A group of college kids stay overnight in a castle to see if there are ghosts.

Title check: Yes, one of the ghosts is indeed missing a head.

There’s something amiable and unpretentious about this movie; I didn’t really expect much, but I was willing to go along for the ride. Nonetheless, it was a very slight affair as far as these movies go; for one thing, it takes forever to get started, and once it does, it never really builds up much momentum. The trouble seems to be that the movie is hooked on exposition; we learn far more about the history of the castle than we need (or want) to know, and we also meet characters who we don’t need to know. In particular, the wife of the castle’s owner appears for the first time fifteen minutes before the end of the film, and engages her husband in a long conversation about how she wants him to sell the castle and move to the city so they can live like normal people; she then disappears from the story and neither her nor the conflict is mentioned again. If this isn’t padding, I don’t know what else it is; it’s neither dramatically interesting nor amusing. The best scene in the movie is the ghost banquet, even though it exists primarily to introduce us to a character who also vanishes from the plot after the scene is finished; I really think the script for this one needed some major work. On the plus side, there is one of those scenes in which a woman puts on a sexy dance; I rarely find these dances sexy, but this one actually is. So much for counting my blessings.

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