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Horror - Ghosts

The Terror (1963)

Duration1h 21m
RatingsUK: X, USA: TV-PG, later mostly 12 when  on video
Source of storyAn original screenplay
DirectorRoger Corman, Francis Ford Coppola, Jack Hale, Monte Hellman,. Jack Hill, Dennis Jakob, Jack Nicholson
Writers/ScriptLeo Gordon, Jack Hill, Roger Corman
StarringBoris Karloff, Jack Nicholson, Sandra Knight, Dick Miller, Dorothy Neumann, Jonathan Haze
RatingsIMDb:  5.0 by 6807 people. Rotten Tomatoes: 36% by 11 reviewers (only four reviewers liked it, and they only because of the back story)

Elevator Pitch: Lt Andre Duvalier has become isolated from his cavalry regiment at the turn of the 19th century. While riding along a beach he comes across a beautiful woman, so he asks her for directions. She says nothing but glides away  and he follows, to be engulfed in the sea. He wakes up in the cottage of an old woman, who tells him that if he wants to know more about the girl he must go to the nearby castle. Once in the castle the lieutenant searches for the young woman, frustratingly glimpsing her occasionally. Who is she, and will he catch up with her?

Content: There is no nudity and just a bit of snogging, as Andre gets to grips with the young woman. Alcohol is limited to two glasses of brandy which, once poured, seem to remain on the table for most of the film. The characters stumble about in dark passages. There is a crypt which is sometimes at sea level, sometimes not. The lieutenant rides about on the sea shore quite a bit, and engages in dialogue with the old woman. For some reason Gustaf, who also hangs about in her cottage, has his eyes torn out by a falcon.

A View: I came to this film with no prior knowledge and was therefore stunned that it was actually being shown on TV. Occasional attempts to explain the plot are mostly unsuccessful. At one point Stefan, the count’s servant says “Have you got a crowbar?”, I thought why, do you want to crowbar in some exposition? The scenes are mismatched and often too dark to see well. So probably a watch for nothing if you are a film buff (It is on YouTube). 

Additional Info: Since the set of “The Raven” was available  Roger Corman filmed Boris Karloff on it, over four days. Then he sent Francis For Coppola out to Big Sur to film the beach scenes.

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels


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