Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Living Ghost, Wise-Cracking Private Eye Meets a Zombie

Today we will delve into a jewel from 1942, "The Living Ghost."  This is a creepy story within the classic medium of 1940's private eye films.  Complete with a wise-cracking private eye, sultry damsels in distress, a dozen suspects, and a spooky deserted asylum, "The Living Ghost" has all the elements of a fine B movie. The sexual tension between our hero (James Dunn) and the very sharp damsel (Joan Woodbury) is most enjoyable..and a bit risque for 1942.
Very wealthy Mr. Craig (Gus Glassmire) is missing.  His best friend Tony Weldon (George Eldredge) and Craig's secretary, Billie (Woodbury, pictured below), want him found.  The two attempt to hire the best P.I. there is, Nick Trayne (Dunn).  Trayne is done with that lifestyle and has opened a business in the seedy part of the city.  His new vocation?  A sympathetic ear.  For two dollars an hour he puts on a swami costume and listens to people's problems...doesn't solve 'em..just listens.  Captured by Billie's statuesque beauty, Nick takes the case.  As he begins by interviewing all the family members, he realizes they are all suspects.  Mr. Craig's beautiful daughter, Tina (Jan Wiley) is mad that he married her evil stepmother. Cedric, the butler, is really strange and looks like he kills kittens. The Phillips' are family friends, and Delia Phillips (Minerva Urecal) has plunged into cults and magic. Tony Weldon is even a suspect, as he has money problems.  But wait!  During Nick's first night in the mansion, Mr. Craig mysteriously returns. 
The only normal being in the large house is Billie, and together they will endure some scary adventures.  Mr. Craig is non-responsive.  Physically he is fine, but appears to be in a Haitian trance. But how?  The zombie is unable to answer any questions and is put to bed.  Billie and Nick get close which is fortunate for Nick as during the night, murders start.  One of the guests is found stabbed to death in the garden as Mr. Craig is standing over the corpse.  Could he have done the crime in his condition?  Then Mr. Craig goes after Nick with a knife, barely saved by Billie.  As Billie and Nick do some swell detective work, they venture to an isolated abandoned, and apparently deserted asylum where nasty experiments are conducted.  If they survive this visit, perhaps Mr. Craig will be saved...and more importantly, Nick may be able to marry Billie.
Who put Mr. Craig into this condition?  How did it happen and why?  Who stands to gain Mr. Craig's fortune in the event of his demise?  Will the budding romance between Billie and Nick interfere with solving this mystery? Available on Netflix, this is a fun film.  The interplay between Billie and Nick (which includes spanking and other politically incorrect acts, referred to today as misogyny) rivals the creepiness as the strength of "The Living Ghost."  A perfect mystery with elements of horror, this film is a perfect way to spend a Friday night. 


  1. I'd suppose that the best compliment for a reviewer's work would be that it enticed the reader to either seek the book or watch the film being described. This review is a huge success.
    I can't believe that this one hasn't been seen by me and my family. We tend to gravitate towards the older movies filmed in black and white and especially those with a horror or paranormal theme.
    We have Netflix and this one is being placed on our "movies to be watched" list there.
    This is an excellent and enticing review.

  2. This one has to be added to my list! Sounds great!