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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Friday, September 29, 2023

Ghost Ship (1952)

This low budget British made movie is an interesting ghost story. Instead of being set in a spooky old house it is on a luxury yacht. We meet a young couple, Guy and Margaret, played by real life man and wife Dermot Walsh and Hazel Court. They have returned to England after Guy’s company transferred him home. They are looking for a place to live and have decided that a boat will meet their needs. They arrive at a shipyard only to find the harbor master trying to steer them away from what appears to be a perfectly fine ship. It seems that the ship, The Cyclops, has a bit of a nasty history. Her previous owner, his wife, and their friend disappeared during a voyage. Since then there has been a series of owners who all sell the ship not long after buying it.

The only constant from owner to owner is a local named Mansel who is hired on by Guy as his engineer after the others quit due to seeing a ghost. He claims to have never seen nor heard anything strange on the ship, but himself seems a bit odd. There are some twists and turns, the reason for the haunting is revealed (though not onscreen as that would have been a bit too gruesome for the fifties) and we understand why Mansel hasn’t seen any ghosts. I’ll not spoil any of it here because I’m going to recommend Ghost Ship. Though I suppose that itself is a bit of a spoiler. Read more to find out why.

The movie clocks in at a reasonably tight seventy-two minutes. It does take a while for the spooky stuff to start as we don’t even get a hint of a ghost for the first half hour. But there is a decently entertaining getting the Cyclops seaworthy montage that was fun. This is helped by the obvious chemistry that married couple Walsh and Court have on screen. There performances carry the movie along nicely. This earlier part of the story also leans more into the comedy than it does any ghost related stuff. I’m also a huge fan of Court who most of us know from her work with Roger Corman. Here she is not only as beautiful as ever but is excellent in her role. All in all, I’d say that this early portion of the movie is pleasant and entertaining.

When the characters finally relent and admit that something spooky is happening, they call in an investigator to see if the ship is haunted. He brings in a medium which leads to an extended flashback to the final voyage that explains the who and why of the haunting. This portion of the movie is tonally much different and gets rather melodramatic before becoming gruesome. They also do a decent job with a final twist that gives Ghost Ship a decent final act.

I wanted to point out and applaud the movie for being as creepy as it manages to be. This story takes place almost entirely during the day so pulling off a haunting in the broad daylight not only bucks the usual setting for a proper haunting. But it does work very well. It was also interesting that the setting of the yacht was used because the director/writer owned it. This is a prime example of using what you have when setting and shooting a movie on a budget. He had the boat and set the story there.

If you are looking for a movie with a ton of jump scares or that is set in a creaky old mansion during a thunderstorm (which always seems to be blowing) then Ghost Ship is not for you. On the other hand, if you have grown a bit weary of the same old familiar tale and are looking for something a bit different then this one is for you. I liked it quite a bit and recommend giving the movie a chance. It is easy to find online to watch.


© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

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