THE PHANTOM HONEYMOON (1919)
Directed by J. Searle Dawley
Featuring Marguerite Marsh, Vernon Steele, Henry Guy Carleton
What it is: Ghost story
A man who specializes in debunking ghosts decides to visit a castle that is believed to be haunted. There he meets an Indian manservant who tells him the story of the ghosts that haunt the castle.
I can't say how many "old dark house" movies I've seen, and I'm a little surprised to realize how much more common they are than movies like this - good old-fashioned ghost stories. I really liked this one. The story with the ghost debunker is a framing story. The main story is in three parts. The first part recounts the central incident in the story in which a strange duel to the death is fought. The second part gives the backstory to that duel. The third part finishes off the action in such a way that the framing story is incorporated into the tale as well. One of the most interesting things about this movie is that it doesn't quite go in the direction you'd think it would go, largely due to the fact that the movie shifts gears in the final act from being a full-blooded horror movie into the realm of whimsical fantasy, and to the movie's credit, the shift works very well. But then, I sensed a shift when I discovered that not only did the movie feature human ghosts, but the ghost of a car as well. My favorite moment in the film is when the debunker has a "close encounter" with a ghost. Hopefully, I haven't given away too much; this is one of those movies that is appreciated if you don't know too much about what's going on. This is another title that has been rescued from my "one that got away" list, and I'm very glad it showed up.