A family is not doing well financially but their son Cyrus (Donald Woods) makes a wish on his brithday for things to get better in which a gust of wind blows in and then his father Buck (Charles Herbert) gets a message that he inherits a mansion from his uncle who has passed away which is reportedly haunted.
He gets a pair of special goggles to spot any unwanted spirits as some are unhappy on their arrival and
their lives at risk upon the discovery that Buck's uncle fortune lies hidden somewhere in the house, receive aid from unexpected quarters as the threat to their lives is revealed.
We spot an interesting opening scene spotting ghostly type music as well as white stuff being rubbed around as this looked like a fun touch to the opening of this flick. There's also a nice family celebrating a child's birthday which ahppens to be young Cyrus who has his eyes glued to a book on ghosts which is impressive for what will happen later on as they have a cake and he makes a wish in which a gust of wind through the window blows out the candles which seemed to look a bit hokey here but back then it works in well for a beginning of a horror tale. Then it is for sure creepy when someone gives his father Buck a telegram on winning an inheritance to his uncle's home having a good mysterious feel to all this while spotting what is happening here.
The film draws in quite well when Cyrus finds a ouija board in which this leaves an impression for any horror fan that this will unleash some unhappy spirits. It does look effective when he asks if there's ghosts and the arrow points to yes or even asking questions people don't want to hear like if they plan to hurt or kill anyone in the house as this makes you cringe imagining if you were in the room when this child asks this question along with others reactions when he does this. Plus we spot a surprising ghostly feel to everything with the arrow and what it does when he asks these questions. It looks dated now but back then it certainly was pretty creepy.
Also there's interesting discussions between Buck and his wife Medea on what had happened that evening before going to bed along with him leaving the room to check up on stuff in which she asks to keep the door open which is a smart move since we all have fears on a dark room if we suspect that where we're in is haunted and the fear of being alone when some nasty spirits want to come after us.
There's even a moment with someone named Benjamin Rush hearing sounds near a wall and discovering that the door will open up as well as seeing neat ghostly effects back in it's time attacking him which packs a punch with the suspense that we spot watching all of this.
Later on we have Medea in a kitchen and spotting a jar of sugar rising in the air and it dumping on the floor as well as other stuff being spilled on the floor which can be frusterating imaginging trying to keep the place clean and a ghostly object being a menace doing this which seemed fairly humoress. What's also neat is that Cyrus explains who the ghost is being a chef who killed his family as this was well written in leaving a chill down your spine for sure as well as warning them to move to a side of a wall before he throws a meatcleaver towards them which was clever for this child top know this ghosts every move. Quite well paced in the writing for all of this without a doubt.
There's even nice camera shots on some ghostly footsteps approaching a bedroom of Clyde's sister Hilda where she is sleeping along with her checking up on a sound of a wind near her open window along with an approach by what looks like an apparition right on front of your face as this is a great imaginative scary moment to anyone who is scared in the dark and what can be lurking behind curtain or any object you may think some ghoul is hiding behind.
Then Clyde has an imaginative tale on whipping a lion by some objects that he found and we spot a spirit of a lion and someone headless performing an act as I found this scene a little too long as the filmmakers should've cut it down a bit. This was the only criticism I found that I didn't like in the film.
There's a good moment with a ceremony hosted by the eccentric Elaine Zacharides in which she forces people not to break the circle under any circumstances which is a tough one to do in case something deadly is prevented by the ghosts as it is impressive when we spot Buck being possessed.
We also spot a moment with Benjamin keeping a secret with Clyde when he finds alot of money in the house which leaves an impression that this person isn't the everyday nice guy we might all think and that he's behind something nasty here. This is when it looks good but we all hope that the hauntings are real and not a hoax in alot of films when someone is a thief and tries to scare people away that they set stuff up in which is a real downer for the horror fans that the hauntings are a set up. I won't spoil this moment for you as there's a shocking surprise for all of you to enjoy.
The ending is alot of fun to watch which involves a nice discussion between Clyde and Elaine in which there were awful rumors about before hand but yet what is shown here looked pretty uplifting.
Bottom line is that this is a nice old fashioned haunted house flick having the neat ghostly sounds which is very imaginitve and makes you excited and entertained to keep watching on what will happen next. The film was very well done for it's time and remains a cult classic which inspired a remake 41 years later. Watching this one defientely wants to make you watch the remake to see how updated and different it is and if it is creepier in today's standards too. For people who enjoy ghost stories this one is for you.
The acting is well performed for it's time in which lead actor Charles Herbert (Buck Zorba) certainly brought off his nice family man attitude and had a good seriousness in his speaking which really shines off in this flick. I found that he had a happy light headed type of personality which seemed fairly brought to life while seeing his talents here. Plus he knew on how to act disturbed whenever the hauntings attacked him in which he shows off some good energy with this too. He focused perfectly with what he does in the film.
Jo Morrow (Medea Zorba) came across perfectly as a family woman in the film having a good and caring behavior as well as acting believeably cautious and frightened in which she shows it off perfectly too. I found that she came off with everything pretty darn good and studied this part nicely. She was a true character actress as you can tell with everything that she did here. She also does well by acting blunt with her fear for the spooky parts and believeably demanding too.
Martin Milner (Benjamin Rush) certainly came across superbly with his deceiving wit and charm coming across as your all round everyday nice guy. Plus he had the clean cut young man looks which was a plus to his role. He spoke clearly and knew on how to seem mysterious in his performance here. He was a great key role to the story and worked really hard by playing this role.
Rosemary DeCamp (Hilda Zorba) definetely grabbed your attention here with her likeable and bubbly personality as well as someone who knew how to enjoy life. She was one of your everyday nice girls in the flick in which I found that she had a natural talent in her performance here. She really was good and quite funny too along with showing good energy whenever she got scared which was another nice pointer for her. She also shows perfect energy when she screams in terror with what she spots showing off some great adrenaline.
Donald Woods (Cyrus Zorba) was probably the most notable one here as someone who is very young and curious on the supernatural world. I found his personality cute and charming with a perfect innocence to his role. He was another natural talent here who knew this role from the back of his hand. He really reminds you as one of those well behaved kids who likes to join in on activities along with having a believeable smart type of personality. Two thumbs up for him.
Margaret Hamilton (Elaine Zacharides) had the most effective supporting role of them all in which I always loved her performance as the Wicked Witch in the movie we all grew up watching known as Wizard of Oz in which she almost portrays a bearable role in this one making her part truly mysterious as well as acting serious and disturbed on what goes on in the house. She shows a good sharpness in her speaking which worked out perfectly too. This woman is a gifted actress and bless her soul.
Alot of nice quivery violing playing which suits the hauntings happening in the film as well as perfect flute playing too. For the beginning of the film sounded impressive with the ghostly music along with cymbals clashing together making it all sound very strong. The composer Von Dexter seemed to take his time with his work in this movie making sure that everything was in place here.
Buck Zorba: [making a birthday wish] I wish we owned our own house, and all our furniture that nobody could take away.
[wind blows through the windows and blows out the candles, somebody knocks at the door]
Buck Zorba: [to Ben] There's a witch in the house. Ring the bell; she'll answer.
[Ben rings the bell, Medea answers]
Buck Zorba: What'd you do that for? You should've let the Witch answer it.
Medea Zorba: You need to stop calling her that or she'll cut your tongue out.
Buck Zorba: That was Emilio.
Cyrus Zorba: Who?
Buck Zorba: Emilio! He killed his wife, his mother-in-law and his sister-in-law with a meat cleaver. Whack! Whack! Whack! You'd better stand over there
[points to wall]
Buck Zorba: .
Cyrus Zorba: Why?
Buck Zorba: He doesn't mess up the kitchen often, but when he does, WOW!
[meat cleaver hits the wall]
Buck Zorba: . Now Emilio is through.
Hilda Zorba: Now *I'm* through
[takes off apron and storms out of the kitchen]
Medea Zorba: [Ben has just brought Medea home] That was a wonderful evening Ben, thanks. How about some coffee before you go?
Ben Rush: No, thanks. Not tonight, I sure wish you and your family were staying somewhere else; this place gives me the creeps.
Medea Zorba: Oh don't start with that again.
Ben Rush: Well I worry about you, Medea. Just for me will you try to be a little careful?
Medea Zorba: For you, I'll pull the covers over my head tonight.
Ben Rush: [smiling] See you tomorrow?
Medea Zorba: I hope so. Good night, Ben.
Ben Rush: Goodnight
[leaves the house]
Buck Zorba: [as Ben walks in the door] Ben, I found it!
[grabs the railing and shakes it to reveal the hidden area in the stairs]
Ben Rush: Good boy! Have you told anyone else about this?
Buck Zorba: Course not! Let's tell them now.
[Runs towards the dining room; Ben grabs his arm stopping him]
Buck Zorba: Ow! You're hurting!
Ben Rush: Sorry, Buck. We can't tell them yet.
Buck Zorba: But we're moving out tomorrow!
Buck Zorba: Elaine?
Elaine Zacharides: Yes Buck?
Buck Zorba: You really are a witch, aren't you?
Elaine Zacharides: Ask me no questions, and I'll tell you no lies.