Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Phantom Light, Eerie Doings in Wales

Ghosts! Murder! Sabotage! Insanity! Conspiracy!  Oh yes, a good one today.  Set in an old lighthouse off the coast of Wales, we have 1935's "The Phantom Light." Dark nights, raging seas, claustrophobic settings highlight this horror/mystery tale.  Throw in a ditzy blonde, who may know a lot more than she is letting on, and plenty of nefarious lighthouse staff folk, and we're ready to go.
Sam (Gordon Harker) is a sharp and witty lighthouse master.  As the film begins he arrives in Wales to take over at a mysterious lighthouse. Mysterious may be an understatement.  The previous lighthouse masters have disappeared, presumably murdered.  Oh yes, the lighthouse's torch extinguishes at most inconvenient times, as a phantom light illuminates the night sky leading ships to their rocky doom.  Uh oh...or oh boy, depending on your outlook, also arriving at the same time as Sam is Alice (Binnie Hale).  She's beautiful and apparently nubile and vulnerable.  Who is Alice?  A psychic investigator?  A cop? An actress?  Her ability to be truthful is lacking.  She teams up with a square jawed reporter, Jim (Ian Hunter).
Sam wants to get to work and has no time for Alice and Jim.  This duo wants to investigate hi-jinx at the lighthouse.  Sam arrives for duty and finds a weird staff.  One of his men has been driven totally mad...but by what...or who?  As weird events commence, the safety of everyone in the house is jeopardized.  In a small rowboat, Jim arrives with Alice.  On cue, the insaniac gets loose and carnage begins felling the staff.  Uh oh again...a plethora of events knock out the light and the mystery light illuminates the sky.  Is it ghostly forces playing havoc with the ships, or is it something more sinister. Just who is Alice, and why is she half naked?  Is Jim really a reporter?
The incredibly witty dialog between Alice and Sam highlight this story.  As alluring as Alice is, Sam never trusts her...but should he?   This film, directed by Michael Powell,  is incredibly atmospheric and borders on being part-comedy.  For an effective chiller, with a terrific mystery, see "The Phantom Light."


  1. Superb synopsis, excellent writing Chris!

  2. I agree, a great write up on this classic. Love Pre-Code horror