Ghost Son

AUGUST 3, 2007


To paraphrase my favorite robot: "Now no one can say I haven't seen the guy from The Mummy's pubes!"

Despite the dumbest title this side of, well, I Know Who Killed Me, Lamberto Bava's Ghost Son is a nice, deliberately paced, atmospheric ghost movie, refreshingly light on "typical" Italian horror clich├ęs, such as a stubborn refusal to make any goddamn sense, and characters who are all sans skeletons. In fact, other than Bava's name and the presence of Corlina Cataldi-Tassoni, one might mistake it for an American film. Or an African one.

The film shares a lot with Mario Bava's final film Shock, in that it deals with a young child seemingly possessed by the spirit of his dead father. But where Shock had a 10 year old kid, here it's a newborn baby. It sounds sillier than it is. Granted, you got to employ some suspension of disbelief, especially in the final act, where the baby begins talking and getting aroused, but since this IS a Bava film, you should have checked logic at the door anyway. At least the mother isn't saved by a random helicopter crashing through the ceiling.

Pete Postlethwaite is in this film. Much like Phillip Baker Hall, he's one of those elderly actors that appeared out of nowhere and suddenly began appearing in every other film you saw in the mid 1990s. It's good to see him again.

The only things that bugged me, besides the aforementioned sight of John Hannah's pubic region (thanks, movie!), were the occasional jump cuts. Since they were used so infrequently and often in a non-'horror' context, they were quite jarring. At one point, Pete and Laura Harring are talking in the living room, and then suddenly they are in the bedroom, but it doesn't seem like any part of their conversation is missing. Also there's a needless little "10 years later" epilogue that, other than the nonsensical sight of an elephant running inside an abandoned home, serves no actual narrative or thematic function, as it's simply repeating what we already knew.

But the film more than makes up for it when the baby suddenly projectile vomits all over Harring. I was just about ready to doze at that point (not a slight on the film - it IS slow but I like that. I'm just a borderline narcoleptic), but this moment kept me awake for the rest of the film AND the one after it. Puking babies - nature's caffeine.

I have not heard of an actual domestic release for this one (IMDb just lists "2007", and it's already been released elsewhere), but I hope some of you folks give it a shot if it comes your way (or, more likely, when it comes on DVD). Despite the odd occurrences (and again, Hannah's pubes) it's definitely more accessible than Shock or some of Bava's other non giallo/zombie type films (i.e. Macabre). Recommended!

What say you?

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