Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Ghoul (1933)

The day before Halloween, I had the opportunity to sit with a beer and a bowl of popcorn and watch an old horror movie. The one I found was Boris Karloff's The Ghoul. Never heard of it before.

Dying Egyptologist Henry Morlant (Boris) spends much of his fortune on "The Eternal Light", an Egyptian relic that is supposed to give the holder life immortality. He orders his caretaker to wrap it into his hand on his deathbed. Professor Henry dies, but his caretaker apparently has sticky fingers, so Boris has to rise without it to seek his vengeance.

Enter into this is an Egyptian who wants to recover the stolen relic, and Boris' bickering niece and nephew (cousins to each other) who inherit his spooky mansion. Also in the mix is an untrustworthy lawyer (is there any other kind?), a vicar, and the niece's spinster friend.

The movie starts exactly as I hoped. Dark and spooky. Sadly, when the bickering cousins appear, the atmosphere is blown away. The niece's friend became comic relief and the horror elements can no longer be taken seriously. According to wikipedia, the movie was capitalizing on two of Karloff's earlier films, The Mummy and The Old Dark House. Also, I learned that the movie is based on a novel but strayed very far from the source material. IMDB says this is the first British talkie. Man, were they behind the times! Oh, and this was the film debut of Ralph Richardson as the vicar.

I liked The Ghoul, but clearly it wasn't a great film. Predictably, I give it an AMRU of 3.

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